chapter  15
Deus ex Machina: Evangelical Sites, Urbanism, and the Construction of Social Identities
Pages 18

I t is both helpful, and unhelpful, to regard the city as a machine-helpful, as part of an analysis of systems of cultural production, and unhelpful as a reductive account of quasi-universal labor and capital processes. The idea of the city as machine is an awareness of industrial Europe: Many records of this in the discourses of the mid-nineteenth century might be adduced, of which Charles Dickens’s account of Coketown in Hard Times (1854) might be taken as representative:

The synecdochal logic of this trope is clear: Cities which, from the industrial era, took on increasingly specialized roles in the production of certain commodities, could with some justice be said not only to consist of machines for such production, but in fact to be themselves large machines ordered on a logic of production. Marxist-inspired urban theories (such as

the work of the “regulation school”) have developed this trope by considering the city as the site of “material practices” rationalizing labor and other resources for the purposes of capitalist production and consumption.2