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A Planning Issue in “Julie and Julia” Essay

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Updated: Apr 16th, 2019

The issue of planning in cities is on the rise as far as the urbanization process is concerned. Urban development trends are closely associated with suburban sprawl phenomenon leading to overuse of territories. In order to solve the planning issue, two challenges might arise.

On the one hand, the sprawl problem can be solved by means of building skyscrapers, but this decision threatens the loss of rural territories. On the other hand, although urban development consumes land in a more reasonable way, it still produces senseless planning of the areas, leading to the loss of community and social development.

Inadequate planning is especially characteristic for large cities with dense population. Similar issues are indirectly concerned in the movie Julie and Julia where the main heroines are overwhelmed with the business routine and city conventions.

At the beginning of the movie, Julie Powell is meeting with her friends to discuss the routine problems they face in everyday life. They are concerned with the inconveniences of urban life, as well as the decisions about suburban development. One of the characters also inclines to the decision of demolishing the rural area and building skyscraper as an optimal urban solution.

The theme discussed in the movie correlates with the statement that “to [people] [sprawl] is the means of owning a house on a large lot and enjoying the convenience of one-stop mega-mall shopping” (Macionis and Parrillo, 2000, p. 110). Emergence of traffic and finance problems, as well as the necessity to move from area to another, creates social challenges to the community as well.

In addition, loss of rural areas, along with the construction of new skyscrapers and city centers, leads to the destruction of historically important heritage in the city. Extreme business of urbanized communities, however, lessens the importance of cultural heritance and, as a result, fewer people are concerned with the problems of socialization.

In the movie, Julia Powell works as an operator of a call-center at Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s, and her primary responsibility lies in meeting the needs of the citizens. However, people suppressed with routine problems fail to understand the needs and problems of each other, which is the result of urbanization and lack of cultural importance assigned to the cities.

With emerging sprawl problems in urban communities, the question of urban planning comes to the forth. On the one hand, the urban community can be considered as a self-regulated polis with independent residents. On the other hand, the routine of daily life makes the citizens of modern cities helpless instruments and faceless forces.

Such a statement appeals to the discussion of the concept of urban power and control (Mollenkopf, 1992). In fact, the planning issues should be closely connected with social values and meet concerns of individuals, as it has been presented in the movie.

In particular, the main heroine Julia Child confronts the stereotypes about women as the members of the urban society. The protagonist breaks the prejudiced attitude and enters the male-dominating world.

The necessity for introducing social dimension to an urban setting is vital. In particular, the reasons for social disorder are partly rooted in city organization and development. In the movie, Julia Powell faces a challenge when she and her husband had to move to another apartment to be within easy reach from her husband’s work.

They need to confront the social pressure and change their lifestyles to meet the demands of urban community. According to Southworth and Eran (2003), “…inevitable social disorder would be controlled best by improving the environment” (p. 62). In this respect, the importance of residential philosophy is indispensible to shaping the social paradigms of suburban life.

What is more important is that the development of functional zones for citizens can allow them to strike the balance between work and pleasure and arrange their daily activities in the most efficient way. Before introducing city reforms, it is purposeful to discuss what problems a modern urban area faces.

This is of particular concern to time management, transport, and working office location that have a potent impact on the welfare of an individual as a member of community. As Southworth and Eran (2003), attention to roads and transportation systems should be enhanced because it influences the community networks organizations, as well as their effective functioning.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that the planning issues closely correlate with social welfare of the urban community. Indeed, the inconveniences of urban life cause significant problems in terms of communication and social interaction. As a result, large cities can hardly be associated with self-regulating communities and a well-structured organization.

This is of particular concern to sprawl problems leading to destruction of rural areas and emergence of skyscrapers. In addition, urban problems also lead to unhealthy social response to city organization is in part the reasons for lack of good organization and effective time management.

Poorly organized systems of transportation do not contribute to public welfare and, as result, most of the city sectors cannot function properly.


Macionis, J. J., & Parrillo, V. N. (2000). Cities and Suburbs of the Twenty-First Century. In J. J. Macionis and V. N. Parrilo (Eds) Cities and Urban Life. (pp. 108-115) New York: Prentice Hall.

Mollenkopf, J. (1992). How to Study Urban Political Power. In. J. H. Mollenkopf (Eds.) Phoenix in the Ashes: The Rise and Fall of the Koch Coalition in New York City Politics. (pp. 220-228) US: Princeton University Press.

Southworth, M. & Eran, B.-J. (2003). Street Standards and Shaping of Suburbia. Journal of the American Planning Association. 61(1), 65-74.

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