Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Studying Individual, Environment and Interaction of the Two

I spent last weekend working on these readings while visiting good friends who left Boston six months ago to live in the heart of downtown Chicago. These friends moved specifically re professions, big-city amenities and the opportunity to eventually buy a house for less than 400K (in the suburbs). Re the readings and thoughts, I’m thinking about the ebb and flow of people into, out of and within urban areas (in modern days or generations ago) – how much of what drives the city and these individuals is interdependent? In some ways, the readings range from over-generalizing populations to under-estimating effects of individual and environment. Gans’ insights help show a way to study such forces, but how can we better understand the multiple layers within the individual, the environment and interaction between the two?

1 comment:

Aaron said...

I suspect the practical answer for most researchers is that individual characteristics will disappear in the aggregate and the fact that one hypothetical city-dweller differs from his or her neighbors in a significant way becomes insignificant when we're talking about the city as an entity. This is, of course, kind of an unsatisfying approach.

Part of the problem is that there are bound to be conflating variables when you're looking at the interaction between individual and environment, or the expression of the individual within the environment. Your friends in Chicago are able to live in 'burbs because several governments got together and built a commuter highway system (or, alternately, a commuter train system), something which I don't think you can really call an endogenous product of the environment. That kind of force will have an effect not just on the individual's desires, but also on the expression of those desires and the steps taken to fulfill them.

(I notice that Blogger refers to authorized posters as "team members." Just like Shopko!)