From A Pattern Language:
“Mass society not only creates a confusing situation in which people find it hard to find themselves – it also . . . creates chaos, in which people are confronted by impossible variety – the variety becomes a slush, which then concentrates merely on the most obvious.”
. . . It seems then, that the metropolis creates weak character in two almost opposite ways; first, because people are exposed to a chaos of values; second, because they cling to the superficial uniformity common to all these values. A nondescript mixture of values will tend to produce nondescript people. …
… The solution is this. The metropolis must contain a large number of different subcultures, each one strongly articulated, with its own values sharply delineated, and sharply distinguished from the others. But though these subcultures must be sharp and distinct and separate, they must not be closed; they must be readily accessible to one another, so that a person can move easily from one to another, and can settle in the one which suits him best.
This solution is based on two assumptions:
I. A person will only be able to find his own self, and therefore to develop a strong character, if he is in a situation where he receives support for his idiosyncrasies from the people and values which surround him.
2. In order to find his own self, he also needs to live in a milieu where the possibility of many different value systems is explicitly recognized and honored. More specifically, he needs a great variety of choices, so that he is not misled about the nature of his own person, can see that there are many kinds of people, and can find those whose values and beliefs correspond most closely to his own.