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Chapter 3

Sociology - 2152 - Chapter 3.docx

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Sociology 2152A/B
William Marshall

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Chapter 3: Analyzing and Interpreting the City: Theory and Method 1 8 ‘recurrent threads and themes’ around which Urban Sociology revolves around 1) What it feels like to live in a modern city and whether there is any universal ‘urban’ experience; 2) Whether, by, contrast, places are distinctive and why people become attached to them; 3) How urban life is affected by thee features of local social structure such as class, gender, and ethnicity; 4) How informal bonds develop and to what extent affective (emotionally charged) relationships with family, neighbours and friends are determined externally; 5) How to explain the history of urbanization and population concentration 6) The basic features of the spatial structures of cities and whether different spatial arrangements generate distinctive modes of social interaction; 7) The nature of an solutions to ‘urban’ problems such as congestion, poverty, and street violence 8) How urban politics are conducted, what influences political participation, and what impact the state has on the daily life of its local citizens  A culturalist vs. a structural orientation; a spatial vs. an associational emphasis; a realist versus a constructionists interpretation  Flanagan distinguishes between two distinct urban sociologies o Culturalist orientation deals with the experiential aspect of cities, addressing how urban life feels, how people react to living in an urban setting and how the city organizes personal lives o Structuralist orientation, holds that the ultimate cause of urban ways of thinking and acting are found externally in wider patterns of power and wealth in society  Merrifield identified two different and conflicting features of the contemporary urban world o The sterile, profit-dominated exchange values embedded in globalized, capitalist economies that can wreak havoc on urban life (‘urbanization’) and the more socially rich, locally determined use (livability) values that urban life can potential represent for human beings (‘urbanism’)  Second division among urban sociologists has revolved around the importance that should be accorded physical (Geographical) space in explaining patterns of behaviour o After 1970s, emphasized alternative, non-spatial forms of community, noting that the great majority of city dwellers are far form isolated from one another, rather, they are enmeshed in non-spatialized networks of family and friends  Third revolves around the degrees of realism embedded in urban phenomena o Power to shape the physical and social space o Do city dwellers have any degree of agency or power to shape the physical and social space in which they reside and work, or is it rigidly predetermined by ecological or economic factors beyond their immediate control? o Lives dictated by wealth, class and power or do people possess the capacity to inscribe meaning on their thoughts and actions?  Urban researchers are increasingly embracing a ‘social constructionist’ interpretation that depicts urban life as an ongoing negotiation of cultural meaning involving different individuals, groups and organizations, each striving to make its own interpretations hegemonic (dominant)  Since its emergence as a distinct subdiscipline in the 1920s and 1930s, the sociological study of the city has been punctuated by 5 identifiable approaches: human ecological; community studies; social interactionist; political economic and social constructionist  Human ecological, political economic approach the status of full theoretical paradigms  Social interactionist more closely resemble methodological strategies equipped with some basic underlying theoretical assumptions The Beginnings of Sociological Interpretations of Cities: The Chicago School  Robert Parker wrote the city, a pioneering attempt to outline a scientific program for understanding the essence of the industrial city both conceptually and empirically o Advocated an agenda that favoured ‘sharp, researchable questions about institutions and processes that could be immediately observed and investigated o Came up with ‚Chicago School of Urban Sociology‛  Chicago School studies ma be divided into two distinct categories, reflecting the two ‘nested themes’ in Park’s thinking describing how the spatial features of the urban environment centrally influence its organization and experience o First, park was interested in the evolving physical form the city – its different types of land uses and the manner in which its various populations, services and industries arrange themselves over space o Inspired human ecology o Second, Park believed that the city was composed of a constellation of different social worlds or natural areas, each with its own distinct language, traditions, and way of life o Nurtured a way of studying local neighbourhoods and sub-communities that has come to be called urban ethnography  Investigated in this manner were gangs, homeless men, and taxi dance halls  Taxi Dance Halls  The taxi-dance hall catered to various male clients who were considered marginal to more mainstream gendered relationships: those who suffered from physical disabilities and members of ethnic minority groups who faced facial discrimination, such as Filipinos Chapter 3: Analyzing and Interpreting the City: Theory and Method 3  To early sociologists, the main story was the shift from a traditional rural way o life to a modern, industrial social order  Gemeinshaft (Ferdinand Tonnies) or mechanical solidarity (Emile Durkeim), social life was characterized