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URBAN STUDIES. LECTURE 1 P. Adams. Approaches. Physical (urban biophysical) Human-environment (env. determinism or possibilism) Regional studies Spatial analysis Behaviorist Marxist Humanist Social theory Postmodern. Tools. Writing Mapping Mathematical modeling Spatial modeling

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urban studies



P. Adams

  • Physical (urban biophysical)
  • Human-environment (env. determinism or possibilism)
  • Regional studies
  • Spatial analysis
  • Behaviorist
  • Marxist
  • Humanist
  • Social theory
  • Postmodern
  • Writing
  • Mapping
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Spatial modeling
  • GIS
topics of recent interest
Topics of Recent Interest
  • Urbanization and global cities
  • Feminist urban geography
  • Urban culture
  • Urban history
  • Locational analysis
focusing in
Focusing In
  • Urban biophysical
    • Urban micro-environment (fauna, flora, climate, groundwater, surface water, air)
    • Feral cats, invasive species, wild species with new habits
    • Neglected subject
  • Human-Environment
    • Determinism (Wittfogel, Semple)
    • Possibilism (site issues and shifting definition of “resource”)
focusing in6
Focusing In
  • Regional Studies (descriptive, atheoretical)
  • Spatial Analysis
    • Location and distance are primary interests
    • Diffusion is another interest
    • Chauncy Harris, Edward Ullman, Walter Christaller, August Lösch
      • prediction of the location and growth of cities (situation)
      • interest in urban hierarchy
      • prediction of the location of facilities within cities
      • inter- and intra- urban pattern identification
      • location optimization for planning and investment
      • extraction of general principles and laws
focusing in7
Focusing In
  • Behaviorist urban studies
    • incorporated psychological findings & theories
    • recognized perceived/experienced distance as more important than “map distance”
    • sought most direct connection to human behavior
  • Marxist urban studies
    • questions the motivation behind the prevailing questions
    • values intervention over explanation & prediction
    • addresses justice and equity issues previously ignored
    • reveals contradictions (conflicts of interest and power relations)
focusing in8
Focusing In
  • Humanist urban studies
    • emphasizes understanding rather than explanation or intervention
    • looks at experience for its own sake, not as a cause of behavior
  • Postmodernist urban studies
    • opposes modernism
      • anti-rational
      • anti-bureaucratic
      • opposed to “master narratives” (rejects attempt to find a single best way to understand the city)
      • employs irony and playfulness to disrupt what it sees as the oppressive power of rationality
      • draws on Marxism, feminism, postcolonial and ethnic studies
    • growing interest in hybrids (human-machine networks and human-animal networks)
focusing in9
Focusing In
  • Social Theory in urban studies
    • symbolic constructivism
    • social contestation (class, race, gender esp.)
    • landscape iconography
    • blend of Marxist, humanist and postmodernist insights
    • seeks primarily to intervene rather than explain or understand
      • explanation is seen as being strategic means of supporting the interests of capital
      • understanding is seen as being a vain attempt to find common ground where there is none
topics of recent interest10
Topics of Recent Interest
  • Urbanization and global cities (econ.)
  • Feminist urban geography (pomo.)
  • Urban culture (pomo. & social theory)
  • Urban history (mainly empirical, some Marxist, social theory & pomo.)
  • Locational analysis (spatial anal., planning, corporate, governmental)
hospitals clinics from multiple perspectives
Hospitals & Clinics from multiple perspectives
  • Determining the optimum location for a new hospital
  • Understanding the sense of place associated with being hospitalized
  • Exposing the fact that hospitals are concentrated in the wealthier parts of the city
  • Revealing the way clinics treat people differently based on whether they have insurance
  • Exposing how the “healthy body” promoted by clinics is one suited to work rather than pleasure
  • Comparing the number of emergency room cases in a rich neighborhood and a poor neighborhood
hospitals clinics from multiple perspectives12
Hospitals & Clinics from multiple perspectives
  • Finding differences between hospital workers’ respect for the privacy of men versus women
  • Identifying the main geographical area served by each hospital in a city
  • Analyzing how climate affects the annual cycle of illness based on hospital admissions data
  • Exposing the development and expansion of a monopolistic network of hospitals in the eastern US
  • Understanding how residents of a neighborhood feel about a new hospital being built nearby
  • Showing the success of a community movement to stop the closure of a nearby hospital
primary source
Primary Source
  • Kingsley Davis
  • “The Urbanization of the Human Population”
  • Scientific American, 1965
  • Definition: increase over time in the percentage of a population that lives in cities as opposed to rural areas
  • Cut-off must be determined: Kingsley Davis used cities of 100,000
    • People in larger centers were considered “urban”
    • People in smaller centers were considered “rural”
    • Is this a justified cut-off?
    • Should the cut-off change over time?
    • How?

