Moving to the City

The majority of migrants move to cities. At COMPAS we recently started a new portfolio of work on ‘Urban Transformations’. We decided it would be an opportune time therefore to connect our differing knowledges of the city and migration and reflect on mobility and immobility in these contexts.

Notes from Pier-Luc Dupont, COMPAS visiting academic

Urbanites: indifferent to difference?

Over a century ago, poetically-minded sociologist Georg Simmel claimed that the metropolis, with its wealth of unexpected and violent stimuli, “creates in the sensory foundations of mental life […] a deep contrast with the slower, more habitual, more smoothly flowing rhythm of the sensory-mental phase of small town and rural existence”. Because of their intellectualistic disposition, metropolitan types tended to adopt a “purely matter-of-fact attitude in the treatment of persons and things in which a formal justice [was] often combined with an unrelenting hardness”. Dominated by the impersonal money economy, the metropolis fostered a blasé “indifference toward the distinctions between things”, which tended to be “experienced as meaningless”.

Read more…



Here are the readings that we discussed:

  • Sennett, Richard. The open city.
  • Simmel, Georg. 2002. [1903]. The metropolis and mental life. In The Blackwell City Reader, Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson, eds. Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Nina Glick-Schiller, Tsypylma Dareiva, and Sandra Gruner-Domic.  2011. Defining cosmopolitan sociability in a transnational age. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 34(3):399-418.
  • Laroui, Fouad. My father’s antenna.



Asylum and RefugeesCitiesCitizenshipLabour Markets