Skip to main content
Graduate Program in Communication & Culture

Faculty Profiles

Alan Blum

Media & Culture

University   York University
E-Mail Address
Phone Number   (416) 323-1691
Office Location   561 Bloor St. West. 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON, M5S1Y6
Office Hours   TBA


B.A. Anthropology and Sociology (Roosevelt); M.A. (University of Chicago); Ph.D. Sociology and Social Psychology (University of Chicago)


Alan Blum is the Director of the Culture of Cities Centre located in Toronto and directs and is one of the principal investigators of the research project on City Life and Well-Being: the Grey Zone of Health and Illness funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. Dr. Blum received his PhD from the University of Chicago, was US National Institutes of Mental Health Fellow in the department of Psychiatry at Harvard, and was a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, King’s College, England. becoming professor of sociology at Columbia University and New York University. He is currently Professor Emeritus and teaches in several graduate programs at York University and the University of Waterloo such as  Sociology and Social and Political Thought at York, and in the Graduate Programs of English and Rhetoric, and in Sociology at the University of Waterloo. Blum was a Visiting Professor  at universities in the US and the UK including the University of Wales, The Institute of Social Change at the University of California at Berkeley, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the New College of the University of South Florida, and has been recipient of research fellowships from foundations such as Leverhulme, and the MacArthur among others . He is the author of numerous books, including The Imaginative Structure of the City; Theorizing; On the Beginning of Social Inquiry (with Peter McHugh, Stanley Raffel and Daniel Foss) and Self-Reflection in the Arts and Sciences (with Peter McHugh). He was the originator and co-director of the Institute of Social Theory in Perugia, Italy (1978-83). Dr. Blum is currently completing a collection of studies on the culture of the city entitled Secret Space, Sacred Place, a monograph on The Material City, as well as a variety of current research studies on health and the city.


Research Interests

Medical Humanities; Culture of the City; Sociology of Knowledge; Theorizing Everyday Life; The Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real registers of Social Life and Phenomena


Selected Publications


The Grey Zone in Health and Illness (Intellect Press:  Bristol, UK: University of Chicago, 2010)

The Imaginative Structure of the City (Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 2003)

Chapters in Books

“The Imaginary of Self Satisfaction: Reflections on the Platitude of the “Creative City” in Circulation and the City: Essays on Mobility and Urban Culture edited by Alexandrta Boutros and Will Straw, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2010.

“Preserving the Notion of Preservation: The Ineradicable Perpetuity of Me, Myself and I”,  in  The Venice Charter Revisited, edited by Mathew Hardy, published by Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010.

“Dying, Waiting: The Imaginary of Light Hearted Writing” in Spectacular Death: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Mortality and (Un)representability, edited by Tristanne Connolly, Intellect Press, 2010.

2008. “Health, Desire, City: Theorizing and the Method of Analogy” in Alternative Histories of Urban Consumption, edited by Susan Ingram, Mille, Tre Verlag, Wien.

2006 “Comparing Cities: On the Mutual Honoring of Peculiarities”, Urban Enigmas, edited by Johanne Sloan, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.


2005 "Ground Zero comme Spectacle," for issue on Le Spectacle des Villes in Sociologie et Sociétés, edited by Anouk Bélanger and J .F. Côté, Spring, Volume XXXVII, Number 1.

2003 "New York New York”, Monopolis: Globalization and Urban Studies International Research Center for Cultural Studies and the Institute for Urban and Regional Research.

2002 “Un lieu qui n’en est pas un”, Spirale, January-February, Number 182.

2001 “Scenes,” in Scenes and the City: Special Issue of Public, edited by Janine Marchessault and Will Straw, November.

2001 “Voice and its Registers”, Poeisis: Journal of Art and Communication.


2002 Report on Arts Funding in Berlin, Dublin, Montreal and Toronto, Prepared for the City of Toronto.



By Field of Study
























Harold [Innis] taught us how to use the bias of culture and communication as an instrument of research. By directing attention to the bias, or distorting power of the dominant imagery and technology of any culture, he showed us how to understand cultures.
~ Marshall McLuhan