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Sociology 3321F/G

Urbanization • A metropolitan area or metropolis is a densely populated core area, together with adjacent communities. The largest city in each metropolitan areas is designated as the “central city.” Current standards require that each newly qualifying metropolitan area must include at least one city or urban area with at least 50,000 residents and a total metropolitan population of at least 100,000. • As of June 1998, there were 256 metropolitan areas in the United States; one U.S. state, New Jersey, is entirely occupied by metropolitan areas. • The United States is an urban nation, with four out of five Americans living in metropolitan areas. Within these metropolitan areas, there has been a dramatic population shift from the cities to the suburbs. Those who move to the suburbs are predominantly upper middle class, middle class, and to a lesser extent working class whites. • Urban sprawl refers to the low-density, automobile dependent development outside the central city. Urban sprawl absorbs farmland at a rate of about 50 acres an hour in the U.S., an area the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island every 10 years. Consequences of Urban Sprawl: 1) Environmental Effects – include the disruption of wildlife habitats, the altering of rivers and streams, and pollution. 2) Racial and Class Segregation – concentrated areas of poor housing and squalor in heavily populated urban areas are called slums. A slum section of a city occupied primarily by a minority group is referred to as a ghetto. U.S. minorities, who are disproportionately represented among the poor, tend to be segregated in concentrated areas of low-income housing. The fact that minorities so not have the resources to move out of inner-city neighborhoods results in involuntary segregation—whites move out, leaving nonwhites behind. 3) Declining Quality of Urban Life – as a result of the loss of tax revenue, the quality of housing, education, health care, and other social institutions declines. Strategies for Action: Saving Our Cities • A number of strategies have been proposed and implemented to restore prosperity to U.S. cities and well-being to their residents, businesses, and workers, including strategies to attract new businesses, create jobs, and repopulate cities. 1) The Empowerment zone/Enterprise community program (EZ/EC) provides tax incentives and performance grants and loans to create jobs for residents living within the designated zone or community. These empowerment zones stimulate the local economy, provide jobs for the unemployed, and increase city revenues. They also provide funds for job training, child care, and transportation to enable impoverished adults to work. 2) Community-based urban renewal efforts are grassroots programs which involve small-scale developers and volunteers working with a small professional staff who are concerned with improving the community. For example, 26,000 volunteers spent a Saturday cleaning Detroit streets, parks, and playgrounds during the fourth annual spring Clean Sweep campaign. In Detroit’s annual Paint the Town event, individuals, community organizations, and corporate volunteers fix and paint the homes of the poor and elderly. 3) Gentrification and incumbent upgrading improve decaying neighborhoods, which attracts residents as well as businesses. Gentrification is a type of neighborhood revitalization in which middle- and upper-
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