SP – Chapter 2
Technologies are central to city life (eg. subways, rapid transit, elevators) as opposed to rural life
Why? Because, technologies were developed to deal with large populations
population, built environments and natural environment, technology are interconnected and are important
in people‟s lives
Founder of demography = key term in textbook
Claim: Earth would eventually become overpopulated
Why? Population increases exponentially while technological improvements to agriculture improve
Result: Human society is in danger of losing equilibrium through the lack of food while will result in
famine, wars, diseases
Solutions: Malthus proposed to types of checks that could be used to prevent the loss of equilibrium
o Prevent overpopulation by increasing the death rate
o Prevent overpopulation by limiting the number of births (eg. abortion, infanticide,
Redistribution of Wealth: Malthus thinks this is a stupid idea!!! The poor will only procreate more
heavily and will ignore the laws of nature
Malthus‟ theory is rooted in “Carrying Capacity” = a notion that the number of people who can be
supported by the available resources at a given level of technology
Modern application of Malthusian theory:
Growth in agricultural production was fueled in part by expanding irrigation. However, expansion of
irrigated area has since slowed significantly as land and water availability has declined, showing almost
no growth in the past decade.
Some ecologists say: human pop will have to drop to 1/3 of its current pop (1-2 billion) by 2100 in order
to sustain relative prosperity
Critical Theory Approach to Malthus:
Deny equilibrium is attainable
Famines have plagued the underdeveloped parts of the world which are not a result of overpopulation,
rather an improper land use,stivil war, and political factors (eg. protectionist tariffs established by more
developed countries, many 1 world countries pay their farmers to not grow crops to keep market prices
for food stable yet effectively causing shortages elsewhere)
Famines and plagues are not positive checks of overpopulation, rather they are results of uneven
economic development world-wide
Key Problem in developing countries: Overpopulation is not the problem, rather it is a shortage of
capital for industrialization and a lack of markets for their agricultural products. A rapidly growing
population merely compounds the problems of poverty, dependency, plague and famine.
Solution for rapidly growing populations: Malthus advocated for the (ZPG) zero population growth.
Births are balanced by deaths.
Ways at Looking at Urban Life: Functionalist Perspective:
Crime, addiction and mental illness are inevitable consequences of urbanization. They don‟t contribute to
the quality of life. Rather, they illustrate the functional problem of finding a new social equilibrium in the
context of rapid social change. This problem is = anomie (concept of Robert Merton)
Rural environments typically shared same experiences and developed similar values = common
Rural communities were connected in a tight, homogeneous social order = mechanical solidarity
Urban society is based on = interdependence and linked together by organic solidarity (members of this
society were no longer self-sufficient)
In general, functionalist look for universal laws of social development help society move to a new
equilibrium, with a higher level of functioning.
Urban problems are related to capitalism = economic inequality
No powerful group is interested in preventing these problems from occurring
Segregation also signifies a satisfaction with the prevailing degree of economic inequality
George Simmel argues: cities are so inherently stimulating and quick-paced that to prevent sensory
overload, inhabitants need to reduce their sensitivity to events and people around them.
Herbert Gans argues: city life varies among groups and subcultures.
Subculture is a group of people who share some cultural traits of the larger society but who, as a group,
also have their own distinctive values, beliefs, norms, style of dress and behaviour. (eg. ethnic
Ways of Looking at the Environment:
Not surprised by modern people‟s activities that have contributed to the degradation of our environment
Cornucopia View of Nature: the belief that nature is a storehouse of resources that exists only for the use
Growth Ethic: linked with materialism, celebrates the (imagined) ability of technology to easily solve all
the problems in the world, including those that technology has caused. It assumes that things will always
get better and therefore encourages us to discard just about everything in favour of the production and
consumption of new items.
Individualism: privileges personal goals and desires over collective interests, is the driving force behind
the so-called “tragedy of the commons,” term coined by Garret Hardin.
Tragedy of the commons: actions of self-interested individuals that, together delete a shared limited
resource, even though none intended to have this effect.
Environmental problems affect the poor more often and more severely than they do the rich.
90:75 ratio: 90% of deaths arise from environmental disasters in developing countries while 75% of the
economic damage arises from environmental disasters in developed countries
Core idea: People‟s perception of problems
Eg. Companies react to the public‟s increasingly greater awareness over their impact on the environment
by using the strategy of “greenwashing” = redesigning and repackaging their products as environmentally friendly or green, playing into the consumer‟s wish to help solve the environmental
Ecofeminism: Convergence between women and nature.
Their strategy: Adopt a „feminine‟ way of engaging with the environmental social problems that is said to
be nurturing, co-operative and communal.
Central Argument: Domination over women, leading to gender inequality, is analogous to domination
over nature that leads to environmental destruction.
Classic Studies: The Limits to Growth: (Same logic and conclusion as Malthus)
The goal: track how complex human systems have changed and will change, over time
Method: test trends of 5 global concerns: accelerating industrialization, rapid population growth,
widespread malnutrition, depletion of non-renewable resources, and a deteriorating environment
All 5 increase exponentially while the capability of technology increases linearly
1.If the 5 global concerns continue to grow at the current rate, humanity will reach the limit to
growth in 100 years
2. It is still possible to change these current growth patterns. Slowing growth to achieve and
sustain equilibrium. However, equilibrium will be impossible to maintain at North American
Overall: His message was ignored, especially by the wealthy Westerners
In 2004 = updated prediction = we cannot prevent damage to humanity. The best option = „harm
Puts pressures on environment yet permits more change for innovation.
Need systemic production of food.
Don’t require large populations. Population quality over population quantity is most important.
Increasingly, social roles are distinguished by, not just sex and age, but by skill, aptitudes and
Majority Male = frontier town (mining, factory town) with many young men who behave in
Split population by sex: settled family community that includes children and old people. Disorder
is less of a problem.
Majority Young population = greater education expense
Majority elderly population = greater healthcare expense
Human Capital: PRO
Societies with higher level of human capital = higher productivity and increased