Urban Sociology

Q2. In urban sociology, we study human society in urban settings. What do we mean by the word urban? And to what extent does the urban setting shape the social life which occurs within it?


Urban sociology is the study of social life in urban areas which can be defined as that which is characterized by high population density. Urban areas are characterized by high population levels which are caused by rural urban migration, according to Ferdinand Tonnies he contrasted two types of human social life and considered to types of settlement which are Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. [1]

Gemeinschaft type of settlement was characterized by people in rural areas, members use a common language, have common norms and rules and the sense of belonging to the community, on the other hand Gesellschaft type of settlement is characterized by urban life, this type of settlement is characterized by individualism, rationality and disunity. [2]

Emile Durkheim differentiated rural and urban life with reference to social solidarity, social solidarity is the bond that exist between individuals in a community, in rural life there exist mechanical solidarity where social bonds depend on common norms, beliefs and rituals, urban areas are characterized by organic solidarity, the urban life is characterized by complex division of labor, specialization, alienation and disagreements. [3]

Urban Sociology

How Urban Setting Shape The Social Life

Urban areas are characterized by a high population density with people from different cultures and therefore different norms, values and beliefs, the different cultures however intermarry to form a new form of social life where new beliefs and values are formed, this changes the people’s way of life in urban areas.

People living in urban areas experience social transformation where people become detached from tradition ways of life, people become alienated and also people lack a moral core which make them vulnerable to manipulative forces, people become alienated in the sense that they live in a state of false consciousness due to the fact that they accept the capitalist form of society as a way in which life should be and therefore this increases the level of social inequality and alienation. [4]

The emergence of capitalism in urban areas as the dominating factor makes these areas to have high levels of social inequality where there are people who are marginalized and live in ghettos while others live in high class settlement areas, therefore people in urban areas experience high levels of social inequality where there exist low income groups, middle income groups and high income groups, this inequality leads to increased competition which leads to increased social conflicts. [5]

High standards of living can be associated with urban life where people live luxuriously as compared to other areas, the availability of various products and also the high purchasing power which is as a result of diverse opportunities of work in the urban areas of urban dwellers make it possible for them to buy luxuries.

Urban Sociology

Despite high levels of competition the city provides opportunities for social mobility especially in capitalist form of society, social mobility ensures that people can move from one income class to another through education, promotion or economic power, however social mobility that exist in the urban areas will lead to more conflicts among individuals who have different interest.

The high population size in the urban area creates an increase in differentiation among the urban dwellers, people are no longer attached to traditional norms, values and beliefs and this makes them to become immoral, this therefore creates a need for formal control mechanism, this has therefore led to the emergence of legal systems and the police. People in the urban areas therefore become immoral and engage in activities that they would have not engaged in if they were attached to traditional norms and values.

The urban areas are prone to increased insecurity due to increased crime rates, the urban areas have become insecure due to high levels of crime, the people therefore have formed institutions that aid in provision of security such as security organizations as a solution o the increased levels of crime, however this is a social problem that is caused by increased social inequality in the urban areas.

Congestion causes increased demand for social amenities such as hospitals and schools, also in urban areas there is increased pollution and environmental degradation which has rendered urban dwellers to be prone to diseases such as cancer and borne diseases, this has increased the level of income spent as hospital bills and health care.


Despite the high levels of standards of living in the urban areas where people live in luxuriously there are various negative changes that develop in these areas, these include alienation, increased social inequality, increased crime rates, increased health hazards and the lack of a

Urban Sociology

moral core. However there exist high possibilities of social mobility in urban areas due to more opportunities available in these areas.

Urban areas however act as areas of both economic and political centers, they serve different purposes and therefore they are all important in our society, the problems associated with them however should be socially addressed because they affect the people’s way of life in the urban areas.


Adam Bert and Sadie R (2002) Contemporary Sociological Theory, Pine Forge Publishers, US

Ernest W. and Robert D (1967) the Growth of the City in the City, University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Michael D. and Steven F. (1998) Post-modern Urbanism, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 88 (1)

Randal Collins (1983) Sociological Theory, Jossey-Bass publishers, US

Urban Sociology

Waldinger and Bororgmehr (1996) The Making of a Multi cultural Metropolis, Sage publishers, L os Angeles

[1] Sadie R (2002)

[2] Sadie R (2002)

[3] Sadie R (2002)

[4] Robert D (1967)

[5] Robert D (1967)