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Constructing Inequality: City Spaces and the Architecture of Citizenship

Author(s): Susan Bickford


Reviewed work(s):
Source: Political Theory, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jun., 2000), pp. 355-376
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
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CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY
ofCitizenship
CitySpaces and theArchitecture
SUSANBICKFORD
University
ofNorthCarolinaat ChapelHill

ofhuman
Oururbanproblemis howto revivetherealityoftheoutsideas a dimension
experience.
-Richard Sennett'

ofWestern
has itsrootsin thinking
The tradition
about
politicalthought
not
citiesandcitizenship.
would
be considered
urbaninmodAlthough
they
ernterms,
theGreekcity-states
embodiedtheelements
thatcontinue
tocharacterizecitylife-density,
cultural
andpolitical
diversity,
publicity,
vitality,
critical
of
power.Greekpoliticalphilosophy
emerged
through
contemplation
theseconcretecities;it engageda varietyof politicaland ethicalthemes,
inparticular-the
including-forAristotle
ina conproblems
ofcitizenship
textofformalequalityandmaterial
inequality.
Intheintervening
centuries,
politicaltheorists
havecontinued
toexplorea
multitude
ofpoliticalandethicalquestions,
butnotnecessarily
interms
ofthe
hasmoreoftenfocusedon elements
city.Attention
likethestate,thenation,
thesocial contract,
theindividual,
or thecommunity
(thelatterfrequently
witha markedanti-urban
bias). The studyofcitieswithinthedisciplineof
politicalsciencehasbeentoooftenlefttothosewhofocusonthepolicyprocess andtheefficient
delivery
ofservices.2
Thisessayattempts
toreconnect
tothestudyofcitiesbyprobingthelinkbetweenbuiltenvipoliticaltheory
ronment,
publiclife,and democratic
politics.By doingso, we can discern
criticaland troubling
dynamicsshapingcontemporary
democratic
citizenshipinthisinegalitarian
socialcontext.
AUTHOR'SNOTE: ManythankstoDavid Loweryand Gregory
E. McAvoyfor
theirthoughtful
comments
on an earlierversionofthisessay,and to Leah Seppanenforhertimelyresearch
assistance.
POLITICAL THEORY,Vol.28 No. 3, June2000 355-376
? 2000 Sage Publications,
Inc.

355

356

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

Contemporary
theorists
of thepublicspherehavestresseditsrole as a
nonstate
arenaofcommunicative
interaction,
a centralspaceofopinionformation.Butifwe expandourfocuson thepublicsphereto encompassthe
builtenvironment
thathelpsconstitute
that"sphere,"
we cansee thatitis also
significant
as a space of attention
orientation,
a space thatshapescitizens'
senseof whatpeople,perspectives,
andproblemsarepresentin thedemocraticpublic.In thisessay,I arguethatthearchitecture
ofoururbanandsuburbanlivesprovides
a hostileenvironment
forthedevelopment
ofdemocratic
imagination
andparticipation.
FromBentham
toFoucaultandbeyond,
social
theorists
haverecognized
theroleofarchitecture
inconstructing
subjectivity.
Butthebuiltenvironment
also constructs
intersubjectivity,
anditis theform
ofintersubjective
relations
currently
beinggenerated
andentrenched
thatis
theworldis beingconstructed,
especiallypernicious:
quiteliterally,
inways
thatadversely
howwe regardpoliticsandwhowe recognizeas fellow
affect
citizens.
This adverseregard,thisparticular
is
formof intersubjective
relations,
ofcity-building,
whichI detailbelow
propagated
bycontemporary
practices
to analyzetheirimpactandpublicizetheirrangeandreach.Thesepractices
versions
of"home"andof"thepublic";theyworknot
materialize
particular
bothpublicandprisimplytoprivatize
formerly
publicspaces,buttopurify
oruncertainty.
The
vatespace-especiallytopurify
themoffear,discomfort,
is in theendimpossible,
has real
achievement
ofsuchpurity
butitspursuit
notionsof homeand purified
and dangerousconsequences.Hyperrealized
ofpublicspaceenactdeepforms
ofsegregation,
whichthusneedsto
versions
be reanimated
as a criticalpoliticallens forthinking
aboutcontemporary
and
democratic
life.I arguefurther
thatthiscontemporary
questforpurity
enersafetyis notjusta resultofcitizenneurosesorbiases,butis provoked,
andpolicies.Thus,in
gized,andsustained
bypoliticalinstitutional
practices
theinstitutional
theend,I suggestan approachthatfocuseson redesigning
anddecisionstakeplace.3
contextinwhichcitizens'interactions

I. O UTSIDE,IN THE PRESENCE OF STRANGERS


As JaneJacobspointedoutmanyyearsago,"Toanyoneperson,strangers
Morecommonnotjust
arefarmorecommoninbigcitiesthanacquaintances.
in placesofpublicassembly,
butmorecommonat a man'sowndoorstep."4
ofcitiesis thattheyareplaceswhere
characteristic
Thus,theparadigmatic
encounter
one anotherin a varietyof social spaces,
strangers
regularly
to
is central
withstrangers
"atone'sowndoorstep."
Thisencounter
including

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

357

hascalled"theoutsideas a dimension
ofhumanexperiwhatRichardSennett
of "theoutside"and of relationsbetween
ence."5Sennett'sunderstanding
lensthrough
whichtocriusefulconceptual
strangers
providesa particularly
tiquecontemporary
city-building
practices.
Whatis "theoutside"?Ifwe refertotheinsideas a dimension
ofhuman
itevokesthedomainofthepsychological,
ofinnerlifeorauthenexperience,
ticself.Italso evokesa morefamilialsenseofprivacy
andintimacy.
Sennett
hasfamously
ofselfandofintimate
relations
has
arguedthatthisconception
focusofmodernlife;close,warm,revelatory
becomethepredominant
relationswithothersarepresumed
tobe thegenuinely
humaneandmorally
priviofself.The resultis "thefallofpublicman"-a denialofthe
legedactivity
valueofanexpressly
andmodeofinteracting.6
Thisargument
publicidentity
will remindmanypoliticaltheorists
of HannahArendt'sattempt
in The
HumanCondition
to vitalizea senseofpublicidentity
thatreliesnoton the
of a deeppsychological
uncovering
self,buton thecreativedisclosureofa
publicselfthrough
speakingandactingwithnonintimate
others.
Twocentralelements
areinvolvedinArendt'sandSennett's
sharedsense
ofpubliclife.Thefirst
is thepresenceofmultiple
anddiverseperspectives.
ofthepublicrealmrelieson thesimultaneous
The reality
presenceofinnumerable
perspectivesand aspectsin whichthecommonworldpresents
itself.... Beingseen and
fromthefactthateverybody
beingheardby othersderivetheirsignificance
sees and
hearsfroma different
position.Thisis themeaningofpubliclife.7

Sennett
examineshowtheawareness
ofmultiple
perspectives
canbe created,
andreflected
incitydesignandarchitecture.
sustained,
He usestheexample
ofthePiazza del Populoin Rome.
The chargedexperienceofthePiazza del Populocomesfromhowperspective
creates
inthecity,turning
movement
thepersoninitswebofstreets
outsidethesufficiencies
of
hisorherownperception,
forwheretogo next,awarethatno singlepointof
searching
viewgivesa pilgrim
theanswer....Thereis a senseoflimitsestablished
onthepowersof
peopleto controlwhattheysee.

Thissenseoflimitsonindividual
control
is thesecondsharedcharacteristicofArendt's
andSennett's
ideaofpublicspace.Thepublicis a placeofrisk,
uncertainty,
incompleteness.9
Theoutside,as Sennett
pointsout,is a realmof
exposure.Thisis truein thesenseofstimulation
andlearning-as in being
ofopinions,"
"exposedto a diversity
orunexpectedexposedto complexity
ness,to thatwhichis puzzling,different,
or new.But exposurealso has
anothermeaning,one thathas come to be overwhelming-vulnerability,

358

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

exposuretohurtanddanger,
unsafebecausenotinside.Referring
tothissecondsense,Sennett
says,"Thewayourcitieslookreflects
a great,
unreckoned
fearofexposure.""'
Thesetwosensesofexposurecanblurintooneanother;
to be exposedto thestranger,
one whoperceivestheworldfroma different
sociallocation,is tobe exposedto danger.
Thismingling
ofthetwosensesof exposureis manifest
in thematerial
practicesI describebelow.Let me notethatthesepracticesshouldnotbe
viewedwithnostalgiaforsome disappearing
versionof social space. My
is notthatthrough
argument
buildingmodernurbanand suburbanlifewe
have"lost"thepublicrealm,butrather
thatthepossibility
ofachieving
a genuinelypublicrealminhabited
bymultiple
"we"sis blockedthrough
thesepractices.Thesepracticesareinegalitarian
becausetheyproducetheillusionof
forsomeattheexpenseofactualdangeranddiscomfort
safety
forothers;
they
areundemocratic
bothbecauseofthatinequity
andbecausetheyattempt
to
substitute
oneperspective
formany,
andina waythatobscures
itssingularity.