by an emphasis on kinship, village togetherness, and minimum of diversity in language, work roles, and culture o People obeyed the rules of social life because they would be shunned by community o Starting in 19 th century, the populations of Europe and North America began to shift from the small town and rural village to the burgeoning metropolis  Life in this Gesellschaft, or organic solidarity type, was demonstrably different o The social cement formerly provided by church, family, work, and neighbourhood seemed to be crumbling o City dwellers put individual interest ahead of the collective good o Money is the central arbiter of all relationships o Social order is maintained by laws, (formal system of regulations, police, courts and jails) instead of normative means o Dependency was purely functional and based on a complex division of labour o Residents of city performed specialized jobs (vs growing food, fixing machinery)  First-generation urban sociologists were generally pessimistic about the impact of the rural-urban shift on individuals and communities o Blamed the city disruptions caused by the immigration and resettlement process, they blamed the transition from rural village to big-city environment o Harvey Zorbaugh spotlighted the lack of community in a rooming-house area on the near-north side of Chicago, which he characterized as ‘a world of political indifference, of laxity of conventional standards, of person and social disorganization’  Concluded that there were no connecting tissue strong enough to hold together the difference subpopulations within the city  Community was fractured by differences in social position, rising rates of geographic mobility, and peoples preoccupation with their work lives and careers  Restatement of Georg Simmel’s seminal essay ‚the Metropolis and Mental Life‛ o Louis Wirth  Increasing size and population density characteristic of urban growth crucially affect the city’s pattern of social organization, notably in terms of leading to a higher degree of heterogeneity (diversity) both in occupational roles and in social worlds.  (Similar to Simmel) – Wirth asserts that this leads to a preponderance of social contacts that are impersonal, superficial, transitory, and segmental (do not go beyond the context of the encounter)  Increasing heterogeneity of urban life can allow greater social mobility, making it possible for those at the lower levels of the social ladder to escape the social class associated with their birth  More diverse and tolerant environment of the city is a boon for artists, musicians (creative types) free to experiment without censured by those in control Five Theoretical Models 1. Human Ecology Model  Wirth o Numerous studies of urban land use, housing and the incidence of poverty disease, and crime employed ‘methods’ which subsequently have been called ecological long before human ecology was recognized as a distinctive field of scientific activity  Charles Booth o Classified the urban population of that city into 7 categories and mapped up street by street, the occupations of the residents, the housing conditions in which they dwelt, the problems of poverty  Park treated human ecology as a loose collection of concepts (competition, invasion, succession, symbiosis) borrowed from plant and animal biology and applied to humans o Conceptualized human ecology as the breakdown of the city into separate communities bounded by transportation or other barriers within which distinct cultures developed o Order and balance result from continual process of competition, symbolic interdependency, and adaptation  Human ecologists say, the city reflects the ‘subculture’ competition for space and resources o In human societies the equivalent to competition and dominance in nature is economic competition in the market place (Adam Smith)  ‘Concentric Zone’ model of Urban Growth by Park o The shape of the metropolis was directed by rapid commercial growth in the centre core o Land becomes scarcer and more expensive in the central business district (CBD), o ‘ Zone in Transition’ - Marginal uses such as warehousing and light manufacturing established themselves in the surrounding. Chapter 3: Analyzing and Interpreting the City: Theory and Method 5  Illegal activities such as prostitution that need to be fairly close to tourist and other clienteles in the city core  Immigrant slums and skid rows were also located there o This forced higher-rent residential land uses outward towards the periphery of the city where they were no longer in direct competition with industrial or commercial users  McKenzie o Four ecological processes: o Specialization and the segregation of dissimilar populations and land uses; the centralization of popular and specialized services and activities; population concentration as the result of concentrated patters of commercial and industrial growth; and invasion and succession – the processes whereby one segment of the urban population makes an incursion into the territory of another and eventually replaces it  Criticism: o Alihan dismissed their emphasis on the sub-social, ecological forces as wrong-headed  The dominant influences on the city, were social and cultural o Form said that land values were not determined by impersonal, automatic mechanisms, but were linked to political processes such as zoning and urban renewal o Hatt disputed the assumption that natural areas could be immediately identified in Chicago and other industrial cities  Regard these natural areas as a deliberately ‘constructed’ from census tract data by the urban researcher o Orthodox human ecology another ideological tone o By accepting that the city was an outg
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