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  • Describe the process of urbanization in the United States and the growth of urban populations worldwide
  • Understand the function of suburbs, exurbs, and concentric zones
  • Discuss urbanization from various sociological perspectives

The New York City skyline at night is shown here.
The lights of New York City are an iconic image of city life. (Photo courtesy of Or Hiltch/flickr)

Urbanization is the study of the social, political, and economic relationships in cities, and someone specializing in urban sociology    studies those relationships. In some ways, cities can be microcosms of universal human behavior, while in others they provide a unique environment that yields its own brand of human behavior. There is no strict dividing line between rural and urban; rather, there is a continuum where one bleeds into the other. However, once a geographically concentrated population has reached approximately 100,000 people, it typically behaves like a city regardless of what its designation might be.

The growth of cities

According to sociologist Gideon Sjoberg (1965), there are three prerequisites for the development of a city: First, good environment with fresh water and a favorable climate; second, advanced technology, which will produce a food surplus to support nonfarmers; and third, strong social organization to ensure social stability and a stable economy. Most scholars agree that the first cities were developed somewhere in ancient Mesopotamia, though there are disagreements about exactly where. Most early cities were small by today’s standards, and the largest was most likely Rome, with about 650,000 inhabitants (Chandler and Fox 1974). The factors limiting the size of ancient cities included lack of adequate sewage control, limited food supply, and immigration restrictions. For example, serfs were tied to the land, and transportation was limited and inefficient. Today, the primary influence on cities’ growth is economic forces. Since the recent economic recession reduced housing prices, researchers have been waiting to see what happens to urban migration patterns in response.

A chart illustrating the growing percentage of the U.S. population living in urban areas in comparison to rural areas from 1800 (roughly 10 percent) to (roughly 75 percent).
As this chart illustrates, the shift from rural to urban living in the United States has been dramatic and continuous. (Graph courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau)

Urbanization in the united states

Urbanization in the United States proceeded rapidly during the Industrial Era. As more and more opportunities for work appeared in factories, workers left farms (and the rural communities that housed them) to move to the cities. From mill towns in Massachusetts to tenements in New York, the industrial era saw an influx of poor workers into U.S. cities. At various times throughout the country’s history, certain demographic groups, from post-Civil War southern Blacks to more recent immigrants, have made their way to urban centers to seek a better life in the city.

Managing refugees and asylum-seekers in the modern world

In 2013, the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide exceeded 50 million people for the first time since the end of World War II. Half these people were children. A refugee    is defined as an individual who has been forced to leave his or her country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster, while asylum-seekers    are those whose claim to refugee status has not been validated. An internally displaced person    , on the other hand, is neither a refugee nor an asylum-seeker. Displaced persons have fled their homes while remaining inside their country’s borders.

The war in Syria caused most of the 2013 increase, forcing 2.5 million people to seek refugee status while internally displacing an additional 6.5 million. Violence in Central African Republic and South Sudan also contributed a large number of people to the total (The United Nations Refugee Agency 2014).

The refugees need help in the form of food, water, shelter, and medical care, which has worldwide implications for nations contributing foreign aid, the nations hosting the refugees, and the non-government organizations (NGOs) working with individuals and groups on site (The United Nations Refugee Agency 2014). Where will this large moving population, including sick, elderly, children, and people with very few possessions and no long-term plan, go?

Questions & Answers

what is conflict management
Zeenat Reply
with the reference of international relations
Ismail
what is Conformity and what are reasons for it?
Emmanuel Reply
It's to comply with standard, rules etc. Fitting into society
Kerri
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Ismail
what is Conformity and what are reasons for it?
Emmanuel Reply
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COGF Reply
The study of social development and function. How society functions.
Kerri
the study of human being and how their interact
Muhammad
Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and chang
Icecool
It's Unveil of Miracle of Life
Tendai
study of Unveil
Tendai
sociology is the stud of how people live together and how their lives are structured by social institutions ,culture and history how does sociology impact your life?
chnor
what do you think c.wright Mills meant when he said that to be a sociologist one had to develop a sociological imagination?
Jamesnhialchan Reply
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Young Reply
Explain the importance of beliefs or a note of Beliefs.
Shuvhe Reply
whts importance M.sc sociology in foreign countries
Arham
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Kelley Reply
what is gender studies
Muhammad Reply
origin and development of sociology
Rakshita Reply
what's to join
Prisca
What is gender studies
Muhammad
it means either of the two sexes (Male /female)
Prisca
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Muhammad
thank u
Rakshita
gender studies is the study of the roles that men and women play in our society ...how those roles have been shaped..what factors have influenced them ...and their pros and cons etc
Babar
is sociology similar to political science
connect
hey guys iam a new member of this community can u tell me exactly what sociology is to be real I don't know anything about it iam interested to learn
connect
sociology is the study of social life...society, culture, social changes etc
Babar
the study of human behaviour and how interact with each other
Kimoya
what is Becker 1963
Karen Reply
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Poonam Reply
"Logy" means study n "social" is society.
Reemiya
Socius and logos
Silent
waah Raj
Rishit
Definition of sociology
Shashi Reply
sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.
Sunny
as the implies it is the study of both sex in the environment
Philip
sociology is is the study of human behavior
Muhammad
sociology is the science of society
Rehana
sociology is the human Behavior relationship studying
Young
sociology is the scientific study of human society and social relationship
Jane
sociology is the platform where social behaviour is analysed on every aspect of human behaviour from every aspect of human life .i.e there culture language social gatherings food habit and etc . every dimension of human society is key to analyse this subject without involving personal thought .
Kuleshwar
what is culture
Anuman Reply
To me what culture is what you grow up with in your family. What are some of the customs and ritual that you follow. Your parent maybe born in there country, while u are born in the United States. You can clash both cultures together or identity yourself more with one than the other.
Josephine
There are people who follow there culture like a book and there are people who don't follow there cultural as much.
Josephine
culture is what makes you more like your environ and imprison your thought process.
Noor
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AMINU Reply
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Kuma
What does it take to become a good sociologist
agustina
Be objective in your analysis of the Social world. Also you must cultivate the act of critical thinking. You must collaborate with colleagues, get involved in research and you must possess strong communication skills.
Enoch

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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