I. INSIDE, POLICING THE BOUNDARIES


Forthepurposesofthisessay,thestorybeginsinthesuburbs.
Suburbsare
nota newphenomenon
blossomed
byanymeans,butsuburban
development
afterWorldWarII. Overtheyears,manycritics
thesuburbs
havecondemned
fortheirsterility
anduniformity,
fortheirisolating
andsegregating
effects
on
sociallife,andforthewaytheydrainresources
fromthecity.Contemporary
in suburbsand "edgecities"continueandexpandthistrend.
developments
is theriseofgatedcommunities,
Perhapsthemostpublicizeddevelopment
thatlimitaccesstoresidents,
residential
developments
theirguests,andservicepeople.Suchenclaveshavelongbeenavailablefortheveryrich,butthe
current
trendis thatit is themiddleclass who is increasingly
significant
ofthenumber
ofAmericans
wholivein gatedcom"forting
up."Estimates
munities
rangefrom4 millionto8 millionandrising."Although
gatedcommunities
evincea desireforprotection
strongly
andsecurity,
theformofthe
theformofthe"gate")varieswidely.Blakelyand
community
(andliterally
Snyder's1994 surveysuggeststhreegeneraltypesof gatedcommunities.
retirement
ones gatedto
"Lifestyle"enclavesare primarily
communities,
ensurelimitedaccesstoamenities
are
likegolfcourses;"elite"communities
forprestige
andsocialdistinction;
gatedprimarily
and"security
zone"comareoneswhere"fearofcrimeandoutsiders
munities
is theforemost
motiva2 It is important
tionfordefensive
fortifications."'
to notethatthelattertype
includesnotsimplyexpensivenewdevelopments
(withmannedgatehouses,

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

359

twenty-four-hour
patrols,and video surveillance).Barricadesare also
toprotect
theproperty
andproperectedin alreadyexistingneighborhoods
andsuburban
ertyvaluesofexclusiveinner-city
"perches."'3
area subsetof a wider,moreinsidious
Middle-classgatedcommunities
is nowthepredominant
modeofnewhousingconstrucphenomenon-what
tion.This is whatEvan McKenziecalls "commoninterest
developments"
these
(CIDs) or "plannedunitdevelopments"
(PUDs). Whatcharacterizes
is threefold:
smallerindividuallots withcommonlyowned
developments
open spaces and otherfacilities;detaileddeed restrictions
(thenotorious
andrestrictions);
anddeveloper-organized
CC&Rs -conditions,covenants,
14Insuchdevelinwhichmembership
homeowner
associations
is mandatory.
thecommonly
ownedareacan includetraditionally
opments,
publicspaces
likestreets,
parks,andparking
lots,as wellas conventionally
privatespaces
likefront
lawns.Residentspayfeestomaintain
thesefacilities
and"forprivateservicesthatrangefrom
tolocalself-government."
The
policeprotection
inthisformofdevelopment
is remarkable.
In 1992,"therewere
rapidgrowth
an estimated32 millionAmeri150,000associationsprivately
governing
cans"; up to 60 percentofall newhousinginmajormetropolitan
areasis in
ofthiskind.'5
developments
Therearetwocentral
from
pointstobe garnered
McKenzie'sastuteanalysis ofthesedevelopments.
ofCID housingis a resultof
First,thedominance
deliberate
institutional
policies.It is notthecase thatconsumers
demanded
theseprivate,
controlled
environments
andthenthemarket
reactedto those
demands.Rather,
inresponsetolandscarcity
CIDs originated
afterthefirst
swellofpostwarsuburban
commonownership
construction;
planswerenot
butsimplya waytoputmorepeopleonlessspace.
utopiansocialexperiments
in financial
Municipalities
difficulties
welcomedtheconstruction
ofprivate
andbothfederalandlocalgovernments
infrastructure,
joinedwithrealestate
associationsin creatingpoliciesand publicrelationcampaignsto createa
market
forthe"product,"
since"CIDs departed
significantly
fromwhatmost
middle-class
familiesexpectedfromhomeownership."'6
The secondcrucialpointis thatthesedevelopments
are,as McKenzie
argues,undemocratic
internally
and externally
(i.e., in theireffecton the
largercommunity).
Homeowner
associationsareessentially
privategovernmentswieldingthe"quasi-constitution"
of theCC&Rs, whichcan and do
includerestrictions
of all kinds:colorof housesand curtains,
positionof
garagedoors,appearanceoflawnsandexteriors,
whatkindsofcarsandpets
and visitorsare permissible,
wheretrashcans,signs,and laundrycan be.
CC&Rs almostalwaysrequiresa super-majority
Amending
vote,andthese
restrictions
are enforcedthrough
thecourts,whichhavetendedto rulein

360

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

favorofthehomeowner
association.
Property
values-notfairness,
freedom,
privacy,
ordiversity-istherulingconsideration.
In anincreasing
number
of
American
lives,then,whatcountsas civicvirtue
is maintaining
property
values,andwhatcountsas socialresponsibility
is payinghomeowner
associationdues.'7
Havingmetthisversionof social responsibility,
residents
of CIDs are
increasingly
likelyto regardthemselves
as taxedtwice.Theypay through
theirhomeowner
duesfortheprovision
ofprivateservices,andthenagain
throughcityor countytaxesforpublicservicesthattheydo notregard
themselvesas utilizingorforsolvingproblemsthattheydo notrecognize
as theirown. Suburbsalreadyinvolvea "secessionof thesuccessful,"in
RobertReich'sphrase,withtheattendant
withdrawal
oftaxrevenuefrom
attenuate
cities;CIDs further
thecommitment
to thelargermetropolitan
1
community.

Theflipsideofmiddle-class
gatedcommunities
andCIDs are,ofcourse,
ghettoes-peoplednot by "highresourcechoice makers"but by "low
resourcechoicetakers."'9
Like CID housing,ghettoes
are nottheresultof
marketforces"thatrespondto thedesireof theracesto live
"impersonal
among"theirownkind."Rather,surveyworksuggeststhatwhileAfrican
to livein raciallymixedareas,whitescontinueto
Americanswouldprefer
fortheresidential
Americans.20
havea verylowtolerance
presenceofAfrican
inthecityandthecontinuation
ofresidenofblackghettoes
Theconstruction
in thesuburbsresultpartly
fromprivate
racistattitudes
and
tialsegregation
butthesebehaviorshavebeenand continueto be supported
behaviors,
by
of
institutional
practicesand policies.Examplesrangefromthestandards
riskand neighborhood
thatinform
loan assessment
to thelimited
stability
ofthe1968FairHousingAct.2'
enforcement
authority
of
demonstrate
thataboutone-third
MasseyandDenton'smeasurements
African
Americans
liveunderconditions
of"hypersegregation"-conditions
thattheywouldhave
ofextreme
spatialisolationthatmakeitveryunlikely
encounterswithwhitesin thecourseof everydaylife.22In fact,ghetto
of
theconstruction
neighborhoods
may have theirown "gates,"through
accessandregulate
circulation
police-designated
"no-go"zonesthatrestrict
inan attempt
tocombatdrugtraffic
andgangviolence."Forpublic-housing
is
andinhabitants
ofnarcotic-enforcement
tenants
zones,thelossoffreedom
thepriceof 'security.'
construction
of theghettoshapes
'"23 The material
ina verydirectway,forthisresidential
isolationhasprepoliticalpossibility
cludedtheemergence
ofcross-racial
politicalcoalitions.
Whena library,
or schoolwas builtin a blackneighborhood,
firehouse,
policestation,
otherethnicgroupsderivedfew,if any,benefits;
and whenimportant
serviceswere

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

361

or removal,blackscould findfewcoalitionpartners
with
withreduction
threatened
whomto protest
thecuts.24

