Urbanization in the United States

Great American state transformed from rural into urban area in result of fundamental social processes. However, it was rather getting bigger than wealthier. Urban changes were related to demographic transformations, which occurred due to immigration, economic and business activity, geographical location, as well as social and political phenomena. Various approaches to the issue of urbanization define the stages of this process from different perspectives. In fact, the more powerful the country was, the stronger urbanization was developing in it.

Urban change

The biggest impact of urban change in America was observed during the postwar period, accompanied by the spread of emancipation movements. Sufficient changes appeared during the renewal time, which accelerated the construction of advanced social facilities. Northeastern states of the country were the first to enter the stage of urbanization. The transformations of the state influenced all aspects of human life, including housing, transportations, leisure, retail, and industry. The most significant changes affected industrial complex. The driving forces of urban change in America were economy, knowledge, business, regionalism, and demographic aspects. The economic environment transformed after the World War II and launched fundamental changes in the process of urbanization. The beginning of new era sufficiently changed economic circumstances and initiated the transformations of the economy arrangement components, such as the relations between cities and suburbs.  An economic growth was associated with the physical expansion of urban areas. It was a time of fundamental technological growth and the process required companies to hire additional personnel and highly educated professionals. Therefore, technological innovations as well as changes in the infrastructure and market were influenced by the environment.

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The issue of urban change has direct connection with significant development of urban America. The first stage of the economic influence was agglomeration. It was not comfortable to get to job by the means of expensive transport. Therefore, citizens had to live closer to big cities or move to them. Moreover, the economic extension encouraged the companies to initiate further changes, which extended the scale of urbanization. The factor of cooperation between enterprises increased the construction of different facilities that were located close to each other (Silver and Moeser 140). In case a firm demanded a specialist for a short period of time, it was not necessary to hire them, because it was possible to give them job for a certain period. These as well as other factors changed the infrastructure and caused the extension of localization and agglomeration, which led to sufficient acceleration of urbanization.



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Changes, which occurred in urban America, had several dimensions. The first dimension of urban change was the extension of the knowledge in the country. It was related to sufficient economic and industrial growth, because educational level had to develop in response to economic changes. America had an intention to attain a position of a world super power. Thus, power and economic growth were related to the needs of labor market. Moreover, the need was also associated with technical positions. Therefore, it was one of numerous reasons for sufficient development of the educational institutions. Fundamental role of the urban change in America was dedicated to the business composition. It was referred to the industrial mixing of occupations and functions. This change was related to the urbanization of state economy. It was associated with the interactions of different businesses and firms in the organization of production. As a result, it provoked changes in the demographic sphere, because economic changes were related to social issues. The change of demographic aspect included the factors of race, age, ethnicity, immigration, poverty, inequality, and many others.  The economic changes of urban American were correlated with the international immigration processes and baby boom, which made urban population more diverse and led to the changing characteristics of the labor market. Urban transformation was also associated with the development of physical arrangement as well as geographical growth, which belonged to economic components. These indicators were the components of the economic change, associated with the organization of production. However, significant urban change did not solve the issues of poverty, because urbanization was not associated with wealth. The flow of legal and non-legal immigrants aggravated the problem of poverty, because migrants tended to live closer to global industrial cities, which further increased urban changes. As a result, the government had to initiate particular urban restructuring in order to deal with uncontrolled immigration.

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Although the stage of significant changes in America has already finished, the country has entered a new epoch of the urban change. Furthermore, Robert Self compared the biggest urban changes that occur in Babylon, located on the Bay, with Biblical symbols and mentioned that they are associated with processes in California and Oakland (23).  The urban change in America is significantly associated with political and social development. Urban areas are constantly reshaped with the help of family issues, marriage, and baby boom. Americans move to cities, get married, and stay to live there.  The biggest cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, and many others have entered the stage of urban change through the reshaped urbanization, which is influenced by social processes. Actually, these issues have been already observed during the period of emancipation movements, which formed the areas of racial and ethnical minorities, located in the poorest parts of the city. Contemporary urban changes have a different form and occur during the stage of reshaping when the biggest industrial complexes and firms leave the city. Demography and immigration are also changing. The aspect of changes in the frame of urban America has attained a new form, which is significantly different form the previous stage of urbanization. However, it confirms the idea that all urban changes in such spheres as demography, politics, geography, and economy are related to the development of urban America.

