Summary of Max Weber: The city

Summary of Max Weber: The city

City consists of collection of relatively closed settlement of one or more separate dwellings. In modern times, in city personal acquaintance of inhabitants is less and there is high degree of impersonality. City has high density and large population. But size of population alone can be sufficient to define a city.

In city, inhabitants primarily live trade and commerce i.e. non agricultural, as a result a market exists. Market settlement should be regular rather than occasional exchange of goods. Urban markets satisfy the needs of local population, non urban people and sometime even foreign market. The market is medieval times was controlled by prince or lord, but in now it need not have any physical attachment to prince. City can also be an intersection point where transportation and exchange of goods takes place and thus encourages entrepreneurs and thus city could be a pure market place with a few highly specialized entrepreneurs. Elites depend on market for more want of goods and thus lead to growth of markets and thus city has presence of large consumers who have special economic interests. A city can also have large industries, factories etc which can produce goods at a very large scale. Urban markets supply a normal flow of goods, but they need not be sole providers of goods. In today’s times, most of earnings of an organization flow to places other than place of earning due to globalization. Thus it is difficult to classify a place solely based on economic condition.

In modern times, occupation of habitants in city is non agricultural and they get food from outside of city in general. In general, habitants of city also don’t own a large acre of land for cultivation of food. City has its own regulatory system i.e. landed property and a budget of receipt and expenditure. Due to presence of dynamic market condition, government makes ‘urban economic policies’ in order to stabilize conditions of market by means of regulation and standardization. This leads to better economic opportunities and occurs in certain political conditions. Thus a need for political-administrative arrangements arises. Regulation of economy thus becomes counterpart of organization of urban city and sometimes leads to friction between inhabitants. Urban regulations of land ownership, taxes etc are quite different from rural and thus become an important criteria to classify a place as urban city.

Due to presence of market, city has to be guarded by fortress, military or defense system to protect from external aggression. These were closely located to places of market in olden times. But they need not be spatially separated. In modern times, electronic/IT world, where transaction of money occurs online, need have to inbuilt security mechanism and software for defense against external attack. Therefore because of increased security of a city attracts traders, entrepreneurs, investors etc and thus increases economic conditions. Thus both are interrelated.

Due to above various criteria to define city it becomes necessary to standardize the definition. Weber did this for 1st time and gave the following criteria to define a place as city. To constitute a full urban community a settlement must have trade and commercial relations with a) Fortification b) market c) a court of its own ,autonomous law d) related form of association e) At least partial autonomy of government, also administration by authorities.

In city, market may often lead to conflicts and to regulate these we need political-administrative authorities and courts to enforce the autonomous laws related to market defined for a particular urban city and fort or defense system to avoid any attacks. City has administrative boundaries, city wards, streets etc. City has different kinds of land use pattern and segregation of people based on region, language, caste, culture, income, occupation etc leads to formation of association. Therefore all these 5 criteria are logically connected.


4 thoughts on “Summary of Max Weber: The city

  1. manoj007

    sir where all to mention thinkers ?is it in only thinker related topics or every topic of sociology? please clarify thank u

  2. Obhuo Obebinaru Favour

    Nice sociological summary of Max Weber’s view on urbanization and rurality. Try and correct some of your grammatical blunders, although I understand you are not that masterful with English language as an Indian or Asian. All the same, you did a great job.

    Am a male and presently a Nigerian postgraduate student of Sociology at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and Max Weber’s scientific works have been helpful in better understanding the nature of urban-rural societies.

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