Comparison of Urban Sociological Theories
In order for an urban sociologist to discover “How urban societies work,” theories of “urban ecology” or “political economy” are used as a guide in their research. Urban ecology refers to the importance of social structure and social organization as shaping social life in the city. Urban ecologist concerns for social order, social cohesion, community ties and social differentiation offer key insight to how societies work (Kleniewski, 2001). Alternatively political economy stresses the use of power, domination and resources in the shaping of cities (Kleniewski, 2001). Urban sociologists’ theoretical approach to research questions is based on fundamental assumptions that they find most useful for understanding the operation of the social world. Therefore researchers using these different theories will ask different questions, examine different data and interpret their findings in different ways (Kleniewski, 2001). In the early years of 1910-1920, a time of social change and urban growth, urban sociologists in the United States, the Chicago School, were directly confronted by the diversity, liveliness and apparent fragmentation of urban life. The urban sociologists of the Chicago School drew a concern for order, cohesion and social relationships (Kleniewski, 2001). The founder of the Chicago School of urban sociology was Robert E. Park. He believed that cities are like living organisms, composed of interconnected parts and that each part relates to the structure of the city as a whole and to the other parts (Kleniewski, 2001). Park called his approach to urban life “human ecology,” a term used interchangeably with “urban ecology.” Human ecology studies the “social norms” which are rooted in the relationship between human populations and the environment or territories they inhabit, stressing the orderly interaction of interdependent parts of social life in urban areas (Kleniewski, 2001). Human ecologist, Louis Wirth shared...
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