Urban Sociology

Urban Sociology

Urban Sociology

Urban Sociology

Excerpt

The aggregation of human beings into closely knit compact groups is primarily conditioned by the organization of self-maintenance. Thus in a sparsely populated region where nature is niggardly and the environment cannot support large and increasing numbers there is little likelihood that permanent settlements will grow up. This is particularly true in the more primitive economic eras as, for instance, during the hunting and pastoral stages. But once man had acquired sufficient mastery over nature, or rather, had adapted himself to nature so as to assure himself a more certain and definite food supply through agriculture, trade, and industry, larger and larger groups of people began to congregate within limited areas where the advantages of protection from outsiders, and facilities for social and economic enjoyment were to be had.

It is apparent, then, that the basic and conditioning factor leading to the earliest permanent settlements of human beings was economic in nature. Such settlements, whether villages of prehistoric or primitive man or the great cities of today, represent more or less satisfactory adjustments to the life conditions of different human groups.

With the crowding of human beings into a limited space a new code of mores and customs arises in response to the need of this more highly artificialized environment of which the modern city is the extreme type. The community interest demands--in an unconscious, vague sort of way which might well be described as a restless urge toward better adaptation--that great enterprises in furthering the artificiality of the environment be carried out for the welfare of the group. It is the substance of some of the major adjustments to urban life, such as the realignment of rights, duties, and personal freedom in the city environment, and the communal responsibility for housing, health, education, and recreation, which affords the foundation for this book.

E. E. M.

NEW YORK CITY February, 1938 . . .

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