Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anti-government ideologies, the Shrinking Middle Class and the Death of Architecture: Part III

 Architecture as a commodity

When the community is replaced by the individual there are psychological social traits which are enhanced for the better and those for the worse. Personal efficiency, responsibility, competition and shear effort, it's argued, are increased when driven by selfish entrepreneurial motives.  Viscerally this makes sense in that personal success is common to the human condition.  We hear it in language "keep up with Joneses", we see it on the road with luxury cars, we see it with clothing brands and fashion we feel it at our high school reunion.  One hears this in the antidotes of the self-employed who express  the freedom and ease which comes with working and  building ones own business. The idea that individuality creates accountability and in turn efficiency has found it's way into everything from the military subcontractors, to NASA, to schools, to prisons, to roads.  The private sector can do it better mentality is a near truism in American society.
I would argue (supported by numerous studies) that this not supported by fact and is instead a political myth.  Even though efficiency, it could be argued, has less to do with  the owner, public or private, more to do with size and culture, it's mythos as a truism has dramatically affected the quality of the built environment. To this point it's validity is irrelevant but it's effects are clear.

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