"Gates"takea variety
offorms,
then:froman impenetrable
walltoa sima housingprojecttored
ple mechanicalarm,frombarbedwiresurrounding
lineson a citymap.Viewedfromdifferent
angles,thesegateshavedifferent
of a
to a resident
social meanings.A gatethatindicatessafetyandsecurity
middle-classdevelopment
can communicate
"danger-keepout" to resiitborders.(A gatemayhavemorethanone
dentsofthepoorneighborhood
meaningevenforthesameperson;a tallwirefencemayfeelbothprotective
and manifestsocial
and entrapping.)
Most significantly,
gatesconstruct
I use segregation
forit
relations-inthiscase, segregation.25
intentionally,
seemstometocapturetherelational
qualityofgatesina waythatexclusion
notjusttokeepsomepeopleout,butto
doesnot;thesekindsofgatesfunction
keeppeopleon eachsideseparatefromone another-or,toputitparadoxiofseparation.
relations
cally,to activelyconstruct
is perhapsmostclearlyrevealedwhen
The activequalityofsegregation
In oldercities,condominiums
are a
practicedin themodeof colonization.
the"conversion
of economically
commonformof gentrification,
marginal
class areastomiddleclassresidential
Thosewhobuyin
use."26
andworking
areasatleasthavean affection
forandcommitment
tothecity,but
gentrified
ofthecityis oftena strangely
theirexperience
one.Gentrified
areas
purified
are characterized
elite consumption,
and upscale
by "boutiqueretailing,
housing";poorandworking-class
residents
aredisplacedas rentsgo up and
low-income
orconverted.27
housingis destroyed
The gentrification
processesthatpurgeneighborhoods
and exacerbate
to keepthestreetsfeelingsafefor
housingproblemsalso createincentives
middle-class
residents
andclearof"disturbances"
thatmight
detersuburbanfromfrequenting
itesandtourists
thecity'sculturalandcommercial
attractions.Safety,as Garreausays, is "the city-shaping
category."
Both old
downtowns
thathavebeen"revitalized"
andnewedgecitiesdisplaythequalitiesof increasingly
policedversionsof publicspace. Shoppingmallsare
patrolled
byprivate
security
forces,andsomealso havepolicesubstations
in
them.28
The spaceinmallsandrenovated
downtown
shoppingcomplexesis
policedinpartbyasserting
anunambiguous
andsingular
function:
consumption.Thepolicingoffunction
is a wayofdetermining
whatkindofpublicis
Andthosewhofitsecurity
present.
guards'stereotypes
ofnonconsumers
or
troublemakers
(like blackand Latinoteenagersand elderlywomenof all
races)aremadeto feeldistinctly
unwelcome.29
In themallsandonthestreets,
thepresenceofpolicingforcesis enhanced
means:simplevideo camerasurveillance,
through
technological
sophisti-

362

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

fleetswithfancysensor
systems,even helicopter
cated communications
ofurbanspaceis designedtobe amenaThebuiltenvironment
equipment.3"
Flustyidenitspurposeofsegregation.
andtosupport
bletothissurveillance
spaces,"likespace hiddenbydesign,space
of "interdictory
tifiesa variety
space ostentavisiblebutimpossibleto getto andfromcertaindirections,
space,designed
withwallsandgates.Thereis also "prickly"
tiouslybristling
bythehomeless.Itscomponents
tooccupy,particularly
tobe uncomfortable
fromsunorshade,anabsenceof
lackofprotection
systems,
includesprinkler
dumparoundrestaurant
"bag-ladyproof"enclosures
publictoiletsorwater,
benches"on whichitis impossibletolie down.3'
sters,and"bum-proof

III. THE PRIVATEAND THE PUBLIC


detailedin the previoussectionexhibitdistinctly
The constructions
andpresecurity,
sameness,
control,
exclusion,
impulsestoward
antipolitical
tosay
oftenundertheguiseofpublicspace.One is tempted
dictability-yet
shareis thattheyarematerialandarchitectural
thatwhatthesephenomena
in the
andinequality
thatobscurethepresenceofdifferences
constructions
versionofpublicspace.Buttoputit
polityandcreatea tamedandprettified
take,andcreate,as
thatthesepractices
theperspective
thatwayis toinhabit
itas tame?Fromwhomis thepresenceofdifWhoexperiences
normative.
ferenceobscured?It is crucialto notethatthereis a distinct"public"in
and
embodyitsascribedperspective
mindhereandthattheseconstructions
indeedaredesignedtoobscurethatthepublichasbeenreducedtoa singular
32

perspective.

of the multiple
Let us analyzethesepracticesfromthe perspectives
Building
anddiversesocialorder.33
publicsthatcoexistin ourinegalitarian
oftheprivitorootoutfromthelivedexperience
thesespacesis an attempt
The practices
uncontrollability.
and its attendant
leged bothmultiplicity
and theyalso operateto animateand
affectother"publics"differently,
betweenpublics,toshapecitizens'experiences
relations
entrench
particular
to establishand
function
theseenvironments
Specifically,
of one another.
whitemiddle-class
publiccomes
Iftheconsuming
ofthreat.
securerelations
tofeelatriskinthepresenceofthosewhodo notlookoractlikethem,then
discomfort,
danger,
publicspaceofriskforthemmeansincreasing
purifying
Renovatedcenter
exclusionforthosetypedas alienorunknown.
oroutright
whitesuburcityshoppingcomplexesdesignedto feelsafetomiddle-class
who
riskbeing
Americans
are oftenperilousforothers-African
banites34

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

363

accusedof shoplifting
or otherwise
hassledby security
guards,homeless
peoplewhosuffer
thesamesuspicionsandaredrivenoffbenchesandoutof
publictoilets.Thepresenceofthepolice,ineitherpublicorprivate
manifestations,signalssafetyforsomeanddangerforothers.35
To theextent
thattheyaresuccessful,
thesepurging
techniques
operateto
in a fairlythorough
screenand partition
way some citizensfromothers.
Often,
then,theprimary
of"others"
is through
experience
mediastereotypes.
Themeaningandexperience
of"beinginpublic"changesquitesignificantly
in sucha context.We are no longermovingwithand negotiating
around
diversestrangers
ina sharedmaterial
world,butrather
withina certainkind
ofboundedspace thatdetermines
whoandwhatwe perceive.Andwhowe
"happen"tosee regularly
as we movethrough
theworldhasan influence
on
whowe thinkofas citizensandwhowe think
toengagewithas citizens-in
otherwords,whoseperspectives
mustbe takenintoaccountwhenmaking
politicaldecisions.Thus,we endanger
thepossibility
ofdemocratic
politics
whenwe settlein theseenclosures,
whenwe becomeso accusparticularly
tomedtothewallsthatwe forget
forthenwe begintoimagine
theyarethere,
that"theworld"consistsonlyofthoseinsideourgates.
This"forgetting"
is ofcourseonlypossiblefortheprivileged;
itis notas
thoughminority
groupscaneverblockoutthedominant
culture.36
Andthose
without
socioeconomic
resources
havemuchlesspowertobuilduptheworld
ina waythatsecuresfeelings
ofsafety
andmuchlessprotection
fromthreatening otherThe freedomand securityof some people is increasingly
encroached
tosecureitforthemselves.
uponas othersattempt
Buttheshared
dangeris this:whatweallrisklosinginbuilding
inthis
uptheworldly
artifice
ofa democratic
wayis thepossibility
publicrealm,onethatdependson the
presenceofa multiplicity
ofperceiving
andperceived
others.Whencitizens
(on eitherside of thegates)aredailyandthoroughly
separatedfromthose
whoare"different"
from
them(interms
ofraceorclass,homelessness
orjoblessness),itrequiresan inhuman
amountofimagination
tohavea genuinely
democratic
public.37
The issue of policedand segregated
publicspace mayseem separable
fromtheissueofcontrolled
residential
space.Whilethecharacter
ofpublic
space is clearlya matter
forpublicconcern,is thecharacter
of residential
choices-howevermuchwe maydisapprove
ofanother's
choice-a private
matter?
Infringing
on therighttochoosewhereandamongwhomone lives
wouldseem,intheAmerican
cultural
context
anyway,
anunbearable
impositionon privacyandfreedom.
To examinetheissueofresidential
choiceas a
private
matter
is toconsidertwodimensions
of"privacy-related
liberty"-as
a rightto limitaccess andexcludeothersandas a righttodecisionalauton-

