Experiments with Truth: Analysis

Those who walk together rise up together

From New York’s Zuccotti Park to Egypt’s Tahrir Square, popular uprisings of the last few years have often been credited to the organizing power of digital social networks like Twitter and Facebook. But shared public spaces in dense urban areas have a lot more organizing power than hashtags or retweets, and there’s new research to back that up.

The Urban Affairs Review paper “Walk and Be Moved: How Walking Builds Social Movements” by Brian Knudsen and Terry Clark underscores how dense city living exposes residents to new ideas and connections, and in turn fosters the creation of social movement organizations. The authors (Knudsen works at Urban Innovation Analysis, a Chicago design firm, and Clark is a sociology professor at the University of Chicago) base their research on the interaction between the urbs — our physical infrastructure, our streets, our parks, our commerce — and the civitas — the people who give those places meaning collectively.

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