Thursday, January 14, 2010





Assistant Professor
Department of Architecture and Planning
NED University of Engineering and Technology


The course of urban sociology developed for the students of urban engineering consists following ingredients.

Concepts and Terminology:
Urban and rural; family, household and clan; types and formats of social relationship; urban communities; space and its types (physical, social and economic); social infrastructure; sociology and development; social and psychological characteristics

Urban Communities:
Types and characteristics; communities in relation to built environment; issues related to urban communities; case studies

Issues in Urban sociology:
Population; urbanization; human values; culture, traditions and norms; distribution and utilization pattern of resources, gender and space; social justice

The course contents of urban sociology have three basic themes and twenty topics. The first theme is concepts and terminology. Before going into the details of these concepts and terminology at first let us discuss the subject itself or answer the question; “What is Urban Sociology?”

Urban sociology is the sociological study of social life and human interaction in metropolitan areas. It is a normative discipline of sociology seeking to study the structures, processes, changes and problems of an urban area and by doing so providing inputs for planning and policy making. Like most areas of sociology, urban sociologists use statistical analysis, observation, social theory, interviews, and other methods to study a range of topics, including migration and demographic trends, economics, poverty, race relations, economic trends, and etc.

After the industrial revolution, sociologists such as Max Weber, and particularly George Simmel in works such as The Metropolis and Mental life (1903), focused on the increasing process of urbanization and the effects it had on feelings of Social alienation and anonymity. The Chicago School is a major influence in the study of urban sociology. Many of their findings have been refined or rejected, but the lasting impact of the Chicago School can still be found in today's teachings.[1]

The subject of urban sociology at first developed in Europe and then in USA it flourished and many authors and schools contributed literature in this subject. Some of the important literature in this respect is given below:
  1. Jane Jacobs; “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (1961) New York: Random House ISBN 0-679-60047-7
  2. Robert E. Park, Ernest W. Burgess, Roderick D. MacKenzie, Morris Janowitz, "The City": 1925.
  3. Foundational text in American sociology, Chicago school, Urban sociology and Human ecology
    Molotch, Harvey and John Logan, "Urban Fortunes: Political Economy of Place", University of California Press: 1988.
The subject of urban sociology consists various terms and concepts which need to be understood by urban engineers. Some of these concepts and terminology is given hereunder.

URBAN means "related to cities".[2] AN URBAN AREA is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.
RURAL AREAS referred to as "the country sides" are large and isolated areas of a country, often with low population density.[3]
FAMILY denotes a group of people or animals (many species form the equivalent of a human family wherein the adults care for the young) affiliated by consanguinity, affinity or co-residence.[4]
The household is "the basic residential unit in which economic production, consumption, inheritance, child rearing, and shelter are organized and carried out"; [the household] "may or may not be synonymous with family".[6] The household is the basic unit of analysis in many social, microeconomic and government models. The term refers to all individuals who live in the same dwelling. In economics, a household is a person or a group of people living in the same residence.[7]

A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if actual lineage patterns are unknown, clan members may nonetheless recognize a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be merely symbolical in nature, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a symbol of the clan's unity. Clans can be most easily described as tribes or sub-groups of tribes. The word clan is derived from 'clann' meaning 'children'.

In social science, a social relation or social interaction refers to a relationship between two (i.e. a dyad), three (i.e. a triad) or more individuals (e.g. a social group). Social relations, derived from individual agency, form the basis of the social structure. To this extent social relations are always the basic object of analysis for social scientists.

Forms of relation and interaction in sociology and anthropology may be described as follows: first and most basic are animal-like behaviors, i.e. various physical movements of the body. Then there are actions - movements with a meaning and purpose. Then there are social behaviors, or social actions, which address (directly or indirectly) other people, which solicit a response from another agent. Next are social contacts, a pair of social actions, which form the beginning of social interactions. Social interactions in turn form the basis of social relations.

The term “Social”
[11] refers to a characteristic of living organisms and the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.

The term "Social" is also used for many different senses such as attitudes, orientations, or behaviours which take the interests, intentions, or needs of other people into account.
Sociology[12] is the study of human societies. Its traditional focuses have included social stratification (i.e. class relations), religion, secularization, modernity, culture and deviance. The phrase social characteristics may be interpreted in terms of social classes in a society.

