Myths of the City

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Through an online survey, we assessed the views about urban life and urban development of 500 Australian citizens living in three large cities. Differences in perceptions and opinions can be described along three dimensions which, in alignment with cultural theory, we name Myths of the City. The analysis of their relation to a number of constructs from the social cognition literature reveals that each myth has a clear and distinct cognitive signature. The Cultural City Myth combines a positive attitude towards life in large cities and urban growth with concerns about equity, power balance, and social and environmental crises while endorsing larger public participation in urban planning. The Anti-Urban Myth holds a bleak outlook on the future, resulting in a negative view of urban life and urban growth. The Mighty City Myth, endorsed by younger, better educated, less liberal citizens, reflects expectations that all aspects of future life will improve. Surprisingly, the three myths share a small, but statistically significant positive correlation implying that some citizens may simultaneously hold contrasting beliefs about urban issues. Both these results and the use of the questionnaire developed for this study can facilitate public engagement and communication around issues of urban management and policy making.




Boschetti, F., Gaffier, C., Price, J., Moglia, M., & Walker, I. (2017). Myths of the City. Sustainability Science, 12(4), 611–620.

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