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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 population studies?
onoja Reply
What are the subjective reality of mass communications
isah Reply
preconditions that give rise to deviance behavior
James Reply
what do you mean by "power to constraint"?
Chisom Reply
can someone please elaborate the main elements of ethnicity.
Tinya
What is social thought? And the difference between social thought and sociological thought
onoja Reply
Please some one should explain this theories for me.. Functionalism,, conflict theory and symbolic interaction
onoja Reply
functionalism: interrelated parts designed to meet the biological and social needs of the individuals in that Society
Lisa
conflict Theory: the way inequalities contribute to social differences and perpetuate difference in power
Lisa
Symbolic: one to one interactions and communications
Lisa
Can this theories be criticise?
onoja
How can I have access to rural sociology lecture notes?
KIEH Reply
what is Karl max.
ALIYU Reply
karl Marx is a economist and he worked in sociology he proposed theory of communism
Zakir
communism said that Every member of society acquired equal rights means equal basic needs of life ...he said capitalism gain all the profits and worker remain in same situation they can't effort even his three times meals in a day
Zakir
What are the main tasks of Sociologist
Adamson Reply
Does a full Moon really trigger strange beh
Abubakar Reply
please does anyone doing Anthropology here. I need help on the notes
Pascal Reply
my course is a combination of sociology and anthropology. please I need some notes
Pascal
Actually am doing sociology
Abubakar
mmm ok I have a friend of mine who is offering Anthropology perhaps I will talk to him about the notes
Abubakar
where from u
BILAL
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yuusuf
Any body define Global implications nd technology
BILAL
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Elias
what are the differences and similarities between August Comte and Herbert Spencer theories? pls I need some response on that.
Elias
Hyy
BILAL
what are the advantages and disadvantages of multi​ culture
fazil Reply
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Pascal
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roamers
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Pascal
morning
ram
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shoaib
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Pascal
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fazil
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Pascal
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fazil
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fazil
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fazil
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fazil
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yuusuf
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yuusuf
trying to answer the advantage and disadvantage of multiculruralism. 1. The advantage is multethnic countries are home to majority of migrants a signifacant population of it being a highly educated skilled of workforces aroun the world.
yuusuf
2. Disadvantage may couse risk of social conflict occurs due to differences in relegios, beliefs, and practoces though ethnic retuals or certain weys of life that may couse rift between two or more groups.
yuusuf
more result plz References (Opinionfront.com)
yuusuf
How would you classify crimes like child abuse, human trafficking and domestic violence?
Omego Reply
I would say that these are very serious crimes especially because they hinge on the rights of human beings, therefore they would be classified as felonies. Felonies;are the most serious of crimes that one can commit.  
Douglas
what are the factors responsible for drug addiction using the theories of deviance
Cora Reply
parents are the first responsible for drugs addiction in our society today
Yakubu
what are the unique features of rural areas?
Gidion Reply

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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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