Social Classes[13] are the hierarchical arrangements of people in society as economic or cultural groups.
''Social Characteristics''[14] are the characteristics of the type of person you are in society. For example:

Upper Class - lots of money, big house, high paying job, well off, can have lots of luxury’s, act posh etc.

Middle Class - reasonably fine with finance, can provide for your family, average job etc.

Lower Class - very little money, living in poor housing such as flats, unskilled manual workers, not got a very good life that’s just an example with the class spectrum; social characteristics can fit in with all social aspects of life.

THE SOCIAL CHARACTER;[15] is the central basic concept that describes the formation of the shared character structure of the people of a society or a social class according to their way of life and the socially typical expectations and functional requirements regarding socially adaptive behaviours. Social character is essentially adaptive to the dominant mode of production in a society. While individual character describes the richness of the character structure of an individual, the social character describes the emotional attitudes common to people in a social class or society. The social character is acquired substantially in the family as an agent of the society but also developed in other institutions of society such as schools and workplaces. The function of the social character is to motivate people to accomplish the expected social tasks concerning work and interaction, education and consuming.

URBAN COMMUNITIES[16]; is referred to as a residential community. It is a community, usually a small town or city, which is composed mostly of residents, as opposed to commercial businesses and/or industrial facilities, all three of which are considered to be the three main types of occupants of the typical community. Residential communities are typically communities that help support more commercial or industrial communities with consumers and workers; this phenomenon is probably because some people prefer not to live in an urban or industrial area, but rather a suburban or rural setting. For this reason, they are also called dormitory towns, bedroom communities, or commuter towns. An example of a residential community would include a small town or city located a number of miles outside of a larger city, or a large town or city located near a smaller, yet more commercially- or industrially-centered, town or city.

SPACE[17]; is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. It is a term that has various meanings and interpretations in different contexts.

PHYSICAL SPACE[18]; is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of the boundless four-dimensional continuum known as space time. In mathematics one examines 'spaces' with different numbers of dimensions and with different underlying structures. The concept of space is considered to be of fundamental importance to an understanding of the physical universe although disagreement continues between philosophers over whether it is itself an entity, a relationship between entities, or part of a conceptual framework.

PERSONAL SPACE[19]; is the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs. Invasion of personal space often leads to discomfort, anger, or anxiety on the part of the victim.

EXTRAPERSONAL SPACE[20]: The space that occurs outside the reach of an individual.

PERIPERSONAL SPACE[21]: The space within reach of any limb of an individual. Thus to be 'within-arm's length' is to be within one's peripersonal space.

PERICUTANEOUS SPACE[22]: The space just outside our bodies but which might be near to touching it. Visual-tactile perceptive fields overlap in processing this space so that, for example, an individual might see a feather as not touching their skin but still feel the inklings of being tickled when it hovers just above their hand.

SOCIAL SPACE[23]; is the combined use and perception of space by distinct social groups, as opposed to personal space. Social space provides an environmental framework for the behaviours of the group; it is culturally complex, flexible, multiply configured, networked, and reflexive.

A PUBLIC SPACE[24]; refers to an area or place that is open and accessible to all citizens, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic level. The earliest examples of public spaces are commons. For example, no fees or paid tickets are required for entry, nor are the entrants discriminated based on background. Non-government-owned malls are examples of 'private space' with the appearance of being 'public space'.

'SEMI-PUBLIC' SPACES[25]: A broader meaning of public space or place includes also places where everybody can come if they pay, like a café, train, movie theater etc. A shop is an example of what is intermediate between the two meanings: everybody can enter and look around without obligation to buy, but activities unrelated to the purpose of the shop are not unlimitedly permitted. The halls and streets (including skyways) in a shopping center may be declared a public place and may be open when the shops are closed. Similarly for halls, railway platforms and waiting rooms of public transport; sometimes a travelling ticket is required. A public library is a public place. A rest stop or truck stop is a public space. For these semi-public spaces stricter rules may apply than outside, e.g. regarding dress code, trading, begging, advertising, propaganda, riding roller-skates, skateboards, a Segway, etc.

