SOCY 327 Blog #3: 1/28-2/3

1. City-States and Urban Empires Era


Year Range: 3100 B.C.E. – 539 B.C.E.

Facts: The name Mesopotamia translate as “between rivers” in Greek, as it is between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. During the Paleolithic Era, humans first settled in Mesopotamia and people started off living in small settlements. After agriculture began to develop in this area, farming communities began to form and eventually, major cities formed from that. Mesopotamia is considered to be the first civilization and is a region about 300 miles long by 150 miles wide. Mesopotamian culture was first to develop written language, religion, and agriculture. Mesopotamian culture is also known for the invention of glass, the wheel, and the seeder plow, all important to us in modern society today.

Sociological Analysis: Mesopotamia is important in sociology and the development of cities because many factors have played a large role in the development of cities. With it’s beginning in small settlements and eventual development into big cities where language and religion formed, these were important in how we see religion today in society with hundreds of different religions with a wide range of belief systems and higher powers involved. Also, the invention of the wheel was important at this time because it’s an essential invention to us in modern society today as we use it on our transportation.


2. Medieval and Renaissance Era

Year Range: 500 C.E. (Medieval Era) – 15th century (end of Renaissance)

During the Medieval and Renaissance Era, known as The Middle Ages, nation-states and legal codes were established. Centuries before the Renaissance, judicial courts in Europe took from law codes of ancient Rome in order to develop a more complex legal system. Roman law was known “civil law”, meant to regulate commercial trade that began during this era. While Rome had civil law, England had “common law”, where previous court decisions were just as important as law statutes. In terms of religion, most religious practices in Europe involved simply going to church services on Sundays and only on occasion participating in confessions or baptisms. During this era, people wanted a closer relationship with God with no interference from a priest, leading to the movement of popular piety, which influenced individualism during the Renaissance Era and pietism in the Protestant religion.

Sociological Analysis: The Medieval Era showed a time of development in terms of our judicial system. In England, the common law is sometimes still used for court cases and this law system has been built upon since the Medieval and Renaissance Eras. Religion during these eras was important because this is when individuality began to develop. More and more people began to believe that they didn’t need anyone to explain a religion or how to practice it to them and this development has led to how people treat religion today in terms of this individuality.


3. Case Study of London

Year Range: 50 A.D. – present

Facts: London has always been a diverse area in the United Kingdom due to its unique history and its connection to the United States. This history has made London a great tourist spot because it’s always growing and changing. London is very important in history because it became a big stop for commercial and recreational trade across countries. London has also played a large role in the art world, as it was one of the countries that was heavily influenced by the Renaissance Era and the art that came from that.

Sociological Analysis: Because London is always changing, this makes it very significant in sociological analysis. London has a lot of history with the United States and with surrounding countries. London is still developing in many ways, still making it a very popular tourist spot. We still learn about important figures form London such as William Shakespeare, a famous playwright known for his tragedies.


4. Colonial Era

Year Range: 1620 – 1776

Facts: The Colonial Era is where the thirteen American colonies began to develop. This era was marked by applying English common law to handle court proceedings at the time. Pilgrims left England and migrated to the United States, specifically Massachusetts, in order to escape religious intolerance, as they were strictly Protestant during a time where Catholicism was still a large-scale religion across some parts of Europe. The Pilgrims created a government largely based on church leadership, but eventually, the northern states developed into societies with a growing commercial working class that created demand for lawyers and judges in courts. The southern colonies, on the other hand, were shaped by different traditions, where slavery and law developed.

Sociological Analysis: The Colonial Era was a very important time sociologically as this was likely the beginning of the development of what we call the United States today. This era is where we see new communities forming based on religious beliefs and trading of slaves. Religion in the area at this time was important because the people who migrated to the United States were rebelling against the primary religious beliefs of those in Europe. This rebellion is important because you can see this a lot through time, leading to today. This independence of the Pilgrims is important because this further encouraged economic development at this time.


