Functions of the City

In this short wiki page, I will be investigating the function and importance of city/urban spaces (in relation to) toward human actions in them. What is the role of the city and a role of a man in those spaces, what creates a functionable and dysfunctional city and what kind of impact the city space has on human individuals. In this instance I will focus on Max Weber and European Urban Theory, as well as with Emile Durkheim basic theory of Functionalism. The theorist choice has been made with the interest in the functionality of the city and my own personal observations of those processes.

Max Weber is highlighting couple of important points that are being discussed in European Urban Theory. Weber and Simmel’s were both interested in finding potential solutions for urban spaces and its functionality, Simmel’s argued that to solve existing problems in the city the process of specialization would have to be enforced following the ideas of ‘’neo-Kantian formalism’’. Weber however, following his observation and analytic skills described ‘’the city’’ as a place of ‘’densely settled area of crowded dwellings’’ big enough to describe them as little ‘’colonies’’ where ‘’reciprocal acquaintance’’ is barely possible. Weber then continues that the idea of the city is more complex than just a place with crowded dwellings with different tribes in them, as this would result in neglecting the importance of impersonality and the display of cultural/communal/local identity distinguishing the city from other distinctively different cities and its functions. Weber’s describes his study focus on a form of social behaviourism, as he later claimed that sociology should aim at explaining human development/conduct ‘’in its meaningful dimensions’’ in other words internally not just externally. Weber was able to review each aspect/feature of city functionality, following the ‘’economic, relation of the city to agriculture, political administration, (…) foster and garrison, (…) fusion of fortress and market, (…) social and status concept, (…) military’’ etc. Each of those aspects has been individually tested by Weber through the process of ‘’isolation’’ of each of the factors, this process involved separation and specialization for example; one of the cities were specializing more in agricultural production rather than in more complex political administration of the country, where one city was based around agricultural cultivation (production of food) then other cities were able develop more consumeristic and more comprehensive commercial markets etc.

However, Emile Durkheim argues that the societies or social systems are naturally organic (also referred as organic solidarity) due to establishment of structures of cultural rules that every single member of that group/society must obey. This is also the reference towards the functionality of the institutions in social structures that are being called administrate/government institutions. Durkheim later argue that to retain the function of the society as well as the city, there is a need for ‘’functional prerequisites’’ which are: ‘’reproduction, system of communication and agreed standards of behaviour’’. All these factors from Functionalist perspectives applied in urban or sub-urban setting are the tools to create healthy (organic) society that will lead into greater cohesion in between different communities and will lead into greater prosperity on material and social stance.

My personal perspective about the purpose and the function of the city or urban spaces is quite like Weber’s European Urban Theory as well as the Durkheim Theory of Functionalism that outline the importance of human communities and their contribution into sustainability of their existence in those complex social structures. My personal observation of how city function is similar or more likely to be the same of the idea that for the society to function you have to have a specialized sector of production, distribution and consumption of the goods and services offered by others. The city is a special place of endless opportunities for social interaction and ability for trade with others, who are willing to contribute into the lives of others who are seeking their service to fulfil their needs and desires.

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