Louis Wirth (August 28, – May 3, ) was an American sociologist and member of the His interests included city life, minority group behaviour and mass media and he is recognised as one of the leading urban sociologists. Wirth writes that urbanism is a form of social organisation that is harmful to culture , and. Louis Wirth posits similar reasons for the differences in the urban and rural milieu as does Georg Simmel. Wirth argues that the shift between. Louis Wirth has mentioned four characteristics of urban system or urbanism Following Louis Wirth, Urbanism is a way of life, is characterised by extensive.

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Urbanism as a Way of Life: Concept and Characteristics

Reduced to a stage of virtual impotence as an individual, the urbanite is bound to exert himself by joining with others of similar interest into groups organized to obtain his ends.

Wirth was a supporter of applied sociologyand believed in taking the knowledge offered by his discipline and using it to wirtn real social problems. The segmental character and utilitarian accent of interpersonal relations in the city find their institutional expression in the proliferation of specialized tasks which we see in their most developed form in the professions. Such associations have been identified as a day by which individuals and groups negotiated with each other and experimented with and developed new values and sets of social relationships.

Urbanism as a Way of Life: Concept and Characteristics

Urban society is highly heterogeneous and specialised. The fact that the urban community is distinguished by a large aggregation and relatively3 dense concentration of population can scarcely be left wirgh of account in a definition of the city; nevertheless these criteria must be seen as relative to the general cultural context in which cities arise and exist The extreme degree of interdependence and the unstable equilibrium of urban life are closely associated with the division of labor and the specialization of occupations.

Although Wirth’s thinking originated in this ecological tradition, he is in this extract going beyond it and trying to achieve a balance of ‘ecological’ with individual and cultural factors.


The larger the number of persons in a state of interaction with another, the lower is the level of communication and the greater is the tendency for communication to proceed on an elementary level, i.

Columbia University Press, Wirth later modifies this by suggesting that actual urban societies can be organized on a continuum in which they experience the features of these ideal types to different degrees.

Louis Wirth – Wikipedia

By virtue of his different interests arising out of different aspects of social life, the individual acquires membership in widely divergent groups, each of which functions only with reference to a single segment of his personality.

Homans Pitirim Sorokin Wilbert E. A number of sociological propositions concerning the relationship between A numbers of population, B density of settlement, C heterogeneity of inhabitants and group life can be formulated on the basis of observation and research. The danger here was the tendency to confuse “urban” with other features of social organization such as the expansion of the capitalist market, industrialization, the growth of scientific knowledge and of improved communications.

In viewing urban-industrial and rural-folk society as ideal types of communities, we may obtain a perspective for the analysis of the basic models of human association as they appear in contemporary civilization.

While the city has broken down the rigid caste lines of preindustrial society, it has sharpened and differentiated income and status groups.

Primary relationships involved the total person. Definition, Evolution and Growth. His wirht was mostly concerned with how Jewish immigrants adjusted to life in urban America, as well as the distinct social processes of city life.

The technological developments in transportation and communication which virtually mark a new epoch in human history have accentuated the role of cities as dominant elements in our civilization and have enormously extended the urban mode of living beyond the confines of the city itself.

It is in this respect that Wirth’s path-breaking and insightful work still amply rewards detailed study even today, some seventy years after his original investigations. Merton Robin Lide. The diversity of social life springs from the size, density and heterogeneity of the population, extreme specialization of the various occupations and class structures existing in the larger communities.


The specialization of individuals, particularly in their occupations, can proceed only, as Adam Smith pointed out, upon the basis of an enlarged market, which in turn accentuates the division of labor.

Lundberg Rupert B.

Such acquaintance imbues the city dwellers with the spirit of tolerance. On the basis of the postulates which this minimal definition suggests, a theory of urbanism may be formulated in the light of existing knowledge concerning social groups.

Louis Wirth has mentioned four characteristics of urban system or urbanism — heterogeneity of population, specialisation of function, anonymity and Impersonality and standardisation of behaviour. Day, urbanism is a matter of degree.

A sociological definition of the city

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Urban Personality and collective behaviour It is largely through the activities of the voluntary groups, be their objectives economic, political, educational, religious, recreational, or cultural, that the urbanite expresses and develops his personality, acquires status, and is able to carry on the round of activities that constitute his life career.

The competition for space is great, so that each area generally tends to be put to the use which yields the greatest economic return. While, on the one hand, the traditional ties of human association are weakened, urban existence involves a much greater degree of interdependence between man and man and a more complicated, fragile, and volatile form urbanis mutual interrelations over many phases of which the individual as such can exert scarcely any control. Place and nature of work, income, racial and ethnic characteristics, social status, custom, habit, taste, preference, and urbqnism are among the significant factors in accordance with which the urban population is selected and distributed into more or less distinct settlements.