Subject Matter Of Urban Sociology

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Subject Matter Of Urban Sociology

Urban sociology is a branch of sociology that deals with the impact of city life on social action, social relations, social institutions and the types of civilization based on and derived from urban ways of life. Urban sociology examines a range of issues including:


 History of Urbanization To provide perspective and comparative material on earlier urbanization.

 Explanation of urban demographic characteristics including population size distribution etc. 

 Nature and solution of urban social ills like crime, delinquency, drug abuse, pollution, overcrowding, housing, unemployment etc.


 Urban sociology draws information from various sources and subjects like education, health, courts, police etc. Economics, Public Administration, Social Psychology, History etc.

 Sociologists are interested in urbanization because the urban way of life is becoming more and more dominant.


 To understand and explain the socio-cultural and behavioral characteristics of urban dwellers and urban communities. The values, sentiments, desires etc. of urban communities as opposed to rural characteristics.


 Ecological organization and socio-geographical differentiation of cities, spatial distribution and structure of cities, interrelationships and interactions between different socio-geographical areas (suburbs, slums).


 Social and cultural changes in the organizational structure and functioning of various sub-sectors of the city. Causes and consequences of social change. Reactions to the process of social change including maladjustment, conflict, harmony etc. among different urban groups.





Scope Of Urban Sociology



Urban studies, as a distinct branch of sociology, deals in depth with the study of the impact of the city on human social actions, social relations, social institutions, and the types of civilizations that are based on the urban lifestyle. It is a spatial study of the relationship between man and his environment in which man becomes the conditioning factor on the environment. Urban studies is the specialized study of problems related to city life and development of urban areas. Urban studies deals with the whole complex of conditions that make up urban life. it studies all




Aspects of urban life such as its land area, population composition structure, housing pattern, groups of population, social organization etc.


In urban sociology, we also study the factors and causes of social and individual disorganization and their remedies. It also studies ways and means of bringing about disharmony and harmony and peaceful constructive relations between labor and management. Urban studies not only presents the facts of urban life but also evaluates the facts to understand their causes and means of improvement.


Urban studies is a special discipline of sociology that deals with the social structure of population and the problems associated with urban development. Urban problems today command the major attention of urban sociologists because of their complexity and their longing for immediate solutions. Urban studies explains the interaction between the urban environment and the development of the human personality. It also studies the structure of the family, the role of the family and the permanent and changing elements of the family and also the factors responsible for the disorganization of the family. Urban studies examines the class structure and class struggle in urban societies. It also studies features of social disorder such as crime, prostitution, beggary, unemployment, disease, pollution, slums, entertainment centres, bars, clubs and night life.











  Growth of Urban Sociology as a Field of Study in the West:



The field of urban sociology was recognized within the formal discipline of sociology in the United States in the late 19th century. Till 1921 there was no less effort to make it a discipline. A systematic discipline of urban sociology came into existence only in the 20th century. Much intensive work has been done in the specific area of urban sociology. Several books have been published on classification of towns and cities, development of towns, urban environment, social disorganization in cities, demographic trends, family, marriage, divorce etc.

Urban sociology as we see it today began in 1928 at the University of Chicago. first department of sociology

was established in 1892. Leading sociologists such as William. I Thomas, William Ogburn contributed to the study of the city. later sociologists

likes Ernest. W. Burgess and Louis Wirth also contributed to the Chicago School. chicago




The school treated the city as a natural phenomenon subject to a set of natural processes, for example segregation is a natural process.

Dubois, another American thinker, was committed to a scientific approach to the specific problems regarding the geographic distribution of blacks, their occupations, daily lives, their homes and organizations, and their place in the sociological structure of the city with their fellow whites. He had relations with the citizens. In 1907, a charitable foundation funded research to gather information on social conditions in the modern metropolis. A survey was conducted by the institution in Pittsburgh to find out the working and living conditions of workers in industries and factories.

In 1929, Zorbaugh studied ethnographic literature to describe the social life of one of Chicago’s natural areas in his ‘Gold Coast and the Slum’. In the same year, 1929, Shaw published a book on juvenile delinquency and crime in urban society. In addition, sociologists in Europe and the United States developed a number of new theories to explain modern industrial society and its social relations.


Some of these modern European theorists included Tönnies, Durkheim, Simmel, and Weber. Two emerging theories—Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft and the Folk-Urban Continuum—have their origins in the Chicago School. In the folk-urban continuum, Chicago School anthropologist Robert Redfield described a modern distinction between the ways people live in small and large communities. Special mention may also be made of intensive research into the mechanisms of social welfare, religion, cultural and educational institutions, town planning and resettlement in cities.

According to Kingsley Davis, the reasons why sociologists are interested in the urban phenomenon include:

  1. Urban way of life is a recent phenomenon in the history of mankind.
  2. Urbanization has brought revolutionary changes in the entire pattern of social life. It affects every aspect of human life, social institutions, production systems, transportation, etc.