364

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

in lightof theirpublic
Butsuchprivacyclaimsmustbe scrutinized
omy.38
poweris exercisedinthevery
haveargued,
As feminists
meaningandeffects.
in thedifferent
and it is also reflected
of publicand private,
demarcation
groupshave.Theputatively
realmsthatdifferent
sensesofpublicandprivate
to womenthanto men,
less privacy
privaterealmofthehomeoftenaffords
bythemiddle
purchased
privacyis "a virtualcommodity
andincreasingly,
disadvanone notavailableto theeconomically
class and thewell-to-do,"
Andthesenseofthe
andthehomeless.39
taged,thosein publicinstitutions,
notbeentrueforAfricanAmeridomesticrealmas privatehas historically
ofslaverybutbecauseoftheprevacans,notonlyas a resultofthepractices
where"thehome"wasthe
as domestics,
lenceofblackwomen'semployment
publicplaceofemployment.40
is simplya screenforoppresThisis nottosaythatthenotionofprivacy
and
constructed
butrather
thatitis a "politically
sionandshouldbe rejected,
roles.4'If we recognizethe
andmultifaceted
contested
good"withvarying
and
rolesthatprivacyplaysin social life,andtheunderlying
multifaceted
andpublic,thenwe canbegintoarticulate
linkagesbetweenprivate
potential
on the"private
home"anditspoliticalramifications.
a different
perspective
ofcomfort
andshared
andsafety,
Homeis idealizedas a placeofnurturance
This
frompublicnessorfromtheclashofthepolitical.42
a retreat
interests,
and inequalitywithinthat
ideologyof homecan workto maskconflicts
tomany.Butfurther,
space,as wellas thefactthatsucha homeis unavailable
analysisofthe"dreamofhome"makesclear,theidealas Honig'sinsightful
as an ideal.
effects
ized notionofhomehasdangerous
world)leaksintothe
ofhome(as safehavenina heartless
Thephantasmatic
imaginary
a longingfora morehomelike,
(would-be)womblike
politicsofitsbearers,animating
a well-ordered
andwelcoming
ordilemmas,
unriven
conflicts,
bydifference,
universe,
place.43

andsafetycansimplyintensify
thedesireforsecurity
tosatisfy
Attempts
amongthoselivedwith,themorethreatthelonging;themorehomogeneity
telethatmanagetocreepin(through
ofdifference
eningareanyindications
vision,the news,visitors,etc.).44Thus,I suggestthatit is notsimplya
thatfeedsthelongingfortheidealizedhomeand
imaginary
phantasmatic
andpubofresidential
butthepractices
producesitspoliticalconsequences,
these
created
artifice
The
material
pracabove.
by
detailed
lic construction
conseus all inwaysthathaveunhappy
is conditioning
ticesofcity-building
lenshelpsus explainwhya
politics.Whattheoretical
quencesfordemocratic
ofAmeris so longedforthattogainithugenumbers
environment
controlled
toCC&Rs devisedbydevelopers?
control
icansarewillingtogivesovereign

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

365

"variations
ona themepark"45
ora shopping
Whyarecityspacesincreasingly
mall?

IV THEORIZINGCHANGE
inanalyzing
Varioustheoretical
frameworks
be invoked
thispursuit
might
ofpurity
andthewayinwhichsocialrelations
shapeandareshapedbythis
pursuit,buta popularcandidateseemsto be a psychoanalytic
approach.
ofKleinianobjectrelations
Sibley,forexample,uses a combination
theory,
Kristevaon theabject,andanthropological
tothetabooinorder
approaches
tooutlinewhatonemight
calltheexcrement
modelofhumanrelations.46
The
ofself-identity
purity
is pursuedthrough
an attempt
to keepthecleanseparatefromthedirty,
toexpeltheimpure,
theabject."Theboundary
between
inner(pure)selfand outer(defiled)self,whichis initiallymanifestin a
distasteforbodilyresidues.. . assumesa muchwidercultural
significance."
Groupsof people becomes associatedwiththe abject-with dirt,shit,
disease-and cultural
andphysicalboundaries
aredesignedtokeepthepollutingotherseparatedfromtheself.47
aboutwhatis pureand
Ambiguity
andfear,so we aredriven
topushothersintoonecateimpurecreatesanxiety
thisis represented
goryor another.
suburbsoutside
Spatially,
by"purified"
theinnercityandall kindsofgatedandwalledcommunities.48
Youngalso utilizesKristeva's
oftheabject,as a waytoexplainthe
theory
unconscious
aversion
thataffects
betweendifferent
publicinteraction
groups
(examplesincludeblacksandwhites,menandwomen,gaysandstraights).
Bringing
thesehabits,fears,andreactions
toconsciousness-opening
them
upforpublicdiscussion-isa central
element
incultural
change.Youngsuggestsformsof"institutionalized
consciousness-raising"49
(rather
thanmass
psychoanalysis).
This kindof consciousnessraisingand publicdiscussionis crucialfor
socialchange.Butwhilethetheory
oftheabjectcertainly
fitsthephenomena
ofgatedcommunities
andpoliceddowntowns,
I am notsureitgetsus anywherethata moreinformal
senseoftheunconscious
workings
ofracismdoes
notgetus,anditdoesnotgiveusmanywaystoapproachchangebeyondpsyorconsciousness
choanalysis
raising.
Another
strategy
mightbe toengagein
moralexhortation
(as sometimes
Sennett
does)abouttheimportance
ofbeing
opentorisk,loss ofself,andlackofcontrol.
Thereis definitely
a space for
thatkindofmoralsuasioninpublicdiscourseandprivate
conversation,
particularly
amongmoreprivileged
classes.But we needto be carefulabout
fearas deeplyundemocratic.
demonizing
A tempting
argument
hereis to

366

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

claimthatsometimes
fearisjustified-say,forwomenofallracesandclasses
giventheprevalence
anddiversity
ofviolenceagainstwomen,orforyoung
blackmalesgiventheirratesofimprisonment.
I do notmakethisargument,
forthequestionofjustification
is extremely
tricky;
Aristotle
notwithstanding,thereis noonewaytojudgewhenitis appropriate
tofeelfear.50
Noris it
clearwhatactionscertainfearsmight
justify.
Sometimes(as I haveargued
elsewhere)
democratic
politicsrequires
citizenstoactincertain
waysinspite
offearandrisk,anda politicalethicofcouragemight
helptorevitalize
democraticpoliticsin an inegalitarian
society.5'But surelypubliclife cannot
requireof us thatwe neveract on ourfears.How do I knowwhento act
againstorinspiteofmyfears,andhowdo I knowwhenmyfearis discerning
ina waythatshouldguidemyactions?Thesearechallenging
anddisturbing
tomake,andpartoftheuncertainty
judgments
thatenclosedspaceshelpus
avoidis theuncertainty
ofhowtoactwithrespect
toa disturbing
stranger.52
thereis certainly
So although
roomtocallforcourageas a waytodealwith
inurbanandsuburban
segregation
tofocusonlyon individual
life,53
fearand
thenecessity
ofovercoming
itis toengender
guilt,resentment,
andexhaustion.Moresignificantly,
interms
ofindividual
castingthesolution
risktaking
andresponsibility
meansbywhichfear(of othignoresthemorestructural
andsafety)
is produced
andpropagated.
To locate
ers)anddesire(forprivacy
thedeformation
ofdemocratic
citizenship
solelyintheconsciouschoicesor
unconscious
desiresofthewhitemiddleclassis toassumethatthebuiltenvironment
is a kindofautomatic
effect
oftheaversivedesiresofthosesubjects.
Butspaceandsocietyaremoreinteractive
thanthat,moremutually
constitutive.The spatialrelations
builtintomodernlifecannotbe thought
ofas priofdesiredsocialrelations,
fortheyalsoproduceandform
marilya reflection
thoserelations.54
tolookattheconditions
underwhich
Thus,itis important
howitis poschoicesaremadeanddesiresfelt,theconditions
thatinfluence
I mean
sible-even howit"makessense"-to think
andact.By "conditions"
ofraceandgender.As Elkin
morethanthesocialandideologicalstructures
haveargued,
institutions
andstructure
howcitizensexperiandothers
govern
ence each otherand (I wouldadd) howtheyexperiencethebuiltenvironment.55
Beyonda psychoanalytic
approachto contemporary
"boundary"
one.In additiontoconsciousissues,then,I suggesta politicalinstitutional
nessraisingandmoralsuasion,we mightapproachchangebylookingatthe
institutions
thatpermit
andencourageundemocratic
builddecision-making
ingpractices.
howjurisdicThisapproachcanbe gleanedfromrecentworksexploring
in particular
urbancitizenship,
theeffectsof
tionalboundariesstructure
institutions."
The concernhereis the"peculiargovernmental
"fragmented