ECONOMIC SPACE; is generally perceived as a space for economic activities which may well be understood in the concept of public and semi public spaces. The economic space may be referred to as the space where transaction takes place whether these are real or shadow transactions. In this way the concept of market also coincides with economic space. “A market is any one of a variety of different systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby person’s trade, and goods and services are exchanged, forming part of the economy.”[26] In order to further understand the phrase economic space the concept of urban economics and socioeconomics may also be understood.

URBAN ECONOMICS[27]; is broadly the economic study of urban areas. As such, it involves using the tools of economics to analyze urban issues such as crime, education, public transit, housing, and local government finance. More narrowly, it is a branch of microeconomics that studies urban spatial structure and the location of households and firms.

SOCIOECONOMICS OR SOCIO-ECONOMICS[28]; is the study of the relationship between economic activity and social life. The field is often considered multidisciplinary, using theories and methods from sociology, economics, history, psychology, and many others. It has emerged as a separate field of study in the late twentieth century. In many cases, however, socioeconomics focus on the social impact of some sort of economic change. Such changes might include a closing factory, market manipulation, the signing of international trade treaties, new natural gas regulation, etc. Such social effects can be wide-ranging in size, anywhere from local effects on a small community to changes to an entire society.

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE[29]; is a system of social services, networks and facilities that support people and communities. It includes housing, educational, recreational and law and order facilities that support the community's need for social interaction.

COMMUNITY/SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE[30]; are those community agencies/services/facilities and other social support measures in a community that are deemed to be necessary for the adequate functioning of that community, which contribute to its overall sustainability and the ultimate well-being of its residents. Whilst there are many components of such infrastructure, some of the community agencies that have a key role in providing information about or referrals to various other services in their communities are community - neighbourhood centers.

SOCIOLOGY[31]; is the study of human societies. It is a social science (with which it is informally synonymous) that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge and theory about human social activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and social structures.

DEVELOPMENT[32]; means an act of improving by expanding or enlarging or refining. Development, also mean evolution i.e. a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage especially a more advanced or mature stage. Development also denotes growth and exploitation i.e. the act of making some area of land or water more profitable or productive or useful.


Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes. Psychologists study such phenomena as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, motivation, personality, behaviour and interpersonal relationships. Psychological knowledge is applied to various spheres of human activity including the family, education, employment etc.

Community psychology deals with the relationships of the individual to communities and the wider society. Community psychologists seek to understand the quality of life of individuals, communities, and society.

Social psychology is the study of social behavior and mental processes, with an emphasis on how humans think about each other and how they relate to each other. Social psychologists are especially interested in how people react to social situations. They study such topics as the influence of others on an individual's behavior and the formation of beliefs, attitudes, and stereotypes about other people. Social psychology try to understand how people process, remember, and distort social information.

A Community is a group of interacting organisms sharing an environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. A group that is organized around common values and social cohesion within a shared geographical location the word can also refer to the national community or global community.
[34] Sense of community is a concept in Community psychology and social psychology, as well as in several other research disciplines, such as urban sociology, which focuses on the experience of community rather than its structure, formation, setting, or other features. Sociologists, social psychologists, and others have theorized about community, and ask questions about the individual's perception, understanding, attitudes, feelings, etc. about community and his or her relationship to it and to others' participation.[35] There are several types of communities exist both in the face-to-face world of neighborhoods, clubs and associations of human beings and the virtual world of Internet communities.[36]

The phrase built environment refers to the man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from personal shelter to neighborhoods to the large-scale civic surroundings. The term is widely used to describe the interdisciplinary field of study which addresses the design, construction, management and use of these man-made surroundings and their relationship to the human activities which take place within them over time. In architecture and environmental psychology, the phrase is very useful because majority of the urban environment already exists, and only small fraction of buildings constructed annually by architects, urban planners, traffic engineers, zoning authorities, interior designers, industrial designers, and urban engineers etc. In landscape architecture, the built environment is identified as man-made landscapes as opposed to the natural environment. In urban planning, the phrase connotes the idea that a large percentage of the human environment is manmade, and these artificial surroundings are so extensive and cohesive that they function as organisms in the consumption of resources, disposal of wastes, and facilitation of productive enterprise within its bounds.

