Man's Quest for Social Guidance: The Study of Social Problems

By Howard W. Odum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
THE CITY AND SOCIETY

Urbanized Society. The urbanization of civilization constitutes one of the main features of modern times. Alongside the equally epochal industrial processes the growth of cities has tended to work great transformations in society. The city has affected all phases of man's life. The growth of population, the concentration of industries, and the physical location and development of cities have contributed largely to the character of commerce and industry. The city has become a social pattern through which social evolution is carried on. Intellectual life and habits, social life and customs, moral standards and order all evolve out of the city and revolve around it. The death rate, the birth rate, health, and recreation become special problems among congested populations. New communities, new neighborhoods, new ethnic groups, and other classes grow up to make the city the most complex unit of modern society. We are accustomed to speak of the city as the most advanced form of civilization. Likewise, we are accustomed to contrast the city with the country. And the rapid growth of the city and the migration of the people from the rural areas to the urban areas have brought about rural life problems of a distinct type. America, only a few generations ago primarily rural, with rural habits, customs, and economic basis, has now come to be a nation with more than half of its population living in the cities.

Social Conditions in the City. Social conditions in the city are special conditions. They represent much of artificial civilization. They are often admittedly such as to encourage the prevalence of vice, crime, poverty, dependency, and other social evils. Many of these conditions are studied in the recent volume The Urban Community, a summary of the proceedings of the 1925 annual American Sociological Society meeting. Robert E. Park attributes the increased crime and vice in the city to the breaking down of local attachments and the displacement of the restraints of the primary group by secondary relationships. The mobility and

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