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

367

oftheUnitedStates:theabilityofcommunities
fertility"
toincorporate,
create local governing
structures,
and operateindependently
of neighboring
municipalities.56
Theproliferation
oflocal institutions
is usuallyseen(since
Tocqueville,anyway)as a gainfordemocracy.
Andwithincities,arguments
fordecentralization
andneighborhood
controlareusuallymadeintermsof
increaseddemocracy.57
But,as Younghasargued,decentralization
is notthe
sameas democratization;
decentralization
stressesautonomy,
theabilityto
actwithout
constraint
orwithout
toothers.58
attending
localgovernCreating
mentis often"a signthat[citizens]wishto blunt,deflect,
andisolatethemselvesfromdemocratic
processes.",59
Thereis also evidencethatdecentralizationincreasesracial inequalityand segregation.60Thus, it can work
againstthegrainof democratic
publiclifeunderstood
as "outside,"in the
presenceof numerousothersand withlimitsto individualcontrol(see
SectionI).
Some studiesarguethatdecentralization
doesinfactworkagainstdemocraticparticipation
andimagination.
In theircomparative
studyofa consolidated(city/county)
anda metropolitan
metropolitan
jurisdiction
areacharacterizedby multiple"empowered
localities,"Lyons,Lowery,and DeHoog
foundthattheempowered
localitiesinduceda relianceon "exit"as thepredominantmode of problemsolving,while the consolidatedinstitutions
promptedactive effortsto change problematicconditions,or at least
regime-supportive
loyalty.
Interestingly,
citizensintheconsolidated
jurisdictionweremorepsychologically
totheircitiesthanthoseintheother
attached
areas.f6'

This "metropolitanist
critique"suggeststhatdemocracy
mightbetterbe
servedby regionaldecisionmaking,an argument
also made by Young.
Young suggeststhatmunicipalities
and neighborhood
assembliescan be
empowered
(havean activevoiceindecisionmaking)without
havingsovereignauthority.
Theirpurposewouldbe "todetermine
localpriorities
andpolicyopinionswhichtheirrepresentatives
shouldvoiceanddefendinregional
assemblies."62
Democratized
regionaldecisionmakingwouldprevent
capital
fromplayingmunicipalities
againstone anotherand also wouldprevent
wealthyareas fromkeepingall theirresourcesforthemselves.
Decisions
aboutinvestment
and development
wouldhave to be mattersforpublic,
rather
thancorporate,
decisionmaking.As Youngsays,
In democratized
regionalplanningmanydisagreements
and conflicts
wouldoftenno
doubtoccuramongdiversesectors,
groups,
andinterests....Butitis unlikely
thatwhena
regionalreadyhas fivehugeshoppingmalls,a democratic
publicwoulddecideto construct
another
rightacrossthehighwayfromone ofthem,withtheprimary
purposeof
drawingbusinessawayfromit.6

368

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

to assumethata regionaldemocratic
It does notseemoverlyoptimistic
housing
waysofmeeting
publiccouldalso comeup withmoreimaginative
covewithrestrictive
developments
cookie-cutter
needsthanconstructing
ofpeoprices.Sucha public,sinceitwouldbeinclusive
nantsandprohibitive
region,woulddevelopa morediversesenseof
ple all overthemetropolitan
whatin fact"housingneeds"are.(NotethatI do notsaya consensus,since
stillconflict.)
wouldundoubtedly
opinionsandinterests
assumethattheissuesthatmatsometimes
theorists
democratic
Although
are
lifeconcerns
issues,incontemporary
termosttopeopleareneighborhood
locatedandmaybe spreadoutacrossa region,includnotso easilyspatially
ingwherewe workandplayas wellas wherewe live.Lyons,Lowery,and
DeHoog's worksuggeststhatcitizensareindeedcapableofan attachment
Rewriting
enclaves.64
to and concernwiththe"outside"beyondlifestyle
of
interms
effects,
couldhavefar-reaching
boundaries
jurisdictional
political
publicspacewiththemandthuswhocountsas
ofas sharing
whopeoplethink
fellowcitizens,as equal voicesin decisionmakingwithequallylegitimate
Thisapproachsuggeststhat,paradoxiofthepolity.
claimsontheresources
a
whichnourish
institutions,
is bestservedbyconsolidated
cally,multiplicity
citizenstoacton
andempower
concernforan outsidesharedwithstrangers
thoseconcerns.
space "is preciselythecontextin
Still,as Weiherputsit,theresidential
In thinking
abouthow
whichpeopleare leastable to toleratediversity."65
popandaction,Weiheraskshowsuburban
boundaries
shapeconsciousness
intermsofraceandclass.One partofthe
ulationscometobe homogeneous
(e.g.,onthepartofrealestateagents)
practices
answeris overtexclusionary
ofhousingandservices(e.g.,publictransportation)
andthelackofprovision
kindsofsetcertain
people.Butwhatoperatesto"recruit"
forlower-income
tlers(touseWeiher'slanguage)-whydo verysimilarkindsofpeoplemove
ofpolitical
Weiherlocatestheanswerintheplacement
intocertainsuburbs?
communicatin
of
information
sources
whichserveas primary
boundaries,
arepreciseand authoritative
Such boundaries
place identities.
ingdistinct
decisionsthanare more
location
for
more
salient
much
are
that
markings
The most significant
political
neighborhoods.
distinguished
informally
and the
boundariesforwould-beresidentsare thoseof themunicipality
coincide-thatis,whena schooldisWhentheseboundaries
schooldistrict.
is more
as inmanysuburbs-there
boundaries,
trict
anda townhaveidentical
Whena schooldistrict
population.66
homogeneous
likelytobe an extremely
includesmorethan
orwhena municipality
municipalities,
overlapsdifferent
islessdisidentity
theareais moreheterogeneous-place
oneschooldistrict,
ofpeopleare"recruited."67
anda variety
tinct,

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

369

Ratherthanpossessinga singular
distinct
identity,
then,urbanandsuburWeiher'sworksuggeststhat
ban spaces shouldbe fuzzyandmultilayered;
can helpto fosterthisheterogeneity
and
cross-cutting
politicalboundaries
in otherwaysas well.JaneJacobs
complexity.
is important
"Overlapping"
haslongarguedformixed-use
thansegrespaceas centraltocitylife,rather
andcommercial
orcreating
gatingresidential
"borspacesfromoneanother
theseparation
dervacuums."As Youngsaysbluntly,
offunctions
makescity
life "moreboring,meaningless,and dangerous."68
(And single-function
makesitpossibletopoliceandsegregate
space,as notedearlier,
publicsmore
thoroughly.)
Overlapping
helpsto form"complex,openborders";itis with
these"overlaysofdifference"
thatthe"powerofsimultaneous
is
perception
aroused."69
Let us reconsider
fromthisperspective
the"commoninterest
developintherealestatemarket
ments"so dominant
now.Theirdevelopers
to
attempt
notparticularly
createa distinct
(though
deep)placeidentity;
theymaynotbe
as politicalboundaries,
buttheyaremuchlessfuzzyand
quiteas authoritative
CIDs and gatedcommunities
permeablethanolderneighborhoods.
purThe analyposelydesign"bordervacuums"toensureseclusionandcontrol.
sis abovewouldsuggestthatsuchdevelopment
shouldbe constrained-for
thesakeofdemocratic
publiclife.
thiswouldmeaninfringing
on somepeople'sabilitytochoose
Certainly
toliveina privately,
controlled
environment.
Butwhensomepeoprecisely
ofa purified
notionofprivacy
has significant
ple's pursuit
impacton others
and on thepublicrealm,it is surelya matter
of concernfora democratic
public.7"What this means is thatthereis only so much privacyand
privacy-related
liberty
thatcitizenscanclaim.Itdoesnotmeanthatprivacy
is nota legitimate
and meaningful
good; I findpersuasiveArendt'sand
Sennett'sviewthatpublicnessis endurable
andenjoyableonlywhenthereis
someversionofa private
toretreat
to.Andthereis ofcoursenosingular
democraticpersonality;
weall havedifferent
tolerances
fordifferent
forms
ofprivacyandpublicity.7'
But,as Honigsays,theneedforspacesofnurturance
andwithdrawal
"doesnotsettlethequestionofhowwe oughttoconceiveof
them."She offers
thepossibility
ofa "resignification"
ofhomethatdoesnot
reston purgingconflictand difference,
whileacknowledging
thatsuch a
does "admitandembracea vulnerability
resignification
thatmaylooklike
homelessness"fromcertainperspectives.
Pursuingthis possibilitythus
"dependson theabilitytoresisttheforcesthatimbueus withan oftenoverdesireto go home."72
whelming
I amsuggesting
thatboththisresistance
andthisdesirearetightly
linked
to theoptionsthatpoliticalinstitutions
allow,encourage,or prevent.
From
thisperspective,
morecanbe donethanaskingindividuals
toresistculturally