A population is the collection of inter-breeding organisms of a particular species. In sociology, it is a collection of human beings. As of 16 January 2010, the world population is estimated by the United States Census Bureau to be 6.797 billion.
[38] Demography is the statistical study of all populations. It encompasses the study of the size, structure and distribution of populations, and spatial and/or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration, aging and death. Demographic analysis can be applied to whole societies or to groups defined by criteria such as education, nationality, religion and ethnicity. Population studies also analyze the relationships between economic, social, cultural and biological processes influencing a population. Demography is used extensively in marketing, which relates to economic units, such as retailers, to potential customers.[39]

Urbanization also spelled "urbanisation" is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. Urbanization is also defined by the United Nations as movement of people from rural to urban areas with population growth equating to urban migration. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008. Urbanization is closely linked to modernization, industrialization, and the sociological process of rationalization.

Human values are a set of emotional rules people follow to help make the right decisions in life. When values are used in a professional setting, they are called ethics. Values are used in every day decision making at work and at home. Good values instill a sense of integrity, honesty, and diligence in people. Without good values, people would become corrupt, dishonest, and undependable as people and employees. Companies want to hire employees with a sense of moral value so that they can help improve the company as a whole. Promoting values in every-day life and in the workplace can help promote career success. Values are an integral part of every culture. Along with beliefs and worldview assumptions, they generate behaviours. Being part of a culture that shares a common core set of values creates expectations and predictability without which a culture would disintegrate and its members would lose their personal identity and sense of worth. Values tell people what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, appropriate...etc. They answer the question of why people do what they do. Values help people solve common human problems for survival. Over time, they become the roots of traditions that groups of people find important in their day to day lives. Values can be positive or negative; some are destructive. To understand people of other cultures, we must come to understand the values, beliefs and assumptions that motivate their behaviour.

Culture in Latin means "to cultivate". It is a term that has different meanings. However, the word "culture" is most commonly used in three basic senses: Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture. An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning and the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group. When the concept first emerged in eighteenth century Europe, it connoted a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture. In the nineteenth century, it came to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals. In the mid-nineteenth century, some scientists used the term "culture" to refer to a universal human capacity. In the twentieth century, "culture" emerged as a concept central to anthropology, encompassing all human phenomena that are not purely results of human genetics. Specifically, the term "culture" in American anthropology had two meanings: (1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively; and (2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively. Following World War II, the term became important, albeit with different meanings, in other disciplines such as sociology, cultural studies, organizational psychology and management studies.

The word tradition comes from the Latin which means "handing over, passing on", and is used in a number of ways in the English language. For example; Beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally. It may be a set of customs or practices. A broad religious movement made up of religious denominations that have a common history, customs, culture, and, to some extent, body of teachings. However, on a more basic theoretical level, tradition(s) can be seen as information or composed of information which is brought into the present from the past, in a particular societal context. This is even more fundamental than particular acts or practices even if repeated over a long sequence of time.

The term norm may refer to various meaning in different contexts. For instance in academics it is perceived as a designated standard of average performance of people of a given age, background, etc. In sociology the term social norms, is used which means expected patterns of behaviour as studied in sociology.
[44] Social norms are the behavioural expectations and cues within a society or group. These are "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours which may be explicit or implicit. Failure to follow the rules can result in severe punishments, including exclusion from the group." The social norms indicate the established and approved ways of doing things, of dress, of speech and of appearance. These vary and evolve not only through time but also vary from one age group to another and between social classes and social groups. What is deemed to be acceptable dress, speech or behaviour in one social group may not be accepted in another. Deference to the social norms maintains one's acceptance and popularity within a particular group; ignoring the social norms risks one becoming unacceptable, unpopular or even an outcast from a group. Social norms tend to be tacitly established and maintained through body language and non-verbal communication between people in their normal social discourse. We soon come to know when and where it is appropriate to say certain things, to use certain words, to discuss certain topics or wear certain clothes, and when not to. Such knowledge about cultural norms is important for impression management, which is an individual's regulation of their nonverbal behaviour. We also come to know through experience what types of people we can and cannot discuss certain topics with or wear certain types of dress around. Mostly this knowledge is derived experientially.[45]