Urban America from the perspective of sociologists

Such famous sociologists as Robert Self and John Mouser claim that the issues of urbanization and suburbanization are social phenomena, caused by changes in the society. The analysis, conducted by Robert Self, showed that the biggest overdevelopment of cities was observed during the post war period. As opposed to the common conception concerning urbanization, these sociologists were sure that urban history was characterized by ghetto formation and deindustrialization (2). It was the creation of a certain separate industrial zone, known as industrial garden, which influenced urban development. The society experienced a need for jobs, resources, and space. Moreover, political interference was also sufficient, because racial liberalism, market regulations, and postwar circumstances created a particular political situation, which significantly influences contemporary urban changes. Social ideas of John Mouser were related to the issues of changing class and race structure of the cities. As well as Robert Self, Mouser claimed that black communities contributed to shaping the structure of the city. Therefore, the author made a conclusion that the period of 1940s -1960s was the time of community building in America due to emancipation movements (3). It is possible to conclude that both sociologists believed that black communities created certain blocks inside the cities, which exaggerated urbanization processes. In opposition to the ideas of Self, Mouser defines the stages of the biggest cities formation. The reason of strong urbanization was associated with ghetto developments and extension. Segregation processes forced the Black community to extend their ghettos within cities. Actually, these citizens did not have such opportunities, jobs, space, freedom, and other benefits as the White community. However, it made them closer to the opportunities and extended the emancipation movement. Ghettos had a tendency to extend due to immigration from other countries. People did not have many perspectives there, but they felt safer. Thus, it led to the formation of cities inside the cities. These issues accelerated urbanization more than any other processes in America. Thus, both sociologists have the same ideas concerning urbanization. The biggest difference in their conceptions is the approach towards industrialization. Self considers it to be the main driving force, while Mouser accepts social fractions.

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By taking into consideration the investigation of famous researches, it is possible to conclude that the period of urbanization during the postwar time was the most significant period of American development. The intensification of the process was related to some social and political factors, namely industrialization, social tension among the working class, social divisions, followed by emancipation movements, taxation, and the organization of cities. Strict rules of the capitalism demanded the productivity of the urban space. Therefore, capitalistic impulses provoked sufficient redistribution within the society, so that racial discrimination and segregation resulted in urban transformations. From the perspective of advantages, the authority took some steps to reinforce urban renewal processes (Self 128). Urban issues were also aggravated by the rise of such separate parts of the cities as ghettos, which made urbanization a more social than economic process. Community was changed in result of the destructive power of racial segregation, which distorted the rural life (Silver and Moeser 15). These aspects contributed to social restructuring and new urban politics. These investigations allow drawing certain conclusions, namely that the growth of the postwar cities was socially depended and that liberal conceptions provoked restructuring of urban politics and redistribution of metropolitans. Actually, it is necessary to mention that the process of industrialization was provoked by the complicated post war conditions and was exaggerated by social processes. Mostly, it was related to the attempts of people to survive in the capitalistic circumstances of social divisions.

The ideas of both scientists are reasonable and well-grounded. However, the conception of Robert Self is more detailed, since he takes into consideration both external and internal factors of industrialization, while Mouser concentrates his attention mostly on internal problems of racial segregation and ghettos. The urban theory of Self evaluated gradual transformations, which involved different social, industrial, and even geographical changes. The author of the book American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland deeply investigated each stage of urbanization of the most populated territories in California.


The process of urbanization is a destructive growth of urban zones. The reasons of urbanization have obvious social character, because this process is provoked by a variety of issues. The beginning of urban changes is associated with the end of the World War II, when America gained a position of a super powerful leader in the world. It resulted in the development of urban territories and their extension. The first stage of this process was related to sufficient industrial growth and power of the USA on the international arena. Industrialization and economic growth was significantly affected by educational development, demographic changes, and geographical transformations. For the first time, the idea of community-building appeared during that period, because it was caused by a sufficient change of the social structure. Political and social struggle of the Black community for their position in the state extended racial segregation and emancipation movements, as well as led to the formation of smaller communities within big cities.

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