Powerpoint notes - University of Exeter

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Introduction to Social Analysis
Semester 2 Week 1,
Urbanism and Functionalism
An approach to theory
• We will examine theory and methods not as
abstract topics in themselves but as practical
tools for understanding the social world.
• We will focus on the questions sociologist ask
and ways they have endeavoured to answer
them. We will examine key ideas and their use in
models of empirical sociological research.
• You should endeavour to make links between
this section and the founding fathers and
sociological issues covered in Semester 1.
Course Outline
• For each lecture there is:
– a reading in the course pack. The selected reading is designed
as an introduction to the concepts and ideas used in the lecture.
– A set of studies which are used in the lecture to illustrate the way
that sociologists doing empirical studies have used the concepts
and theories discussed.
• Tutorials are to help you understand the ideas.
• The essay is intended to improve your skills.
– Write a book review. Use the knowledge you have gained about
sociological concepts and ideas to take a critical look at a
particular study. You have to work at identifying the ideas and
approached used in that book, and evaluate the study.
Why theory
• “Nothing so useful as a good theory”
• I will teach theory as a practical resource
for making sense of society not simply a
history of ideas, or ideas for their own
• In the lectures I will try to make explicit the
assumptions about society that motivate
and guide the studies under consideration.
• King Oliver 1923 and Riverside Blues
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_WbQY
What is distinctive about urban life?
• Sociology from its inception has been motivated
by historical concerns about loss of community
and disorganisation engendered by poverty,
migration and urban conditions.
• Why is community life in a city so problematic?
But to do something about it required
information and understanding i.e. theory and
data. How can we study urban life? How can we
find out how cities work?
• London’s East End and Chicago as historical
Fritz Lang Metropolis
Hogarth – Gin Lane 1751
Chicago school
• The first ever department of Sociology was set up in the University
of Chicago in 1892.
• Park, a former journalist founded the so-called Chicago school of
urban sociology. Their detailed studies of urban social processes in
the late 1920s and 1930s have, justifiably become famous as
models of diligent empirical research.
• Sociologists at the University of Chicago studied issues of urban life
and set about a systematic programme to understand the diversity
of ways of life in their city.
• Park looked at the morphology of cities and documented distinctive
residential patterns. He proposed research into neighbourhoods how could the immigrant and floating populations be re-assembled
as communities.
• He asked questions about industrial organisation and ‘the moral
order’. Did those in different jobs hold divergent values and
Park and Burgess The City
Cities develop in distinctive ways
Capitalist city based on property markets and free labour contrast to
the feudal city and the Imperial City.
Studies of Morphology of cities based on mapping
Concentric rings: the business area in the centre, the slum area
(called the zone in transition) around the central area, the zone of
workingmen’s homes farther out, the residential area beyond this
zone and then the commuter zone of the periphery.
Social and economic differentiation
Also the concept of succession used to described the fact these
concentric built up one after the other historically as the city groups
and are also invaded successively from the inside. “The zone of
transition” c.f. “the inner city”
Idea of ecology
Society compared to a biological system
Distribution of homes of Cook County
accused felons.
• H.W. Zorbaugh The Gold Coast and the
Slum 309.73 ZOR *
• Study of two contrasting zones next to
each other.
• How the study was done
• Characteristics of each zone
• Louis Wirth "Urbanism as a way of life" in
American Journal of Sociology 1938,
vol.44 No. 1, pages 1-24. Also reprinted in
R. Sennett 1969 Classic Essays on the
Culture of Cities. pages 143-179 301.364
Wirth’s Methodology.
• Deductive
• Starts from general characteristics and
works out the logical consequences.
• Not empirical. However it is suggestive of
what should be observed and
• This the Chicago School went on to do.
Wirth’s starting point
A number of sociological propositions
concerning the relationship between
• (a) size of population,
• (b) density of settlement,
• (c) heterogeneity of inhabitants
1.Size of the city’s population
Larger numbers involve greater diversity and
‘The personal traits, the occupations, the cultural
life, and the ideas of the members of an urban
community may, therefore, be expected to range
between more widely separated poles than
those of rural inhabitants.’
The variations give rise to the spatial segregation color, ethnic heritage, economic and social
status, tastes and preferences.
1.Size of the city’s population (cont.)
“The bonds of kinship, of neighborliness, and the
sentiments arising out of living together for generations
under a common folk tradition are likely to be absent or,
at best, relatively weak in an aggregate the members of
which have such diverse origins and backgrounds.”
Under such circumstances “competition and formal control
mechanisms furnish the substitutes for the bonds of
solidarity that are relied upon to hold a folk society
The pecuniary nexus which implies the purchasability of
services and things has displaced personal relations as
the basis of association.
When individuals cannot know one another intimately and
cannot be assembled in one spot, it becomes necessary
to communicate through indirect media and to articulate
individual interests by a process of delegation.
1.Size of the city’s population (cont.)
[in the] enlarged market, which in turn accentuates the division of labor characteristically, urbanities meet one another in highly segmental roles…
The contacts of the city may indeed be face to face, but they are
nevertheless impersonal, superficial, transitory, and segmental.
The multiplication of persons in a state of interaction under conditions which
make their contact as full personalities impossible
Individuality under these circumstances must be replaced by categories.
When large numbers have to make common use of facilities and institutions,
those facilities and institutions must serve the needs of the average person
rather than those of particular individuals. The services of the public
utilities, of the recreational, educational, and cultural institutions, must be
adjusted to mass requirements. Similarly, the cultural institutions, such as
the schools, the movies, the radio, and the newspapers, by virtue of their
mass clientele, must necessarily operate as levelling influences.
2. Density
The close living together and working together of
individuals who have no sentimental and
emotional ties foster a spirit of competition,
aggrandizement, and mutual exploitation.
Formal controls are instituted to counteract
irresponsibility and potential disorder.
Without rigid adherence to predictable routines a
large compact society would scarcely he able to
maintain itself. The clock and the traffic signal
are symbolic of the basis of our social order in
the urban world.
City life requires tight scheduling.
The social interaction among such a variety of personality
types in the urban milieu tends to break down the rigidity
of caste lines and to complicate the class structure; it
thus induces a more ramified and differentiated frame
work of social stratification than is found in more
integrated societies.
The heightened mobility of the individual, which brings him
within the range of stimulation by a great number of
diverse individuals and subjects him to fluctuating status
in the differentiated social groups that compose the
social structure of the city, brings him toward the
acceptance of instability and insecurity in the world at
large as a norm.
Wirth conclusions
• People in cities behave in different ways
than the country
• Instrumental
• Transitory relationships
• Blasé attitutudes
Urbanism and functionalism
• Why city life was as it was? System and function
• City / social life/ like an organism – different
parts play different functions
• Geography, transport, industry, commerce
• Institutions, class, religion, corporations,
• Behaviour as functional, blasé distant
fashionable as a way of coping with multiple
transient interactions.
Michael Young and Peter Willmott 1962 Family
and kinship in East London.
• Post war East End – how they did the
• Rediscovered community
• Role of housing and redevelopment
• Methods of achieving security in an urban
• Omissions – migrants, minorities.
• What function does an institution perform
for the wider society?
• Wilmot and Young’s classic study of
Bethnal Green takes an essentially
functionalist approach seeing working
class families as an adaptation to the
insecurities of urban life.
• Not necessarily the obvious or intended
Dick Hobbs [et al.] 2003 Bouncers : violence
and governance in the night-time economy.
• Redevelopment of Manchester
• Drink, sex and violence
• In whose interests is the city run, the
functionality of lawlessness.
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRer44
• http://www.kovideo.net/videos/o/Oasis/Lyla