Skip to main content

Cityscapes of Modernity: Critical Explorations



Cityscapes of Modernity: Critical Explorations

David Frisby

ISBN: 978-0-745-62625-3 December 2001 Polity 392 Pages


The modern metropolis has been one of the crucial sites for the exploration of modernity since at least the mid-nineteenth century. In this new volume, David Frisby provides an original and critical examination of the construction and experience of metropolitan modernity.

Drawing on a rich variety of sources, Frisby seeks to reveal some key features of metropolitan experience in modernity. Among the issues examined are Benjamin's account of the flâneur and its relevance for social investigation and urban detection; Simmel's influential essay on the metropolis; contrasting interpretations of fin-de-siècle Berlin and Vienna by Sombart; the work of Otto Wagner; and the response to the modern metropolis as highlighted in German Expressionism and Weimar Berlin.

Cityscapes of Modernity will be a valuable text for students of sociology, social theory, urban theory, cultural studies and architectural history, as well as all those interested in the urban culture of modernity.




Chapter 1: The City Observed: The Flâneur in Social Theory.

Chapter 2 : The City Detected: Representations and Realities of Detection.

Chapter 3: The City Interpreted: Georg Simmel's Metropolis.

Chapter 4: The City Compared: Vienna is not Berlin.

Chapter 5: The City Designed: Otto Wagner and Vienna.

Chapter 6: The City Dissolved: Social Theory, the Metropolis and Expressionism.

Chapter 7: The City Rationalized: Martin Wagner's New Berlin.





"This book by David Frisby has his characteristic hallmarks: it is meticulously well researched and it makes unexpected and exciting connections between bodies of thought not commonly linked together. Indeed the playing off of social theory and architectural theory is one of its distinctive contributions. His various asides, for instance his interest in detective stories, or on expressionism, are always provocative and interesting. A book to be celebrated." Mike Savage, University of Manchester

‘A wonderfully incisive dissection of new configurations of "cities" in the contemporary world' John Urry, Lancaster University

"The collection as a whole offers empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated contextual readings of major sociologists' reflections on urban life....In Frisby's hands, spatial dynamics become an indispensable component of sociological theory." Environment and Planning

"the collection as a whole offers empirically rich and theoriectically sophisticated contextual readings of major sociologists' reflections on urban life. In Frisby's hands, spatial dynamics become an indipensable component of sociological theory". Thomas Lekan, Department of History, University of South Carolina.

  • A sophisticated account of the work of key German thinkers, including Benjamin and Simmel, and their writings about the city.

  • Will have a wide-ranging approach, appealing to students and scholars of social theory but also urban studies and architecture.

  • Features 15 illustrations