Social Structure and Mobility in Economic Development

By Neil J. Smelser; Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview

8
RURAL-URBAN BALANCE AND MODELS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT *

GIDEON SJOBERG, University of Texas

RELATIONS BETWEEN the urban and rural sectors lie at the core of many of the ideological, economic, and political dilemmas that beset nations currently striving to build an industrial-urban order. In this context rural-urban patterning emerges again as a significant area of sociological inquiry at the very time it has lost favor among researchers living in advanced industrial orders where traditional rural-urban differences have largely disappeared.

This essay is divided into two parts: In the first, or background section, I address myself to the more narrowly "demographic" aspects of rural-urban relations, notably the nature and extent of rural-to-urban migration in underdeveloped countries and the consequent growth of metropolitan centers in these societies. In the second part I shall put this rural-to-urban movement in broader perspective by examining the question implicit in the title of this paper: What is the optimum balance between the rural and urban sectors during the course of economic development? The answer to this, I believe, has manifold implications for the study of both individual and group mobility in any modernizing society.

To examine the matter of optimum balance between the rural and urban sectors, one must necessarily study rural and urban communities as sub-systems in a larger socio-cultural context. What is viewed as optimum balance between these two sectors is a function of the ideological, economic, and political orientations toward rural-urban relations in the society involved.

____________________
*
I am indebted to Leo F. Schnore for his detailed criticisms of an earlier version of this paper. I have incorporated a number of his suggestions, particularly with respect to the typology of change in rural-urban ratios.

-235-

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