Chapter 4: Contemporary Urban Sociology

Urban Sociology is composed of four conceptual changes which include a shift to a global perspective on capitalism and the metropolis, inclusion of factors such as class exploitation, racism, gender, and space in the analysis of metropolitan development, an attempt to integrate economic, political, and cultural government intervention, and finally the shift to multicenter, regional approach to cities and suburbs.

Karl Marx emphasized the dominance of economic consideration in analysis. This helped us to study to political economy, which differs from the ecological perspective. Weber emphasized how cultural and political factors affected individual behavior and social history along with economic activity. Though they took two different approaches to social development, these two ideas go hand in hand when trying to study the trends and overall function of the city.

Throughout his study, Marx identified seven social class groups.The Political Economy perspective studies the modes of social organization like feudalism and capitalism affect the social relations situated within the city. Engles’ double tendency of capitalism focuses on the capital investment. This concentrated capital investment which made industrial production easier because the large scale and close proximity of money and people. Because of this large-scale production, the workers did not have adequate pay for standard living. These extended conditions of capital accumulation conceptualizes the reproduction of the relations of production. This ensures the continued use of the working class across generations.

Uneven development is the variation in the affluence of particular places. People with money invest in places and enterprises that will bring them the highest rate return. Its all about profit.The second circuit of capital real estate investment. Investors are about the profit so they will purchase a piece of land and they will either keep it or the will put it use. They sell this land maybe for housing or retail and profit is made. It’s a cycle that they complete because they take the profit and reinvest it in more land.

Lefebvre says that capital investors think about space is according to its qualities of dimensions. Size, width, area, location and ultimately profit is what makes up the idea of abstract space. Typically people live in this environment.David Gordon introduced class conflict. He says in his study that the locations chosen by capitalist for factories were affected by not only by economic needs but also by the desire to move their workers from areas of union organizing.Geographers Michael Storper and Richard Walker say that the labor theory of locations focuses on the quality of labor. It’s the physical attributes of the worker and the training and interest in being a part of a union.

Harvey asserts four things that help us to analyze the study of urban development. The first thing he says is that the city is defined in the manner of Engles as a spatial node that concentrates the circulation capital. The second thing he asserts is that conflict perspective explains the way capitalist and the working classes confront each other in the city. His third assertion is how the volatile urban mix of economic interest brings about government intervention as a means of quieting things down so that planning can take place and capitalist can get back to making profit. His last assertion is that capitalist involved in the first industrial circuit are principally interested in location within the urban environment and in reducing their cost of manufacturing.

Justin Bartlett

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