JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY
URBANISM AS A WAY
ABSTRACTThe urbanization of the world, which is one of the most impressive facts of moderntimes, has wrought profound changes in virtually every phase of social life. The recencyand rapidity of urbanization in the United States accounts for the acuteness of oururban problems and our lack of awareness of them. Despite the dominance of urbanismin the modern world we still lack a sociological definition of the city which would takeadequate account of the fact that while the city is the characteristic locus of urbanism,the urban mode of life is not confined to cities. For sociological purposes a city is arelatively large, dense, and permanent settlement of heterogeneous individuals. Largenumbers account for individual variability, the relative absence of intimate personalacquaintanceship, the segmentalization of human relations which are largely anony-mous, superficial, and transitory, and associated characteristics. Density involves di-versification and specialization, the coincidence of close physical contact and distantsocial relations, glaring contrasts,
complex pattern of segregation, the predominanceof formal social control, and accentuated friction, among other phenomena. Hetero-geneity tends to break down rigid social structures and to produce increased mobility,instability, and insecurity, and the affiliation of the individuals with a variety of inter-secting and tangential social groups with a high rate of membership turnover. Thepecuniary nexus tends to displace personal relations, and institutions tend to cater tomass rather than to individual requirements. The individual thus becomes effectiveonly as he acts through organized groups. The complicated phenomena of urbanismmay acquire unity and coherence if the sociological analysis proceeds in the light ofsuch a body of theory. The empirical evidence concerning the ecology, the socialorganization, and the social psychology of the urban mode of life confirms the fruit-fulness of this approach.
Just as the beginning of Western civilization is marked by thepermanent settlement of formerly nomadic peoples in the Mediter-ranean basin, so the beginning of what is distinctively modern inour civilization is best signalized by the growth of great cities.Nowhere has mankind been farther removed from organic nature