Cities throughout the world regardless of location have become fast-lane conduits of money being put into buildings and other infrastructure. Levels of such investments may be inadequate and vastly inappropriate in some cities. They overreach available consumption and markets in others, but generally make cities more proficient in coordinating the sheltering, transporting, powering, marketing, producing, networking and information that make them enhancers of value. This proficiency does not lessen the prolonged and even growing misery of large segments of urban populations. It does not mitigate the dangers of carbon footprints and resource depletion driven by the dependence on fossil fuels and the exorbitant sunk and recurring costs incurred by sprawl and segregation. It does not make employment more secure or improve working conditions. Despite all of this, contemporary urban infrastructure continues to convey a promise of a better and more secure life.
Still, this proficiency has been at the expense of disentangling intricate arrangements of residence, economy, place and materials of all kinds in dense environments where many things take place in close proximity of each other, exerting effects and pressures that could not always be anticipated, planned or rectified. As a result of such arrangements, available infrastructure in many cities may be overburdened, illicit activities may proliferate, and the intensive mixtures of different logics for making and trading things may be difficult to manage or hold accountable.
However, these mixtures have enabled people of different walks of life to find multiple venues and devices to feel connected to one another and affirm workable solidarities. These entanglements can implode because too much is expected of them in face of the attrition of public responsibility. Governments can actively undermine them when threatened by the particular identities of the people involved. Entanglements are also weakened by long histories of exploitation and marginalization. When this happens, the seemingly chaotic relations of the street and the markets become incubators of crime and insecurity. Certainly, in many parts of the world, urban residents must nagivate the most minimal tasks with great fear regarding their personal safety.
The proficiencies of the city--its enhancements of infrastructure, communication, consumption and transportation--can also act to choke off a sense of ordinary publicity, a sense of city spaces being available to experiments of all kinds. These experiments were mainly centred on how relationships between people could be used as a basis to make things happen, to improve the livelihoods and opportunities for all involved...