The Sociology of Cities, Suburbs, and Towns

A modern city is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon, and to study the essence and content of its concept, an integrated approach is needed from the standpoint of historical, legal, economic, sociological, geographical, and other sciences. The birth of cities goes back centuries, and, as a rule, modern cities are located on the site of ancient settlements. However, history knows quite a few cases when prosperous cities declined and lost their former role.

The basis of the theory of transport of the origin of cities is the change of the dominant means of cargo delivery. The cities where the dominant modes of transport are concentrated are developing. So, initially, American cities appeared along the Atlantic coast, along the Great Lakes, as well as large rivers. Before the advent of railways, waterways have always been the most important transport routes.

Subsequently, the role of cities that grew up in places of major railway junctions increased. Another theory explaining the city’s location is based on finding out the functional specialization of the city. However, this theory has a more limited range of explanations and mainly characterizes cities specializing in processing raw materials associated with special environmental conditions and locations. Many capitals of American states were created so that it was possible for anyone living in the state to get to the capital and return in one day by horseback. However, the specialized function of the city was especially pronounced in the case of mining and metallurgical centers. These cities, specializing in developing only one industry, subsequently face catastrophic difficulties in their own development.

The city’s central place theory is based on the statement that a significant amount of productive agricultural land is needed to maintain the urban area. There are relations in which the city creates a trade zone, which is also necessary for the functioning of the rural territory. Residents of the city and suburbs need various kinds of mutual services. In order for the services provided to be profitable, a statistically determined number of consumers is necessary. In addition, in order for residents to use the services, they must live no further than a certain distance. There is a threshold beyond which it ceases to be convenient and profitable for consumers to use a tiny bakery or hospital, which creates the potential for new buildings.

Therefore, the cities themselves can be considered as a bizarre network of interlacing borders of various ‘thresholds’. However, out of the general interest of citizens in services of various levels, there is a need for the development of the city in a certain place. The above approaches have a sufficient number of critics. In many countries, the postulated division of cities has not been found. Along with this, opinions were expressed that these theories apply only to developed countries (Ren, 2021). The formation of many cities can be explained using the theory of ‘transport change’ and ‘functional specialization of the city’ at the same time.

The main issue that interests me is the future of urbanization. Professional growth dictates the need to unite in certain centers with a high concentration of labor and various resources. These changes lead to the appearance of large formations. Here at first, there was a simple function – to produce. But gradually, culture is moving to new formations: dense placement and concentration of people, ideas are good soil for growth. Besides, it’s trite to have more money here — the comparison is not in favor of the village.

In conclusion, the decisive criterion for determining a city should be a socio-economic characteristic: a city differs from a village in that it is a locality in which the main occupation of residents is non-agricultural production and trade, and administrative and military functions may be absent. At the same time, his community and its non-residents have certain rights and obligations fixed by the prince or the state.


Ren, X. (2021). Suburbs and urban peripheries from a global perspective. City & Community, 20(1), 38-47. Web.

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