370

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

choices;makingchangeon the
supported
encouragedand institutionally
and
inwhichdesiresareformed
levelis a waytoalterthecontext
institutional
pursuedanddecisionsmade.I do notclaimthatthisapproachneatlyresolves
posefora demoandeconomicinequality
thatcultural
thecomplexproblems
of inquiryfor
as a terrain
urgently,
craticpolity.ButI do proposeit,rather
questionsremain
andpragmatic
inwhichmanynormative
politicaltheorists
to be probed.73
mightwell be uneasythata politicalinstitutional
Democratictheorists
desires."Ofcourse,thedesiresthat
of"legislating
approachraisesthespecter
thereis no
orneutral;
notnatural
we alreadyhaveareina sense"legislated,"
Butthisdoes notsettlethe
of theseinfluences.
sovereignselfindependent
questionof themoralweightof theexperienceof selfhood.Whetherone
ofpowerorthatas politicalselveswe
is an effect
believesthatsubjectivity
the point
of our "ends and attachments,"
have an existenceindependent
autonas selves,relatively
themselves
remainsthatmostcitizensexperience
thatmydesiresare
Evenrecognizing
omousbutnotwhollyunconstrained.74
(amongotherthings)maynotmake
configurations
shapedby institutional
speaking(i.e., putting
thosedesiresfeelanyless "mine."Democratically
asidePlatonicvisionsofwipingtheslateclean),whatroleshouldrecognition
aboutsocial
of desireplay in theorizing
of theexperiencedauthenticity
change?
versionof
changeis notto be a nondemocratic
Clearly,if institutional
processesandpublic
ithastobe theresultofdemocratic
socialengineering,
mostofus arealreadysocializedtoacknowledge
Inthisculture,
contestation.
openthatnotall desiresshouldbe actedon.Mightthisprovidea conceptual
butaboutthekindsof
ingforpublictalknotsimplyaboutchoiceandprivacy
What
institutionally?
a democratic
polityshouldsupport
desiresandfeelings
communicative
in
this
live
potential
problemslurkand whatpossibilities
desires?
aboutdemocratic
interaction
oflivalreadyshapethe"outside"andthepossibility
Politicalinstitutions
thisessayhas beenthatliterally
in it. My stancethroughout
ingtogether
theirdailyexperience
ofwaysthrough
ina variety
peopletogether
bringing
inhowtheythink
politically-notintermsofthecontent
makesa difference
thatmust
perspectives
butintermsoftheawarenessofdifferent
ofopinions,
toknow
opinions.I admitthatitis difficult
be takenintoaccountinforming
thismakes.Butat a miniorexactlywhattypeofdifference
howprofound
ofothersas
makespossibletherecognition
mum,this"outsidetogetherness"
foras dangerous
minimum,
presencesinthepolity.Andthisis an important
ofotherpeople'slivesandof
is thewillfulignorance
as hatredorrevulsion
difonthoselives,theabilityto"zoneout"thoseexistences
one'sowneffect
Thiszoningoutis often
fromone's ownorfrommediastereotypes.7"
ferent

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

371

evidentin how we use languageaboutourcities-"no one livesthere"or


"there'snothing
there"or"no onegoesthereatnight"or(as a collegefriend
ofmineonce said,to herimmediate
in Pittsburgh
chagrin),"Oh, everyone
goes toprivateschools."76
I do notclaimthatthealternative
to zoningoutis somedeepconnection
thatautomatically
dissolvesstereotypes
and conquersrevulsion.77
But we
oughtto explorethepossibility
thatjustas theconstruction
ofsocial space
makescertaininteractions
rare,so can it createand fosterbetterinteractions-ones betterfora democratic
polity.The encounter
withstrangers
involvessomething
betweenindifferent
detachment
on one handand intiontheother;Sennett,
matecomfort
forexample,invokesArendt
inarticulating"warmimpersonality"
as a fitting
formofpublicinvolvement.
As Arendt
readerswillrecall,shewas criticalofbasingpublicinvolvement
on feelings
ofsympathy,
love,andcompassion;sheoffered
insteadtheprinciple
ofsoliButwe neednotfollowArendt'sstrict
darity.78
divisionbetweensolidarity
andsympathy,
betweenprinciple
andfeeling,
toexaminehowthebuiltenvicancultivate
oreradicatethatspecificstranger-like
ronment
recognition
that
is centralto thepossibility
ofdemocratic
politicsin a diverseand unequal
polity.

NOTES
1. RichardSennett,
TheConscienceoftheEye: TheDesignandSocial LifeofCities(New
York:Knopf,1990),xiii.
2. Thisclaimis a littlesweepingandis boundtogenerate
Someofthese
counterexamples.
counterexamples-Iris
MarionYoung,StephenL. Elkin-play a roleinmyanalysisbelow.See
also GeorgeM. Shulman,"TheMythofCain:Fratricide,
CityBuilding,andPolitics,"
Political
Theory14,no.2 (1986): 215-38,inwhichmultiple
ofthebiblicalstory
readings
ofCainareused
to sketchpossibilities
forunderstanding
andundertaking
urbancreation.
3. Although
I cannotprovidea full-fledged
forithere,an underlying
argument
goal ofthis
projectis toencouragea radicaldemocratic
focusonpoliticalinstitutions
as onearenaofchange.
I recognizethatthissuggestion
maybe controversial,
bothbecauseinterest
in culturalpolitics
aroseoutofdissatisfaction
withnarrow
politicalinstitutional
analysesandbecausethereis disagreement
abouttheconsequencesofworking
forsocialchangethrough
stateinstitutions.
For
further
discussion,see SusanBickford,
"Reconfiguring
Pluralism:Identity
and Institutions
in
theInegalitarian
Polity,"
American
JournalofPoliticalScience43, no. 1 (1999): 86-108.
4. JaneJacobs,TheDeathandLifeofGreatAmericanCities(New York:Vintage,1961),
30.
5. Sennett,
TheConscienceoftheEye,xiii.
6. RichardSennett,
TheFall ofPublicMan (New York:Knopf,1977),esp. pt.4.
7. HannahArendt,
TheHumanCondition(Chicago:University
ofChicagoPress,1958),
57. Itis perhapsnotsurprising,
then,thatoneoftheforemost
theorists
ofdemocracy
anddifference,IrisYoung,poses "a normative
idealofcitylife"as a modelof a heterogeneous
public.

