Rolf Lindner

To see oneself in the other fellow’s place

Urban Reportage, the Chicago School and the New York Photo League


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"To get news so completely and to report it so humanly that the reader will see himself in the other fellow's place" – this aim was how the American publicist Lincoln Steffens saw the true ideal of journalism. What urban reportage around 1900, the early ethnographic studies of the Chicago School of Urban Sociology and the camera work of the New York Photo league had in common was the idea of providing insight into other lifeworlds so that the audience can feel empathy with others. In this way the aesthetic function of the media, as formulated by the social philosopher George Herbert Mead, could be fulfilled: To stimulate communitarization by conveying the experiences of others.

urban reportage, aesthetic experience, urban ethnography, street photography, humanity of method