Key Quotations in Sociology

By Kenneth Thompson | Go to book overview

URBANISM

See also COMMUNITY, GEMEINSCHAFT/GESELLSCHAFT

1 The central problem of the sociologist of the city is to discover the forms of social action and organization that typically emerge in relatively permanent, compact settlements of large numbers of heterogeneous individuals. We must also infer that urbanism will assume its most characteristic and extreme form in the measure in which the conditions with which it is congruent are present. Thus the larger, the more densely populated, and the more heterogeneous a community, the more accentuated the characteristics associated with urbanism will be. It should be recognized, however, that social institutions and practices may be accepted and continued for reasons other than those that originally brought them into existence, and that accordingly the urban mode of life may be perpetuated under conditions quite foreign to those necessary for its origin.

Louis Wirth, ‘Urbanism as a Way of Life’, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 44, no. 1, 1938, p. 9.

2 Now the fundamental point is this: everything described by Wirth as ‘urbanism’ is in fact the cultural expression of capitalist industrialization, the emergence of the market economy and the process of rationalization of modern society.

Manuel Castells, ‘Is There an Urban Sociology?’, in C.G. Pickvance (trans. and ed.), Urban Sociology: Critical Essays, London, Methuen, 1976, p. 38. Essay first published in French in 1968.

3 Many investigators, after a ritualistic bow to the notion of totality which asserts that cities are not just statistical aggregates of things and activities, quickly reduce their problem (in the name of competence or tractability) to the analysis of things and activities. The insights gained from such investigations are not to be dismissed—in fact they are invaluable raw material out of which we may fashion a conception of urbanism. But their net import is that we learn to deal…with problems in the city rather than of the city. Urbanism has to be regarded as a set of social relationships which reflects the relationships established throughout society as a whole. Further, these relationships have to express the laws whereby urban phenomena are structured, regulated and constructed.

David Harvey, Social Justice and the City, London, Edward Arnold, 1973, pp. 303-4.

4 If ways of life do not coincide with settlement types and if these ways are functions of class and life cycle rather than of the ecological attributes of the settlement, a sociological definition of the city cannot be formulated. Concepts such as city and suburb allow us to distinguish settlement types

-116-

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Key Quotations in Sociology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Part 1 - Key Concepts and Topics 1
  • Education 41
  • Family 47
  • Orientalism 76
  • Phenomenology 77
  • Urbanism 116
  • Part 2 - Key Sociological Thinkers 123
  • LÉvi-Strauss, Claude (1908-) 171
  • Name Index 201
  • Subject Index 205
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