372

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

within
spacesandinstitutions
theyallexperience
Ideally,"inthecitypersonsandgroupsinteract
thoseinteractions
dissolvingintounityor commonthemselves
as belongingto,butwithout
anddifthevariety
ofactivities,
thelureoftheunexpected
ness."The"unassimilated
otherness,"
urbanideal.Young,Justice
and thePoliticsofDifferferent
areall facetsofYoung'snormative
Press,1990),236-40.
ence(Princeton,
NJ:Princeton
University
TheConscienceoftheEye,158.
8. Sennett,
9. Arendt,
TheHumanCondition,
chap.5; Sennett,
TheConscienceoftheEye,chap. 1.
10. Sennett,
The ConscienceoftheEye,xi-xiii).Thereis a thirdsenseof exposure,as in
ofwrongdoing,
orofa mismatch
betweeninnerselfand
"exposedas a fraud"-therevelation
outerpresentation.
Theideathatthepublicselfis orshouldbe a representation
oftheinnerselfis
preciselywhatSennett
andArendt
arequestioning.
"DividedWeFall:GatedandWalledCommu1. EdwardJ.BlakelyandMaryGailSnyder,
NJ:Princeton
nitiesin theUnitedStates,"in Architecture
of Fear,ed. Nan Ellin (Princeton,
andtheRise
Architectural
Press,1997);EvanMcKenzie,Privatopia:HomeownerAssociations
Press,1994); Timothy
ofResidentialPrivateGovernment
(New Haven,CT: Yale University
5, 1995.
in PrivateCommunities,"
NewYorkTimes,September
Egan,"ManySeek Security
"DividedWeFall,"89-90.
12. BlakelyandSnyder,
on
ofUrbanSpace,"inVariations
13.MikeDavis,"Fortress
Los Angeles:TheMilitarization
a ThemePark,ed. MichaelSorkin(New York:Hill andWang,1992),172-73;PeterMarcuse,
inEllin,Architecture
ofFear.
"WallsofFearandWallsofSupport,"
14. McKenzie,Privatopia.As McKenzienotes,thesehousingdevelopments
arealso often
to appealto selecthomogeneous
populations,
forexample,"singles"or
designedspecifically
"retirees"
or "first-time
buyers"(188-92).
is fromtheRaleighNewsand
figure
15. McKenzie,Privatopia,19-21, 11.The 60 percent
Observer,
August12, 1997,3E.
16. McKenzie,Privatopia,chaps.3-5,esp. 80-84.
17. Ibid.,12-18,147,146-49.
18. Ibid.,186-89.
PoliticalFragmensee Gregory
TheFractured
Weiher,
Metropolis:
19.Forthesecategories,
ofNew YorkPress,1991).
tationand Metropolitan
(Albany:StateUniversity
Segregation
and the
20. Douglas S. Masseyand NancyA. Denton,AmericanApartheid:
Segregation
MA: HarvardUniversity
Press,1993),88-96.
MakingoftheUnderclass(Cambridge,
21. MasseyandDenton,American
Apartheid.
andontheirrolein
onthesocialimpactofghettoes
22. Ibid.,chap.3. Thereis a vastliterature
theformation
ofan underclass
(e.g.,theworkofWilliamJuliusWilsonandhiscritics),which
mefromengaginghere.
space prevents
23. Davis,"Fortress
Los Angeles,"166-67.Readersmayalsorecalla case a fewyearsago in
in a Chicagohousing
warrants
to searchwithout
whichpoliceaskedthecourtsforpermission
thevolumeofdrugsandgunsthere.Notsurprisingly,
manyof
withthegoalofreducing
project,
werein favorofthisviolationoftheirconstitutional
theresidents
rights.
155.
24. MasseyandDenton,American
Apartheid,
25. See theexamplesin Marcuse,"WallsofFear."
ofCaliforniaPress,1991),
26. SharonZukin,LandscapesofPower(Berkeley:University
180.
The LowerEast Side as Wild,WildWest,"in
27. Neil Smith,"New City,New Frontier:
Smithpointsout," 'thehomeless'aremore
ona ThemePark.Consequently,
Sorkin,Variations
as 'theevicted,'sincepeopledon'tsimplyfalloutofthehousingmarketdescribed
accurately
but
condoresidents,
inallthisarenotthemiddle-class
theyareusuallypushed."Thebigwinners
therealestatespeculators
(91, 82-86).

/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY
Bickford

373

(NewYork:Doubleday,1991),48,50;
EdgeCity:LifeontheNewFrontier
28. JoelGarreau,
hasachieveda levelofvisibiloccupation
Los Angeles.""Mallcop"as a private
Davis,"Fortress
ofa syndican onlyenvy;itis theoccupationofthemaincharacter
itythatpoliticalscientists
sortwhorarelyhas to deal withanything
catedcomicstrip-Drabble.Drabbleis a bumbling
thana firein a trashcan,whichhe putsoutwithchocolatemilk.
morethreatening
see David Sibley,Geographiesof Exclusion(New York:
29. On policingof function,
Routledge,1995). Caniglianotesthattheelderlyhavea specialdilemma:"A womentalked
abouthow they'recarefulto bringalongtherightnumberof bags on theirtripsdowntown:
butnotso manyas tobe brandedbag ladies."Julie
enoughtolookas ifthey'vebeenshopping,
Paul City
Caniglia,"Please Keep offthe Grass: DowntownMinneapolis,"Minneapolis/St.
Pages,May 20, 1992,10-15,at 15.
inEllin,Architecture
Los Angeles";StevenFlusty,
"BuildingParanoia,"
30. Davis,"Fortress
ofFear.
Los Angeles";Caniglia,"PleaseKeepoff
31. Flusty,"BuildingParanoia";Davis,"Fortress
theGrass."
of raceand genderhavenoted,thisis a familiar
techniqueof systemsof
32. As theorists
andtreatthemas universal
(i.e.,genofcertain
perspectives
toobscurethepartiality
oppression:
CA:
deror race neutral).See, forexample,CarolePateman,TheSexual Contract(Stanford,
Stanford
Press,1988);ElizabethV. Spelman,InessentialWoman(Boston:Beacon,
University
1988).
thePublicSphere,"inHabermasand thePublicSphere,
33. See NancyFraser,"Rethinking
Institute
of TechnologyPress,1992) on the
ed. Craig Calhoun(Cambridge:Massachusetts
thepublicsphereintermsofmultiple
publics.
oftheorizing
importance
34. I am not ignoringthe existenceof a black middleclass, but ratheracceptingthe
statusdoes
and professional
thatevenostensiblemiddle-class
well-documented
phenomenon
Forexample,CornelWest,Race MatAfricanAmericans
fromracistassumptions.
notprotect
ofRace and Rights(Camters(New York:Vintage,1994); PatriciaJ.Williams,TheAlchemy
Press,1991).
bridge,MA: HarvardUniversity
atoncedependable
sourcesof
ofpurging:
occupyanoddspaceinthisdynamic
35. Teenagers
andpossiblevandals,
bothresidents
ofprivate
developments
revenueandpotential
disruptions,
Edge City,50-51; Blakely
neither
norina bar.(Garreau,
onthechildren's
playground
belonging
and Snyder,"DividedWe Fall,"92-93; Sibley,GeographiesofExclusion,34-35). Thatvery
to adults.
oftenmakestheirpresence-especiallyingroups-feelthreatening
unpredictability
ofthatculture;see PatriciaHill
36. Indeed,theyoftenbecomesophisticated
ethnographers
1991),chap.1;bellhooks,BlackLooks:
(NewYork:Routledge,
Thought
Collins,BlackFeminist
(Boston:SouthEnd,1992),chap. 11.
Race and Representation
of
showsthemutualrelations
ofgrowing
upina poorneighborhood
37. bellhooks'smemory
theterriwiththeterrible,
"Blackfolksassociatedwhiteness
threat
thatsegregation
constructs:
especiallythosewhodaredto
theterrorizing.
Whitepeoplewereregarded
as terrorists,
fying,
enterthesegregated
spaceofblackness"(BlackLooks,170).
libandtheconceptof"privacy-related
38. Thearticulation
ofthetwodimensions
ofprivacy
the
inRevisioning
atHome:TheTwofoldProblem,"
erty"areAllen's.AnitaL. Allen,"Privacy
1996).
Di Stefano(Boulder,CO: Westview,
and Christine
Political,ed. NancyJ.Hirschmann
and
see MarthaA. Ackelsberg
aboutpublicandprivate,
arguments
Forothersamplesoffeminist
ofthePublic-PriRethinking
Publicity,
andPower:A Feminist
"Privacy,
MaryLyndonShanley,
Di Stefano
andChristine
inRevisioning
thePolitical,ed. NancyJ.Hirschmann
vateDistinction,"
Democracy,Femi1996); CarolePateman,TheDisorderofWomen:
(Boulder,CO: Westview,
A.
Press,1989); andCatherine
CA: Stanford
University
nism,and PoliticalTheory(Stanford,

