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Urbanism as a way of life

In modern industrialized societies urbanism has become the predominant way of life. What
constitutes this particular mode of living? It is difficult to give a precise answer. According to
Some writers, urbanism indicates a wide acquaintance with things and people. Such acquaintance
imbues the city dwellers with the spirits of tolerance.
Thus, urbanism as a way of life, following Louis Wirth, is characteristics by extensive conflict
of norms and values, by rapid social change, by increased social differentiation, greater social
mobility, by higher levels of education and income, by emphasis on materials possessions and
individuals, by impersonality of relationships and decline in intimate communication and by
increase informal social contracts. This mean that “urbanism” is not synonymous with city. City
refers to an area distinguished principally by size, populations, density, and social diversity,
whereas urbanism refers to a complex of social relations.
i. Norms and social role conflicts. The diversity of social life is the most important
characteristics of urbanism. It springs from the size, density and heterogeneity of
population, extreme specialization of various occupations, and the class structure existing in
the larger community.
ii. Rapid social and cultural change. “Rapid social and cultural change, disregard for the
importance of stability of generations, and untempered loyalties also generally characterize
urban life.” The result is the decline in the importance of the elements which are
“traditional” or “sacred”.
iii. Impersonalness and lack of intimate communication. Being heterogeneous in
compositions and highly specialized, urbanities know each other only in superficial and
impersonal ways. A large proportion of urban social relations take place between nameless
strangers, and they last only for a limited period of time.
iv. Materialism. In an urban society external appearances and material possessions are of
primary importance. Urban dwellers are more often known for their status symbols.
v. Individualism. The urban dwellers in their social relations, give primary emphasis on their
own interests and personal happiness. As individualism increases, competition also
vi. Mobility. One of the distinctive features of urban life is greater mobility. The fact that most
urban social relations are impermanent means that, unless the urbanite becomes either a
recluse or an extreme interest he continuously makes new social contacts.
vii. Increase informal social controls. Whereas social control in a rural community is exercised
with a minimum of formality, social control in the urban society is more formal. The rural
community feels little need of formal secondary controls becomes family and kinship ties,
customs and mores are themselves effective as social pressures.