  1. Urban centers are the centers of power and influence in the entire society. The most important economic activities (trade, communication, administration, etc.) are concentrated in urban areas. Cities are centers of political power and residences of emperors and presidents (governors).
  2. The process of urbanization is still taking place and its direction is uncertain. There are many problems associated with urbanization

Percentage of world population living in places with 5000 or more population


Year Percentage of urban population

1800 3%

1900 14%

1950 28%

1980 45%

2000 55%

2025 64%




The above table indicates that the settlement pattern of human population which was predominantly rural has been in the process of reversal and over time the rural population is decreasing while the urban share is increasing. Before the Industrial Revolution, the proportion of the rural population was very large, whereas after the Industrial Revolution, there has been a huge increase in the urban population. It is estimated that by the year 2025, about 64% of the world’s population will be urban. According to Kingsley Davis, the reasons why sociologists are interested in the urban phenomenon include:



Sociology as an Urban Enterprise


  • Industrialization and urbanization in the 19th century were massive changes that transcended human production, technological innovations, and social relations. This means that sociology has rooted itself to study the social problems of these great trends and it is all about the urban and thus sociology is an urban enterprise. The massive change has changed:


  • Classical sociologists such as Comte (social statics and dynamics), Durkheim (organic and mechanical solidarity), Marx (exploitation, alienation and surplus value) and Weber (rationality and bureaucracy) were concerned with the causes and consequences of change and possible solutions. For created social problems.


  • The luminous work of these pioneers of sociology in turn highlights the concern of sociology as an urban enterprise.


Social organizations appeared in formal/bureaucratic organizations with poor working conditions in factories

– Social structures eg. the ownership of property such as land was transferred,

Family structure has changed and size has decreased, child labor exploitation has increased

– Mobility of society, especially rural-urban migration



  Definition and measurement of concepts


  1. a) Urban Settlement: Defining the concept of urban settlement is not an easy task. There is no single definition that every body agrees with. Thus, various approaches have been developed to define the concept of “urban settlement”.

–       Economic

– Demograph Hick

– Political/Administrative/Legal

– Cultural/Social Relations

– Multiple Factors Definition

Demographic Definition: Focuses on statistical considerations. According to this view, urban settlements are those settlements which have a fixed number of population. This fixed number varies from country to country.

For example: Botswana ≥ 5000

Ethiopia ≥2000

USA ≥2500

Peru ≥100

Canada ≥1000

Japan ≥50,000

Denmark ≥ 250

Administrative Definition (Legal):

Declaration of one place by the authorities (four

Through grant) is called an urban settlement.


Economic definition: focused on business. Accordingly, an urban settlement is one where majority of the residents are engaged in sectors other than agriculture like trade, industry. It does not mean total absence of agricultural activities. This means that agriculture is not dominant.

Social Relations Definition: Defines urban, as a locality that has grown up, and the residents do not know each other. Face-to-face contact is high but people are less likely to know each other.

Definition of Multiple Factors: Since no single definition gives us an adequate meaning for an urban settlement, several factors have to be considered. In this regard, Alvin Boscoff has defined an urban area as “a community or complex of communities characterized by the dominance of commercial, industrial and service occupations, and the widespread division of labor and corresponding social complexity; high density of population”. and the development of coordination and social control based on non-kinship.

This definition is probably the broadest.

To avoid confusion, the United Nations has attempted to develop its definition specifically for the purpose of international comparison. This definition is based on demographic factors.


The United Nations has identified 3 categories of urban settlements:

  1. Big city = at least 0.5 million population
  2. City = having a population of at least 100,000
  3. Urban area = population of at least 20,000


The United Nations uses this classification when publishing statistical data. But the problem with this classification is that it is not adopted by many countries because different countries make their own local definitions, there is a problem of standard meaning for urban settlement.


Urbanization is the process of population concentration in urban areas. It especially involves the movement of people from rural to urban areas. There are two simple ways of urbanization:

  1. Level of urbanization growth
  2. Rate of urbanization



Level of urbanization = urban population = ratio

rural population


Level of urbanization = urban population x 100 =%

urban population



Rate of urbanization = current year urban population – previous year population

last year’s population


RU = cyup – pyup x 100





Sociologists view urbanization as the result of three interrelated factors

  1. A significant increase in the population of a given geographical area.
  2. Corresponding increase in social density as a result of population growth.
  3. There is an increasing diversity of people as there are more and more diverse people


Ready for increased urban settlement. These three factors give rise to a number of organizational consequences, the most important of which is the social division of labor in economic activity.


Louis Wirth has given four characteristics of urbanism.


  • Permanence: A city dweller’s relationship with others lasts only for a short period of time; He forgets his old acquaintances and develops relationships with new ones. Since he is not much attached to the members of his neighbors’ social groups, he does not mind leaving them.


  • Individualism: People give more importance to their vested interests.

A metropolitan city is a type of city where a major city center is surrounded by a complex of densely populated and economically integrated suburban communities.

A conurbation—a group of cities and towns forming a continuous network—can contain a large number of people.

  • It also implies the merger of many already existing cities.
  • How is the pinnacle of urban life represented today?

Megalopolis, ‘city of cities.’

  • The term “megalopolis”, as coined by the French geographer Jean Gottmann, is generally applied to an urbanized area that includes several metropolitan areas.


  • Superficiality: An urban person has a limited number of people with whom he interacts and his relations with them are impersonal and formal. People meet each other in highly segmented roles. They depend on more people to meet the needs of their life.
  • Anonymity: The townspeople do not know each other intimately. personal interaction

There is a lack of familiarity between residents commonly found in a neighborhood.

  • The term was first used in relation to the north-eastern sea coast of

United States, a metropolis located about 450 miles north of Boston to downtown Washington, DC.

  • About 40 million people live in the region at a density of over 700 per cent

square mile.

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