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Urban Sociology

City Housing & Cohousing
Maps Urban Research Centers
Rural Studies
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City, Urbanization, Architecture, Planning

Cities constitute one of the levels of aggregation, integration & reproduction at which social actors interact, represent themselves and are mutually interdependent. The city, as a unit of analysis, has always been caught between two opposing views. The first emphasizes diversity of experiences; fragmentation; strangeness; mosaics; contingent interactions; moving borders; events and happenings; fluid situations; processes of identity formation; and the volume of interactions and complexity. The second has a focus on integration, assimilation, social order, control and unity.

From the early days of urbanization sociologist have studied the city of industrial capitalism:

  • the material city of walls, squares, houses, roads, canals, light, utilities, buildings, waste, and physical infrastructure;
  • the cultural city in terms of imaginations, differences, representations, ideas, symbols, arts, texts, senses, religion, aesthetics;
  • the politics and policies of the city in terms of domination, power, government, mobilization, public policies, welfare, education;
  • the social city of riots, ethnic, economic or gender inequalities, segregation, everyday life and social movements;
  • the economy of the city, in terms of division of labour, scale, production, consumption and trade.
Urbanization is reaching a new peak in the contemporary world with the rise of mega cities with more than ten million inhabitant: Tokyo (36,0 million), Seoul (25,6 million), Shanghai (24,7 million), Guangzhou (23,9 million), Delhi (21,7), Mexico City (21,1 million) and Bijing (21,1 million). The city also has become a space that is both place-centered (embedded in particular locations) and trans-territorial (it connects sites that are not geographically proximate yet are intensely connected to each other through various local, regional, national, internatioal and global virtual networks). The material or physical city has grown together with the virtual city. The object of the sociology of the city has changed profoundly. Urban sociology needs to renew its place in providing different lenses upon the urban environment.

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“A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams.”
[Gilbert H. Grosvenor, founding editor of National Geographic magazine]






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Editor dr. Albert Benschop
Social & Behavioral Studies
University of Amsterdam
Created August, 1997
Last modified 06th October, 2015