A resource is any physical or virtual entity of limited availability, or anything used to help one earn a living. As resources are very useful, we attach some information value to them. Resources help to produce goods so they have economic value. Natural resources like forests, mountains etc. are considered beautiful so they have aesthetic value. Gifts of nature such as water also have a legal value because it is our right to consume them. Resources have three main characteristics: utility, quantity (often in terms of availability), and use in producing other resources. However, this definition is not accepted by some, for example deep ecologists who believe that non-human elements are independent of human values. Resources are those things that can be physically combined to produce goods.

Gender is the wide set of characteristics that are seen to distinguish between male and female entities. In humans, it is understood as one's social role or gender identity. As a word, it has more than one valid definition. In linguistics, it refers to characteristics of words. In the social sciences, it refers specifically to social differences such as gender roles. The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, uses "gender" to refer to "the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women". While the idea of gender as a social construct is favoured in many social sciences, especially gender studies, in the hard sciences, research links biological and behavioural differences in males and females as determining factors for gender or "an individual's self-conception as being male or female". Gender identity is the gender a person self-identifies as. The concept of being a woman is considered to have more challenges, due to society not only viewing women as a social category but also as a felt sense of self, a culturally conditioned or constructed subjective identity. This usage has been viewed as controversial by feminists, in the definement of "woman".[47] The phrase gender and space is combined together due to space requirement of women in terms of physical, personal, social or psychological space.

Social justice is the application of the concept of justice at a social scale. The term "social justice" was coined in the 1840s. Social justice is also a concept that some use to describe the movement towards a socially just world. In this context, social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution, policies aimed toward achieving that which developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity and equality of outcome than may currently exist in some societies or are available to some classes in a given society. The popular theory about social justice describes its six major attributes or liberties that are necessary:
Freedom of thought;

  1. Liberty of conscience as it affects social relationships on the grounds of religion, philosophy, and morality;

  2. Political liberties (e.g. representative democratic institutions, freedom of speech and the press, and freedom of assembly);

  3. Freedom of association;

  4. Freedoms necessary for the liberty and integrity of the person (viz: freedom from slavery, freedom of movement and a reasonable degree of freedom to choose one's occupation); and

  5. Rights and liberties covered by the rule of law.
[1] (retrieved 11/01/2010)
[2] (retrieved 11/01/2010)
[3] (retrieved 11/01/2010)
[4] (retrieved 11/01/2010)
[5] (retrieved 11/01/2010)
[6] Haviland, W.A. (2003) Anthropology Wadsworth: Belmont, CA
[7] Sullivan, arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 29 ISBN 0-13-063085-3
[8] (retrieved 11/01/2010)
[9] (retrieved 11/01/2010)
[10] Ibid
[11] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[12] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[13] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[14] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[15] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[16] (retrieved January 16, 2010)[17] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[18] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[19] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[20] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[21] Ibid
[22] Ibid
[23] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[24] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[25] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[26] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[27] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[28] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[29] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[30] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[31] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[32] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[33] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[34] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[35] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[36] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[37] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[38] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[39] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[40] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[41] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[42] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[43] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[44] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[45] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[46] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[47] (retrieved January 16, 2010)
[48] (retrieved January 16, 2010)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010





Assistant Professor

Department of Architecture and Planning

NED University of Engineering and Technology




01. Concepts and Terminology:

1.1. Urban and rural;

1.2. Family, household and clan;

1.3. Types and formats of social relationship;

1.4. Urban communities;

1.5. Space and its types (physical, social and economic);

1.6. Social infrastructure;

1.7. Sociology and development;

1.8. Social and psychological characteristics

02. Urban Communities:

2.1. Types and characteristics;

2.2. Communities in relation to built environment;

2.3. Issues related to urban communities;

2.4. Case studies

03. Issues in Urban sociology:

3.1. Population;

3.2. Urbanization;

3.3. Human values;

3.4. Culture,

3.5. Traditions and norms;

3.6. Distribution and utilization pattern of resources

3.7. Gender and space;

3.8. Social justice