Self and the City

BEIJING – What is the big story of our age? It depends on the day, but if we count by centuries, then surely humanity’s urbanization is a strong contender. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, compared to less than 3% in 1800. By 2025, China alone is expected to have 15 “mega-cities,” each with a population of at least 25 million. Are social critics right to worry about the atomized loneliness of big-city life?

True, cities cannot provide the rich sense of community that often characterizes villages and small towns. But a different form of community evolves in cities. People often take pride in their cities, and seek to nourish their distinctive civic cultures.