chapter  1
Cities and urbanism
Pages 26

The age of modernity runs parallel with the growth of city expansion throughout the nineteenth century as a result of industrialization and the growing dependence on capitalism and production. Most commonly, the term ‘modernity’ is used to distinguish the ‘modern’ from the ‘ancient’, and from an era prior to the Enlightenment, which is understood as the pursuit of a rational social order and the desire for progress. It is associated with the

increasing secularization of society that replaces the religious state and the assertion of scientific explanation replacing superstitious ‘primitivism’. In the nineteenth century, modernity incorporates mechanical production, industrial - ization and the development of consumerism. Increasing urbanization and consumption results in the consequent development of mass marketing, advertising and fashion and of new systems of communication (telephone) and of transport (underground rail networks) (Harvey 1990: 23). The invention of photography (1839) and its increasing appropriation for the promotion of state operations and capitalist expansion adds a further dimension, which I will discuss in Chapter 3. The positive aspects of modernity are the desire for a civilized and ordered society with a concern for humanity and justice, which become in practical terms the aspiration for improved social conditions. The negative aspects can be seen as the imperialist attitude to spreading these ‘civilizing’ influences across the globe, with no regard for the value of cultural difference. In addition, the rational attitude’s drive to assert a reasonable society, is seen as being increasingly instrumental in attempting to dominate nature, in exercising social power and in encouraging the divide between the disciplines of science, art and philosophy.