Richard Morrill “Classic Map Revisited”

The Professional Geographer 58(2), p.156.

population sizes of some places in texas
Population sizes of some places in Texas
  • Dripping Springs 1,548
  • Buda 2,404
  • Bastrop 5,340
  • Bryan 65,660
  • College Station 67,890
  • Austin 656,562
  • Austin MSA 1,249,763
    • Should Buda & Dripping Spgs. be counted separately?
  • Houston MSA 4,250,000
an example of urbanization
An example of urbanization

“Developed Country” example

another example of urbanization
Another example of urbanization

“Developing Country” example

The typical S-curve of urbanization(varies from place to place regarding the onset time and steepness of the slope)
why does the top of the curve begin to slope down
Why does the top of the curve begin to slope down?
  • As cities grow quickly, crowding and pollution constitute disamenities(opposite of amenities, things that make cities less attractive places to live)
  • Societies with a high level of economic development have better communication & transportation infrastructure (such as freeways and phone lines) that permit people to flee from cities to suburbs
  • Individuals in developed countries can most easily afford personal transportation, which in turn enable spread-out development
what urbanization is not
What urbanization is not:
  • “Urban growth” this is growth in the population of a particular city or cities
  • “Urban sprawl” this is growth in urbanized land area due to low density development
  • Endless “Urbanization is a finite process” (Davis p.7)
complicating factors
Complicating factors
  • Locating the boundaries
    • Political jurisdictions (municipalities) generally under-bound the relevant areas of urbanization
    • Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) must therefore be identified
    • Chicago MSA has more than 1,100 local governments
    • NYC, Philadelphia & Pittsburgh MSAs each include more than 500 municipalities
  • Comparing cities across cultures
    • Should the “cut-off” between a town (rural) and a city be the same in the U.S. as it is in Mongolia?
  • Should we measure the “urban” population in terms of linear distance or time-distance from urban amenities?
current degree of urbanization
Current degree of urbanization
  • Globally, the 50% urbanized mark will be passed in 2007
  • 16.7% of world’s population was urbanized in 1965!
  • About 80% of U.S. population is urbanized, but the remainder generally has access to urban amenities
    • Can easily drive to a city
    • Often have a family member who commutes to work in a city
    • Can buy nationally-marketed brands
    • Can participate in urban culture via TV, computer, etc.
causes of urbanization
Causes of urbanization
  • Reflects growing economic role of cities
    • commerce
    • industrialization
    • social specialization
  • Which leads to rural-urban migration
  • Rural-urban migration also occurs due to:
    • population growth in rural areas
    • growth in agricultural output per person
    • overt and covert government policies

(e.g. enclosure, 1750-1850)

    • aggression against villagers by national military, guerillas, miners, etc.
the 10 least urbanized countries
The 10 least urbanized countries
  • Rwanda
  • Burundi
  • Uganda
  • Malawi
  • Ethiopia
  • Burkino Faso
  • Eritrea
  • Bhutan
  • Nepal
  • Papua New Guinea

Yellow areas on map

the 10 most urbanized countries
The 10 most urbanized countries
  • Singapore
  • Kuwait
  • Belgium
  • Qatar
  • Iceland
  • Uruguay
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Argentina
  • Lebanon

Outlined areas on map

what factors lead to high low levels of urbanization
What factors lead to high/low levels of urbanization?
  • Low urbanization reflects lack of economic development
  • High urbanization reflects economic development, agricultural potential, and small country size combined


Americans often assume that cities like this exist only in Europe, the US, and Japan

problems specific to cities in developing countries
Problems specific to cities in developing countries
  • Although cities are growing rapidly, they are still not able to absorb all the surplus population from the countryside
    • Population density increases in countryside despite rural-urban migration
    • Rural-urban migration shows little sign of abating
  • City growth occurs without the kind of economic growth seen when the U.S. & Europe were urbanizing (capital is now too footloose)
  • High number of squatters (1/4 – 1/3 of total urban population) shows inability of urban & national govt. to pay for urban infrastructure improvements
  • Of the 3 million air-pollution related deaths each year, some 2.7 million are in the developing world
  • UN estimate: 1/6 of global population occupies slums

Squatter Settlement, Mumbai(http://www.heartspace.org/sshow/main/intro.html)

we re comparing apples oranges
We’re comparing apples & oranges
  • What do you think is different?
    • Levels of “development”
    • Economic prosperity
    • Public health & welfare
    • All of which relate to:
      • Rates of growth
      • The city’s role in the global economy
      • The colonial, post-colonial, and Cold-War situation of the country it is in
      • Access to human and natural resources
do the math
Do the math …
  • Over 2% annual growth a city:
  • Doubles in population every 37 years
  • Triples every 57 years
  • Grows by 600% in a century
  • At its current growth rate Jakarta’s population will surpass 50 million in just 33 years
summary of urbanization
Summary of Urbanization
  • Urbanization is a process
  • Urbanization is not the same as urban growth or sprawl
  • Urbanization is just passing the 50% mark at the global level and is rapidly increasing
  • Urbanization is about 80% in the US and is stable or declining
  • Urbanization is accompanied by extreme poverty and hardship in many parts of the world