Start Encyclopedia69 Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
dictionary -  encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   



Urban Anthropology

  Urban (from Latin urbs, ‘city’) anthropology emerged as a sub-discipline during the 1960s in order to concentrate on issues to do with people living in or moving to urban environments. There were two factors that led to the formation of urban anthropology. One concerned the need to shake off the myth, both in popular and anthropological imagination, that anthropology is solely about the study of small, isolated and ‘primitive’ communities. The other focused on the need to consider people everywhere, particularly when the transition from rural to urban forms of society (urbanization) was becoming a widespread global phenomenon.

The Chicago school of urban anthropology took the lead in considering rural and urban forms of society. In 1956, its most prominent theorist, Robert Redfield, developed the theoretical construct of a folk-urban continuum from his studies of Mexican communities. This was intended to account for the differences between folk society and urban society. A folk society was ideally small in size, isolated, homogeneous, preliterate and one in which kinship ties and sacred beliefs organized social and cultural life. Urban society was considered to involve the opposite of all these features. Redfield believed that any community could be placed along this continuum from folk to urban depending on the kinds of characteristics it had. Implicit within this scale was the idea that simpler or folk forms of society would evolve to complex social forms with time.

Later anthropologists held that Redfield\'s idea of folk and urban societies did not correspond to any actual community. They also pointed out that it was more useful to consider the way folk and urban societies are part of a larger social, political and economic environment, rather than considered as separate poles on a continuum. Debate has also focused on what is meant by the term ‘urban’ or its synonym, city. Whether it should be a reference to population sizes and densities, an industrial or market-based economy, or ideas about social complexities, little consensus has been reached in defining the terms for considering societies worldwide. It has been noted that Western ideas about the city as a major commercial centre are not applicable to all types of cities. Some cities are considered primarily as the loci for government and religion. Cosmological ideas attached to the geographical space of a city may also mark it off as an important place. City planning internally may show divisions that one normally associates with rural places. For instance, in several Indian cities, spatial segregation of caste groups and other traditions usually associated with rural societies continue to be found.

Recent trends in urban anthropology have looked at migration patterns to urban centres, the social and cultural dimensions of communities within an urban setting, and how ties may be retained with the home village. Attention has also been given to slum settlements or shanty towns that have developed around non-Western cities because of the large influx of people. Within urban settings, inter-ethnic relations both in Western and non-Western societies have been considered. Finally, studies on leisure activities and changes have lent insights into the lifestyles, values and ideas of urban populations. RK

See also caste; development; modernization; scarcity; space and time; tourism; Westernization.Further reading U. Hannerz, Exploring the City; , Aidan Southall (ed.), Urban Anthropology; , P.D. Wiebe, Social Life in an Indian Slum.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
Universals And Particulars


Other Terms : Cytology | Rock Music | Monopsony
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About |
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us