American Cities: The Grid Plan and the Protestant Ethic

  • Richard SennettEmail author


By expanding on the relation between space and culture, this chapter scrutinizes the interaction between the grid plan and the Protestant Ethic. Moving between a critique of religious philosophy and the psychology of the urban form as a social construct, the chapter exemplifies the entanglement of cultural values with the spatial order. The author argues that this entanglement and its particular realization in the very form of U.S. cities has had a powerful effect on modern vision, just as, in Max Weber’s formulation, religious techniques of self-regulation continued long after religious faith had waned. The chapter suggests that the American grid plan was a sign of a peculiarly modern form of repression based upon the denial of meaning and difference through the production of abstract urban spaces of neutrality.


Grid plan Symbolic power U.S. cities Capitalism Repression Neutrality Max Weber Protestant Ethic 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London School of EconomicsLondonUK

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