5. Great Metropolis and the Gilded Age

Year Range: 1870-1950

Facts: The Gilded Age was a period of economic and population growth after the Civil War and reconstruction in the 19th century. With this growth, came problems. During The Gilded Age, hours were long and low wages were still common as immigration rose to a level where employers felt that they could get cheap workers. During this time, it was common for children to work as well. Although the United States was developing economically, it was on the backs of all of these workers while the middle and upper class individuals did not have to worry about this. The Gilded Age also saw urban expansion, the Great Metropolis. The middle class began to seek homes outside of cities, encouraging the development of the suburbs. The Transcontinental Railroad was finished during the Gilded Age, making it much easier to transport goods across the country. The Gilded Age also saw the rise of labor unions for the working class to protest the conditions that they were forced to work under. The Gilded Age was said to have culminated the Industrial Revolution.

Sociological Analysis: The Gilded Age changed cities dramatically. This era encouraged great economic advancement throughout the eastern United States and The Gilded Age largely developed the modern day cities that we are used to seeing now. The shift of the working class going from working in poor conditions to protesting them shows us how we’ve come to this point today in the 21st century. With the rise of the middle-class, this encouraged surrounding areas to develop in the same way and this continued for a long time.


6. The Great Migration

Year Range: 1916- 1970

Facts: The Great Migration was the relocation of millions of African Americans from the South to the North and Western areas of the United States. Harsh segregation laws and low wages in the South pushed the beginning of the Great Migration. Between 1910 and 1920, the African American population in the city of New York grew by 66 percent, while the African American population in the city of Philadelphia grew by 500 percent. Although working conditions were still dangerous, many who migrated found jobs in factories. Because of tensions involving housing, African Americans began creating their own cities, encouraging the constant growth of African American culture.

Sociological Analysis: The Great Migration was important sociologically because African Americans began to branch out and get away from the very strict and racist culture in the South, exchanging those experiences for their own cities and other significant historical events such as the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Although African Americans still dealt with racism, the Great Migration encouraged creativity and political activism from African Americans.


7. One Sociologically Relevant Historical Fact about New Orleans

New Orleans has always been known for its emphasis on jazz music and a lively atmosphere in modern times, but we don’t learn too much about the history of New Orleans, before the jazz and the lively atmosphere. Back in the 1800s, New Orleans was the United States’ wealthiest city because its port shipped most of the nation’s produce to other countries such as the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. At this time, New Orleans was also the largest city in the Confederacy. This is an interesting fact because even though Louisiana is a southern state known for it’s involvement with slavery like most of the South, it turned out that the few of New Orleans’ Black community freed from slavery was actually thriving with all of this going on.


8. One Sociologically Relevant Historical Fact about Detroit

During the Great Migration, Detroit’s African American population grew by over 600 percent. When African Americans migrated to Detroit from the South, White people living there were unhappy with this and over several days, mobs of both races attacked members of the other race and federal troops were called in to assess the situation after 34 people had already been killed. In 1967, Black residents of Detroit rioted a police raid at a club and the Army was called in. From a sociological perspective, it’s important to know this history because it contributes largely to Detroit’s current societal and economic problems and we must understand that there can be a way to fix these issues.


9. One Sociologically Relevant Historical Fact about San Francisco/Oakland

San Francisco is largely associated with the Gold Rush in 1848. By 1849, the population of San Francisco increased from 300 people in small settlements to 2000 in early 1849. By the end of 1849, the population of San Francisco had skyrocketed to 25,000. Not only was San Francisco associated with the Gold Rush, but San Francisco Bay had become one of the world’s greatest seaports, leading the American West in shipping and transportation. San Francisco has an important history sociologically, as the Gold Rush brought an influx of people with different religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds, increasing the diversity of the population and making it the diverse city that we know it as today.


10. One Sociologically Relevant Historical Fact about New York (City)

In 1664. the British seized New York City from the Dutch. Since then, the population has always increased, including a diverse population of immigrants from the Netherlands, England, France, and Germany. During the 1760s, New York City was actually the capital of the United States since it was home of George Washington’s Continental Army. This fact was interesting because we know New York City as being a very diverse city today and to know that it was always diverse, even as the capital of the United States, shows that it has a significant history.



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