Chicago School or New Urban Sociology?

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To choose between the old Chicago Theory of urban areas and the New Urban sociology is difficult. Both present good arguments as to the structure of cities, but both are also plagued with many criticisms. The works of classic sociologists such as Max Weber, Fredrick Engels, and Karl Marx have stood the test of time; many of their theories are what the new urban sociology, as well as, many other modern theories have developed from. One the other hand, figures is Chicago’s Theory such as William Foote Whyte, Robert Park, and E. W. Burgess although younger in comparison, are also appealing. Chicago’s theories are idealistic, according to their belief all phenomenon in society is natural. I believe that there are many shifts in the structures of society due to the power exerted by the elite to their own benefit, but there are also changes that are not orchestrated, rather they are the result of the interdependence of structures in society. Where Chicago’s theories are idealistic, new urban sociology is often cynical. Sociologist that conform with the new urban sociology to the extreme believe that all shifts in society are planned with the goal of increasing the divisions of labor, and in essence, furthering the divide between classes. These two competing divisions in sociology are at extreme opposites of the spectrum to which I see myself falling somewhere in between, but leaning more towards the new urban sociology.

Henri Lefebrvre talks of two types of space in his theories, abstract and social space. Abstract space is the way in which investors, as well as, the state see urban space. To these individuals this space has only monetary value and it is an opportunity for them to create profit. Social space is how those that live in the environment use the space. Social space has not only monetary value but also meaning to those who occupy it. Lefebrvre believes that property relations need to be altered to create a better functioning society. A hot topic in our...
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