Interaction, Indifference, Injustice: Elements of a Normative Theory of Urban Solidarity

  • Mervyn Horgan


While popular conceptions of urban living proclaim the city as a cold and heartless place, this chapter demonstrates that the complex nexus of orientations and interactions sustaining urban anonymity rests upon the tension between the promise of individual freedom and the threat of social disintegration that the city poses. Drawing on Goffman and Simmel, I offer a new concept, ‘non-mutual indifference,’ as a way of understanding the advancement and ubiquity of ‘softer’ forms of inequality in contemporary cities and then offer examples by drawing briefly on interviews conducted in a Toronto neighbourhood characterized by increased structural inequality. The chapter concludes by asserting that urban social solidarity must rest on a principle of what I call ‘minimal mutual recognition’ as a baseline from which to move towards the achievement of social justice.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mervyn Horgan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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