What Is Rurality and Urbanity?

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Module 4

What is Rurality and Urbanity?

Lutgarda L. Tolentino, PhD.

This paper attempts to differentiate rurality from urbanity. Rural-urban differences abound and can easily be demonstrated. These can be demonstrated occupationally, ecologically and socio-culturally. What to appears not to be easy is to explain these differences. While these differences used to be explained in terms of rural-urban dichotomy and continuum, this could not be used anymore as it is recognized today that dichotomies and continuity of rural and urban based on the three parameters mentioned above often times create more ambiguity that it has solved. While occupational differences can still be used as differentiating criteria of rurality and urbanity, there is a tendency, however, that occupational categories transcends spatial boundaries as a consequence of physical mobility of people. In similar way, agricultural and industrial production occur today in rural and urban settings. Social relations based on community and association, organic and mechanical solidarity, status and contract do not occur specifically in geographical region of city and country but may occur in both. Consequently, explaining rural-urban dichotomy or in a continuum does hold water anymore.

But the new rural sociology rediscovers rurality and agriculture not as an isolated entity but as part of a total system. This is especially true on how farming is organized and how it is related to the other sectors of society. It is organized very differently from that of the urban industrial production system because if its closeness to nature. This is despite the attempts of humanity to put nature under social control. We can civilize nature probably in a such a way that bio-technologies may end up the contradictions between nature and society but it may end up to dreadful consequences for everybody both in the developing and developed world. Hence, it seems that humanity is not really able to put nature under its control.

Because of the closeness of agriculture to nature, the nature of rural society markedly differs from the cities and urban centers. While cities before were centers of industrial capitalist production, cities today are not only centers of these activities, but have been rediscovered both as (1) important nodes or ‘basing’ points for the economy of global flows and as (2) ‘coordinates’of the entrepreneurial state responding directly to the situated needs of global capital. As regards the first role, cities are control centers of interlocking globalizing dynamics of financial markets, producer services industries, corporate headquarters and associated service industries (telecommunications, business conferences, transport, poverty development, etc). Regarding the second function, cities act as economic motors. They act as knowledge-base. They are the sources of innovation, information, knowledge and interactive reasoning which links various service headquarters of functions, media, cultural and arts industries, education and information services organization, and research, development, science and technology institutions. Cities also act as a source of vital agglomeration economies. Certain privileged metropolitan areas offer rich transactional opportunities for interpersonal proximity to facilitate competition and adjustment for shifting production mixes for volatile and fluctuating markets. Cities are also sources of cultural revitalization for urban renewal as well as for ‘expressive specialist’. Underlying all these streams of urbanism is an emphasis on the special effects of spatial proximity in an otherwise deterritorrialized and disembedded world-cities as clusters of knowledge and knowledgeable people, agglomerations of specialized firms, as a critical mass of cultural creativity and informal exchange.

Cities of globalized society typically exhibit the ‘in here-out there’ mixes. Correspondingly they manifest heterogeneity, shifting...
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