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Why we tell each other urban legends

Modern urban legends

Modern urban legends

Urban legends give people a way to focus and personify the anxieties that come from living in a modern city. It also creates a sense of community when sharing these tales.

Modern urban legends mix the normal and the supernatural, changing how we view our surroundings.

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Why we tell each other urban legends

Why we tell each other urban legends

https://theconversation.com/from-victorian-demons-to-the-beijing-night-bus-why-we-tell-each-other-urban-legends-140301

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

Modern urban legends

Urban legends give people a way to focus and personify the anxieties that come from living in a modern city. It also creates a sense of community when sharing these tales.

Modern urban legends mix the normal and the supernatural, changing how we view our surroundings.

Making sense of the city

People in 19th-century Britain used folk tales to adjust to the experience of city living. Folklore was continually updated. It expressed concerns about urban development, the threat of strangers, and a shrinking sense of community as people no longer knew one another.


In Victorian London, a tale was told about Spring-heeled Jack, a supposedly clawed, fire-breathing ghost that terrorised villages. The figure thrived in rumour. However, no person who had actually 'seen' the ghost could be found.

Modern urban tales

  • Iris folkloric monsters such as the banshee are still spreading in modern urban living. These stories act as a warning to help police the boundaries between safe and unsafe areas.
  • In 21st-century Beijing, the city's night bus has become the focus of frightening stories about encounters with ghosts. Usually, an older, wise figure saves the rider by luring them off the bus, and then promptly disappears. The tale expresses the vulnerability of travelling the city at night.

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