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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009
    Imagination and the city
     
    Clearing my desktop today I replay the excellent Thinking Allowed from last August, in which Doreen Massey, Will Self and Richard Sennett and a very bright audience interact on the topic of Imagination and the city. With these folks involved it's no surprise to see the conversation take some stimulating turns, including this provocative little exchange.
    Doreen Massey: The last surveys I've seen on knife crime don't actually say that it's worse in inner cities. We do have from the 70s onwards this imagination that it's the inner cities which are the worst places, and if you go to small towns in England there is knife crime, there is violence, there is anomie.

    Will Self: Yes. I think that one of the most interesting, as it were, double bluffs in the urban context about safety and the individual is 'stranger danger' and the way in which the grand narrative - which we all believe and buy at some subconscious level - is that if you leave your child alone for ten minutes in the urban context he or she will be abducted by a paedophile ring. The reality is, if you leave your child alone for five or ten minutes in the urban context and he or she steps out from between parked cars she'll be hit by someone in an SUV and killed. That's the reality of the situation, so in order to cover up our obsession with maintaining private car ownership we've invented vicious gangs of paedophiles...