374

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

MA: Harvard
University
Press,
MacKinnon,
Towarda Feminist
Theory
oftheState(Cambridge,
1989).
39. Allen,"Privacyat Home,"197-98.
40. Collins,BlackFeminist
notesa senseinwhichbeing"in
Thought,
chap.3. Collinsfurther
and"public"wastherealminwhichonewas
private"
meantbeingwithin
theblackcommunity,
amongwhitepeople.
41. Ackelsberg
andShanley,
andPower,"213; PatriciaBoling,Privacy
"Privacy,
Publicity,
Press,1996); JeanL. Cohen,
and thePoliticsofIntimate
Life(Ithaca,NY: CornellUniversity
in Democracyand Difference,
ed. Seyla
"Democracy,Difference,
and theRightof Privacy,"
Press,1996).
Benhabib(Princeton,
NJ:Princeton
University
kindofpoliticalcommunity,
on themodelof
42. Homecanalso be a modelfora particular
wherea certain
ofinterest
areassumed.Particularly
nationalism,
homogeneity
andcommonality
andpractices
of"coalition"as an
withinfeminism,
criticisms
ofthismodelhaveleadtotheories
alternative
to "home".The classicstatement
is BerniceJohnson
Reagon,"CoalitionPolitics:
inHomeGirls,ed. BarbaraSmith(New York:KitchenTable:Womenof
Turning
theCentury,"
ColorPress,1983);see alsoLisa Albrecht
andRoseM. Brewer,
eds.BridgesofPower:Women's
Alliances(Philadelphia:New Society,1990). Othertheorists
who examinethe
Multicultural
ofliteralandfigurative
notionsofhomeincludeLisa Disch,HannahArendt
and
politicalimport
theLimitsofPhilosophy
Press,1994),esp.chap.6; BiddyMar(Ithaca,NY: CornellUniversity
tinandChandraTalpadeMohanty,
"Feminist
Politics:What'sHomeGottoDo WithIt?"inFemPress,
inistStudies/Critical
Studies,ed. Teresade Lauretis(Indianapolis:IndianaUniversity
ActingPolitically
(Ithaca,NY: CornellUniversity
1986);andMelissaA. Orlie,LivingEthically,
Press,1997).
DemocDilemmas,andthePoliticsofHome,"inBenhabib,
43. BonnieHonig,"Difference,
272.
racyand Difference,
oftheinsatiable
desireforsecurity
is theescalatingfearofcrimeamong
44. One indication
citizensoverall,in a contextin whichtheoverallcrimerateis actuallyholdingsteadyor
decreasing.
45. Sorkin,Variations
on a ThemePark.
46. Sibley,GeographiesofExclusion,chap. 1.
BodiesThatMatter(New York:Routledge,1993),esp.
47. Ibid.,7; compareJudith
Butler,
2-16.
48. Sibley,Geographies
ofExclusion,chap.3.
and thePoliticsofDifference,
49. Young,Justice
152-55,chap.5; also Sibley,Geographies
ofExclusion,185-86.
outthatstateofficials
ofhazardous
wastesitinghavepointed
50.Forexample,someanalysts
onthelikeliStateofficials
focusonprobability,
andcitizensreasonaboutriskverydifferently.
whilelocalcitizenstendtoassess
hoodthatanaccidentwouldhappenata wastestoragefacility,
in
an accidentwouldhaveon themandon theircommunity.
riskbasedon theeffect
Although
itis hardto maintain
theclaim
thesedebatescitizensareaccusedofbeingnarrowly
parochial,
E.
is more"rational"thantheother.See Gregory
thatone of thesemodesofriskassessment
andtheNIMBYSyndrome
(Washington,
McAvoy,Controlling
Technocracy:
CitizenRationality
DC: Georgetown
University
Press,1999).
and Citizenship
TheDissonanceofDemocracy:Listening,
51. Susan Bickford,
Conflict,
(Ithaca,NY: CornellUniversity
Press,1996);see alsoHollowaySparks,"DissidentCitizenship:
PoliticalCourage,andActivist
Democratic
Women,"
Hypatia12,no.4 (1997): 74-110.
Theory,
than
to endurethisuncomfortable
52. Perhapsit is theunwillingness
uncertainty-rather
andspecificfears-thatdrivestheactionsofmanyinthewhitemiddleclass.
full-fledged

Bickford
/CONSTRUCTING INEQUALITY

375

oftherolethatthediscourseof"braveurbanpioneers"
53. Although,
see Smith'sindictment
playsin gentrification.
Smith,"NewCity,NewFrontier."
54. DoreenMassey,Space,Place,andGender(Minneapolis:
ofMinnesota
University
Press,
1994); ElizabethGrosz,Space, Time,and Perversion
(New York:Routledge,1995).
55. StephenL. Elkin,Cityand Regimein theAmericanRepublic(Chicago:University
of
ChicagoPress,1987).
56. Weiher,TheFractured
Metropolis.
57. For example,Elkin,Cityand Regime,chap.9; butsee RichardDagger,"Metropolis,
Memory,
andCitizenship,"
American
JournalofPoliticalScience25, no. 4 (1981): 715-37.
58. Young,Justiceand thePoliticsofDifference,
250-51.
59. Weiher,TheFractured
Metropolis,
183-84.
60. W.E. Lyons,DavidLowery,
andRuthHooglandDeHoog,ThePoliticsofDissatisfaction
2d ed. (Washing(NewYork:M. E. Sharpe,1992),chap.7; DavidRusk,Citieswithout
Suburbs,
ton,DC: WoodrowWilsonCenterPress,1995).
61. Lyons,Lowery,and DeHoog,ThePoliticsofDissatisfaction,
chap.8.
62. Young,Justiceand thePoliticsofDifference,
252.
63. Ibid.,253.
64. Lyons,Lowery,
andDeHoog,ThePoliticsofDissatisfaction,
170-82.Manycitizenshave
passionatepoliticalconcernsthatarenotlocallyorregionally
constrained
(although
theymay
havespatialaspects),forexample,environmental
orfeminist
issues.
65. Weiher,TheFractured
Metropolis,
36; see also AndrewHacker,TwoNations,rev.ed.
(New York:Ballantine,1995),40-43.
66. Weiher,TheFractured
andheterogeneous
Metropolis,
chap.2, 4). I use homogeneous
ofraceandclass.Weiherprefers
hereinterms
ina varieccentric-peopleina suburbmaydiffer
at large)withrespectto a particular
etyofwaysbutareeccentric
(comparedtothepopulation
characteristic.
67. Weiher,TheFractured
in
Metropolis,
chap.5. Weihernotesthattherearetwopatterns
areaswithoverlapping
boundaries:
sometimes
theareaas a wholeis moreheterogeneous,
sometimestherearestillblackandwhiteregionswithin
thelargerarea(50-60,146-47).So peopleof
different
racesstillmaynotliveonthesamestreet,
butatleastthefinancial
resources
ofthecomareshared,andwith"strangers"
whohavean equal sayindecisionmakingaboutthose
munity
resources.
68. Jacobs,TheDeathand LifeofGreatAmericanCities,chaps.8, 12, 14; Young,Justice
and thePoliticsofDifference,
246.
69. Sennett,
TheConscienceoftheEye,202, 165-68.
70. Bowles and Gintisarguemoreforcefully
thatany "sociallyconsequentialuse of
power"-one which"substantially
affects
thelivesofothers"-shouldbe a matter
fordemocraticdecisionmakingrather
thanprivate
choice.SamuelBowlesandHerbert
Gintis,Democracyand Capitalism(New York:Basic Books,1986),chap.3.
71. I confessI amparticularly
partialtositting
aloneincoffeeshops,an imageSennett
uses
as indicative
ofthedeclineofgenuinely
TheFallofPublicMan,esp.205-18.
publiclife.Sennett,
72. Honig,"Difference,
Dilemmas,"269,271.
73. Nottheleastofwhich(an anonymous
reviewer
pointsout)is howtoadjudicatebetween
theclaimsmadeforthedemocratic
ofbothcentralization
potential
and decentralization.
Are
thereotherinstitutional
orcontextual
conditions
features
thatneedtobe considered
inconjunctionwithdegreeofcentralization?
74. See Judith
Butler,GenderTrouble(New York:Routledge,1990),foran argument
that
is aneffect
ofpower;see JohnRawls,"Justice
subjectivity
as Fairness:PoliticalNotMetaphysi-

376

POLITICAL THEORY /June2000

cal,"Philosophy
and PublicAffairs
14,no. 3 (1985): 223-51,fortheclaimthatpoliticalselves
can be viewedas independent
oftheirendsandattachments.
75. See MichaelPeterSmith,TheCityand Social Theory(New York:St. Martin's,1979),
154-57,forthismarvelous
dualmeaningof"zoneout."
76. Theselocutionsdesignate
certainlivedspacesas "empty."
See GaryMcDonogh,"The
ofEmptiness,"
inTheCulturalMeaningofUrbanSpace,ed. RobertRotenberg
Geography
and
GaryMcDonogh(Westport,
CT: BerginandGarvey,1993),fora perceptive
analysisofthevarietyofmeaningsthat"emptiness"
carries.
77. See also mypreviousargument
thatfriendship
andcarearenotappropriate
modelsfor
TheDissonanceofDemocracy.
politicalrelations.
Bickford,
78. Sennett,
TheConscienceoftheEye,136-37;HannahArendt,
OnRevolution
(NewYork:
Penguin,1963),chap.2.

is assistantprofessorofpoliticalscienceat the University


Susan Bick,ford
of North
Carolinaat ChapelHill.She is theauthorofTheDissonanceofDemocracy:Listening,
demoand Citizenship
Conflict,
(1996) and has publishedarticlesonfeminist
theory,
craitic
andAristotle.
theory,