Dean Rohrer

Self and the City

BEIJING – Quel est le trait dominant de notre époque? Selon les jours et à l’échelle des siècles, l’urbanisation en est certainement le plus saillant. Aujourd’hui, plus de la moitié de la population mondiale vit dans les villes, contre moins de 3% en 1800. En 2025, il y aura, en Chine seulement, une quinzaine de mégalopoles comptant chacune plus de 25 millions d’habitants. Les sciences sociales ont-elles raison de s’alarmer devant la solitude et l’atomisation de l’individu qui caractérisent la vie urbaine?

Il est vrai que les grandes villes sont dénuées du sentiment de communauté qui est couramment l’apanage des villages et des petites villes. Mais c’est un autre sentiment de communauté qui fleurit dans les grandes villes. Les gens s’enorgueillissent souvent de leur ville, et ils cherchent à en cultiver les particularités.

La ville comme objet de fierté est loin d’être un phénomène récent. Dans l’Antiquité, les Athéniens s’identifiaient à l’idéal de démocratie qu’était l’èthos de leur ville, tandis que les Spartiates étaient fiers que leur ville doive sa renommée à son esprit de discipline et à sa puissance militaire. Bien sûr, les zones urbaines d’aujourd’hui sont immenses, disparates et multiples, alors il peut sembler étrange de prétendre que la ville moderne a un èthos qui modèle la vie collective de ses occupants.

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