Relationship Between The Materiality Of A City And Its Security

2004 words - 8 pages

To answer the question posed above, I will first consider what constitutes the materiality of the city, then I will consider security in the context of the city. Finally, I will then the relationship between the materiality of the city and its security.

What constitutes the materiality of a city?
The materiality of a city is the personification of that city, or urban environment through the physical objects that serve to make up the component parts of the city. These may be the physical buildings, the roads and pavements through to the street furniture and the open spaces, plants and landscaping. The other elements that populate these spaces also serve to define the materiality of the city – trams, busses, cars, cyclists and even pedestrian traffic.

Whilst this represents the “public” face of materiality, there is a more private face constructed by the individuals that inhabit the city. Their own constructions within their private spaces are part of the material of the city, but are not generally shared. The decoration and furnishing of an apartment may be influenced and controlled by a number of factors – the previous occupier, the ownership of the property and the availability of materials in the city. In addition, the sense of security may influence the design and material in the apartment. There may be additional locks, an alarm system or even bars fitted to the windows as the result of the perceived need for protection, or a lack of security. (Watson, 2008) describes a gated community, where additional physical security is added to an area to exclude others and promote a feeling of personal safety inside the compound. The safety sought by the inhabitants of these compounds is the fear of crime – perhaps engendered by the recent portrayal in the media as the immigrant and the poor as the key actors in the game of crime. This issue of this as a campaigning point in the French Presidential Elections in 2002 was illustrated by Bauman cited in (Watson, 2008, p. 117). The same xenophobic attitude can still be seen coming into play today with the modern day coverage being given to the deregulation of visa requirements for the Eastern European members of the EU. Right wing newspapers stir up feelings against Easter European immigrants, bizarrely supported by second-generation immigrants from Asia. (Dawar, 2013). This is further illustrated by the view of a British Kenyan shop owner show who criticises the “crime, unemployed and ‘too many refugees’” (Watson, 2008, p. 138)

What is Security in a City?
This raises a question of what security is in a city and how the residents can feel safe. There are a number of risks to safety in the city – some are natural, others are fabricated and the relative risk is very much within the mind of the resident. Depending on the location of the urbanisation, there may be natural risks – such as earthquake or severe weather. The recent floodings in the UK (Weaver, 2013) highlight another, seasonal,...

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