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On Beauty

A chronicle of delightful things: architecture, design, travel, food, music, drink, and such – with inevitable diversions.

Most work is my own (unless otherwise noted). There are lots more deligtful things under "Stuff I Like" above, too!
Stuff I like
Posts tagged "sociology"


Why the Places We Live Make Us Happy - “We find that the design and conditions of cities are associated with the happiness of residents in 10 urban areas. Cities that provide easy access to convenient public transportation and to cultural and leisure amenities promote happiness. Cities that are affordable and serve as good places to raise children also have happier residents. We suggest that such places foster the types of social connections that can improve happiness and ultimately enhance the attractiveness of living in the city.”

via The Atlantic.

(via panmesa)

Our main thesis is that residential mobility, the very factor that allows Americans to pursue their individual desires, ironically facilitates the uniformity of American landscapes. This is because a move to a “strange land” evokes the desire for familiar objects, including national chain stores. Although starting a new life in a new city is exciting, a residential move also causes a significant amount of stress and anxiety. … This general state of agitation, stress, and overload is expected to lay the foundation for familiarity-seeking behaviors among movers.

-Shigehiro Oishi, professor of psychology at UVA

via Eric Jaffe, in the Atlantic, Why Americans Love Chain Stores: A Psychological Perspective

The economic meltdown of 2008 was not just a crisis of Wall Street, of wanton financial speculation, and of an economy debt-bingeing on housing and consumer goods, though all of those things were implicated, but a deeper crisis that ran to the roots of the old Fordist order and the very way of life it had engendered. We are in that strange interregnum when the old order has collapsed and the new order is not yet born. The old order has failed; attempts to bail it out, to breathe new life into it or to somehow prop it back up are doomed to history’s dustbin. A new global economic order is taking shape, but it is still confined within the brittle carapace of the old, with all of the outmoded, wasteful, oil-dependent, sprawling, unsustainable ways of life that went along with it.

The rise of a new economic and social order is a double-edged sword: it unleashes incredible energies, but it also causes tremendous hardships. We are in the midst of a painful and dangerous process, one that is full of unknowns; we tend to forget what a fraught and dangerous business childbirth is. My hope is that by understanding this new order, we can speed the transformation.

Still, that new order will not simply or automatically assert itself into existence. It will require new institutions, a new social compact, and a new way of life to bring it into being. We must turn our attention from a form of economic growth that is reflected in housing starts, automobile sales, energy consumption, and other crass material measures to a shared and sustainable prosperity that lifts human well-being and happiness across the board. We must shift from a way of life that valorizes consumption, in which we take our identities from the branded characteristics of the goods we purchase, to one that enables us to develop our talents and our individuality, finding purpose through our work and other meaningful kinds of activities. Our fledgling creative economy needs to give way to a fully creative society, one that is more just, more equitable, more sustainable, and more prosperous. Our economic future depends on it.

-Richard Florida in The Atlantic, The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited

Over 40% of recent college graduates are living with their parents, dealing with government loans that average $27,200. The unemployment rate for young people is about 50%. More than 350,000 Americans with advanced degrees applied for food stamps in 2010.

As Washington lobbyists endeavor to kill a proposed bill to reduce the interest rates on student debt, federal loans remain readily available, and so colleges go right on increasing their tuition.

Meanwhile, corporations hold $2 trillion in cash while looking for investments and employees in foreign countries, and American students are forced to accept menial positions. Yet delusions persist about our new generation of would-be workers. Conservatives are all bubbly about today’s young entrepreneurs creating their own jobs — jobs that “don’t yet exist.”
Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life. What matters is that people of different backgrounds and social positions encounter one another, and bump up against one another, in the course of everyday life. For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.