Respect and City Living: Urban Contest or Cosmopolitanism?

Published: December 2009

The contemporary western city attracts people with different cultures, values, backgrounds, beliefs, languages and traditions. Of course, I am stating the obvious and, in fact, this has been true for most cities, for most of the time. However, understanding how these differences can work together as a cosmopolitan whole, or whether they work in contest to cause suspicion, strife and resentment, is key to the promotion of respectful city living, of promoting urban cultures of respect for the ‘other’. For instance, different groups can have contested understandings of what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour, with those seen as unacceptable being labelled as an anti-social or disrespectful other. In urban spaces young people, particularly when in groups, are often seen as fitting this ‘disrespectful’ category, and are regarded as a source of nuisance and incivility; similarly street sex workers, the homeless, street people, those with mental health problems, or other problematic or challenging categories of ‘them’. In this chapter city living is considered as a contest of behavioural expectations, with different groups being more or less willing to have their expectations challenged.

Authors / Editors

Research Themes

Young People and Youth Justice

Research Methods and Criminological Theory