Tuesday, 13 November 2018



Sociologists define urbanisation as the movement of people from villages to town or city where economic activities are centred around non-agricultural occupations such as trade, manufacturing industry and management.


Urbanization as a structural process of change is generally related to industrialization but it is not always the result of industrialization. Urbanization results due to the concentration of large-scale and small scale industrial and commercial, financial and administrative set up in the cities; technological development in transport and communication, cultural and recreational activities. The excess of urbanization over industrialization that makes it possible to provide employment for all persons coming to urban areas is, in fact, what sometimes leads to over urbanization. In India, a peculiar phenomenon is seen: industrial growth without a significant shift of population from agriculture to industry and of growth of urban population without a significant rise in the ratio of the urban to the total population. While in terms of ratio, there may not be a great shift from rural to urban activities, but there is still a large migration of population from rural areas to urban areas. This makes urban areas choked, there is lack of infrastructural facilities to cope with this rising populations.

Urbanization implies a cultural and social psychological process whereby people acquire the material and non-material culture, including behavioural patterns, forms of organization, and ideas that originated in, or are distinctive of the city. Although the flow of cultural influences is in both directions – both toward and away from the city – there is substantial agreement that the cultural influences exerted by the city on non-urban people are probably more pervasive than the reverse. Urbanization seen in this light has also resulted in what Toynbee has called the “Westernization” of the world.

The idea of urbanization may be made more precise and meaningful when interpreted as aspects of diffusion and acculturation. Urbanization may be manifest either as intra-society or inter-society diffusion, that is, urban culture may spread to various parts of the same society or it may cross-cultural or national boundaries and spread to other societies. It involves both borrowing and lending. On the other side of the diffusion coin is acculturation, the process whereby, individuals acquire the material possessions, behavioural patterns, social organization, bodies of knowledge, and meanings of groups whose culture differs in certain respects from their own. Urbanization as seen in this light is a complex process –

The history of urbanization in India reveals, broadly four processes of urbanization at work throughout the historical period. These are:

  1. The emergence of new social relationships among people in cities and between people in cities and those in villages through a process of social change;

  2. The rise and fall of cities with changes in the political order;

  3. The growth of cities based on new productive processes, which alter the economic base of the city; and

  4. The physical spread of cities with the inflow of migrants, who come in search of a means of livelihood as well as a new way of life.

Urbanization as a Socio-Cultural Process

Cities are social artifacts and stands apart from the countryside, in terms of the higher degree of its acceptance of foreign and cross-cultural influences. It is a melting pot of people with diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds. Seen in this light, urbanization is a socio-cultural process of transformation of folk, peasant or feudal village societies.

India has a continuous history of urbanization since 600 BC. Over this period, three major socio-cultural processes have shaped the character of her urban societies. These are Aryanization, Persianization and Westernization.

The Aryan phase of urbanization generated three types of cities:

  1. The capital cities, where the secular power of the kshatriyas was dominant;

  2. The commercial cities dominated by the vaishyas; and

  3. The sacred cities, which, for a time, were dominated by Buddhists and Jains, who were kshatriyas, and later by brahmins.

With the advent of the Muslim rules from the 10th century AD, the urban centers in India acquired an entirely new social and cultural character. The city became Islamic; Persian and later Urdu was the official language of state and Persian culture dominated the behaviour of the urban elite.

The impact of 150 years of British rule in India, that is, Westernization, is clearly visible in various aspects of city life today – in administration, in education, and in the language of social interaction of the city people and their dress and mannerisms. Urbanism is clearly identified with westernisation.

Urbanization as a Political – Administrative Process

The administrative and political developments have played an important role in urbanization in the past and they continue to be relevant today. From about the 5th century BC to the 18th century AD, urban centers in India emerged, declined or even vanished with the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires. Patliputra, Delhi, Madurai and Golconda are all examples of cities that flourished, decayed, and sometimes revived in response to changes in the political scene. The administrative or political factor often acts as an initial stimulus for urban growth; which is then further advanced by the growth of commercial and industrial activities.

Urbanization as an Economic Process

Urbanization in modern times is essentially an economic process. Today, the city is a focal point of productive activities. It exists and grows on the strength of the economic activities existing within itself. It is the level and nature of economic activity in the city that generates growth and, therefore, further urbanization.

Urbanization as a Geographical Process

The proportion of a country’s total population living in urban areas has generally been considered as a measure of the level of urbanization. Population growth in urban areas is partly a function of natural increase in population and partly the result of migration from rural areas and smaller towns. An increase in the level of urbanization is possible only through migration of people from rural to urban areas. Hence, migration or change of location of residence of people is a basic mechanism of urbanization. This is essentially a geographical process, in the sense that it involves the movement of people from one place to another.

There are three major types of spatial moments of people relevant to the urbanization process. These are

  1. The migration of people from rural villages to towns and cities leading to macro-urbanization

  2. The migration of people from smaller towns and cities to larger cities and capitals leading to metropolisation. It is essentially a product of the centralization of administrative, political and economic forces in the country at the national and state capitals. It is also a product of intense interaction between cities and the integration of the national economy and urban centers into a viable independent system.

The spatial overflow of metropolitan population into the peripheral urban feigned villages leading to a process of sub-urbanization. It is, essentially, an outgrowth of metropolization and here there is a reverse flow of people from the city to the countryside.


Urbanization Process, Trend, Pattern and its Consequences in India ~ Link

Urbanisation in India Trend, Pattern and Policy Issues ~ Link

R. Ramachandran - Urbanization and Urban Systems in India (1989, OUP India) ~ Link

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