Chicago School of Urban Anthropology - Social Anthropology

Chicago School of Urban Anthropology

The classical direction of the city's research is the activity of the famous Chicago school (E. Burgess, R. Park, L. Wirth) in the 1920-1930's. The emergence of this school historians of sociology attributed to the explosive growth of the population of American cities in the second half of the XIX - early XX century. Thus, Chicago from a small settlement in 1840 (4,470 people) became a large city with a population of about 500 thousand people. in 1880. Ten years later, its population grew to one million, and in 1930 - to 3.5 million people. In addition, Chicago was swept by waves of immigrants from Europe between 1890 and 1910. The First World War suspended this stream, but immediately after the war it resumed with even greater force.

The general theoretical and methodological platform for research was humanistic social ecology , the concept of which was developed by the ideological inspirer and leader of the Chicago School - Robert Park (1864-1944). In 1915, he organized the first in the US Center for Urban Studies. It was his concept that served as the theoretical and methodological basis for the program of research of local communities in the mountains. Chicago.

P. The park emphasizes that "the modern city has long ceased to be that agglomeration of individual dwellings, what was the peasant village. Rather, it is similar to a civilization whose center and focus is itself, to some kind of extensive physical and institutional structure in which people live like bees in a hive in such conditions that their activities are regulated, regulated and conditioned much more than can to appear to the viewer or to the very inhabitant of it " .

P. The park distinguishes between two groups of factors influencing the urban ecology.

The first group - biotic - is the level of basic human needs (for example, the need for water and other resources), which determines the size of the population in a particular place of residence. The struggle for the possession of resources involves different social groups that are forced to exist together, and this leads to a symbiosis of various elements of human society.

The second group is the cultural level , which is built above the biotic level: customs, norms, laws, social institutions, etc.

In 1916, in the work "City: Proposals for the Study of Human Behavior in the Urban Environment" The park formulated (in fact - for decades to come) a research program for urban anthropologists. In this article, in particular, the following questions are posed.

• What are the sources of the urban population?

• What are urban natural areas of settlement?

• What social rituals are accepted among different neighbors?

• What actions should beginners take to fully integrate and avoid crowding out in this area?

• Who are the local leaders and what is the reason for their influence on the community?

In the work of Park R. "City" The influence of the social environment on the life of a city dweller has been studied, and the biological and economic factors of urban life have been studied. The park examines, in particular, the characteristics of urban society, such as marginality, highlighting its aspects: 1) status: marginal people and groups are in a situation of uncertainty of status positions; 2) normative: in the situation of uncertainty in the value orientations of the individual, they speak of cultural marginality; 3) role: the situation of uncertainty of the role model of behavior. A marginal person, as R. Park emphasizes, is a man whose fate is doomed to live in two societies and in two not simply different, but antagonistic cultures. So, the individual, whose mother is Jewish, and father of the goy, is fatally doomed to grow under the influence of two traditions. In this case, one can say that his mind is a melting pot, where two different cultures that are not refractory to each other melt and completely or partially melt together & quot; .

Louis Wirth (1897-1952) was the first to introduce the concept of "urbanism" into the scientific revolution. as a category of sociology and social anthropology and explored it in the work "Urbanism as a way of life" (1938). Sociologists and anthropologists of the University of Chicago began to develop the theory of urbanism as a special way of life for social groups.

Urban way of life Wirth contrasts the traditional way of life of the rural community and reveals such characteristics of communication of townspeople as "superficiality, anonymity and fleetingness" . Developing the concept of urban lifestyle, R.Wirth distinguishes the leading characteristics of the spatial and social organization of a large city: (a) population size, (b) its density and (c) heterogeneity of residents. These characteristics he connects with the characteristics of a special urban type of personality , formed in closed urban spaces: "The citizen expresses and develops his personality, acquires status and is able to carry out the whole range of activities that make up his life career, mainly through participation in the activities of voluntary groups pursuing economic, political, educational, religious, recreational or cultural goals & quot; .

Expert opinion

& quot; Urbanization is no longer just a process by which people are pulled together into a place called a city and built into its life system. This is also a cumulative sharpening of characteristics that distinguish the lifestyle associated with the growth of cities; Finally, this is also a movement towards lifestyles that are considered urban, which is manifested in people everywhere where they find themselves within a radius of fascinating influences emanating from the city through transport and communication channels, due to the immense power of its institutions and personalities. " .

In particular, the consequence of increasing the population density is a significant increase in contacts with strangers, an increase in various types of traffic and the emergence of complex technologies in the city.

The consequence of population heterogeneity is increased social vertical mobility. At the same time, for the townspeople, the most important are the groups of interests in the processes of social mobility, in contrast to the traditional society, in which the family was the most important factor determining the placement in the social hierarchy.

Wirth comes to the conclusion about the importance of secondary cultural factors and social institutions. It is because of the shifts in the size, density and heterogeneity of the urban population that various kinds of social upheavals occur.

L. Wirth reveals the leading trends in urban lifestyle:

• weakening of primary bonds, which become fragmentary and superficial;

• enhance the anonymity of communication;

• a decrease in the social role of the family and the neighborhood community;

• the predominance of secondary, formal-role relationships;

• Reducing the role of tradition and weakening social solidarity;

• the growth of social disorganization;

• Personality segmentation.

Wirth's concept of urban lifestyle remains one of the most authoritative in Western sociology and social anthropology, although not all of Virt's theoretical findings (for example, the statement about the disintegration of personal ties in a large city) have stood the test of time.

The authoritative representative of the Chicago school Ernst Burgess (1886-1966), in whose works the applied version of social ecology was developed with a special attention to the methodology and methodology of urban studies. So, he developed the theory of "urban concentric zones" and on this basis revealed the social heterogeneity of the space of a large city.

In the years 1923-1924. E. Burgess and his colleagues completed a grand research project "The map of Chicago, compiled on the basis of social studies". With its help, the information about this American metropolis: its physical characteristics, political boundaries, its zoning, its commercial development, etc., was known for a moment. The results of the study are summarized in the classic work of Burgess "Growth of the City: An Introduction to the Research Project" (1925), where the idea of ​​concentric zones in Chicago was first detailed.

Burgess notes & quot; ideal design & quot; peculiar to a small or large city tendencies to radial expansion from the central business district (I). The central part of the city is usually surrounded by a transitory or transit zone, in which business and light industry penetrate (II). The third zone (III) is inhabited by industrial workers who fled the desolation zone (II), but who want to live closer to their place of work. Outside this zone is the & quot; sleeping area & quot; (IV), formed by comfortable apartment buildings or closed areas of private houses belonging to individual families. Further away, outside the city itself, is a zone of suburbs and satellite towns located half an hour away from the central business district & quot; .

The zoning methodology of cities was then effectively used by H. U. Zorba in the work "Gold Coast and Slums". (1929), containing the results of the study of the northern part of the mountains. Chicago, as well as the coast of Lake Michigan, populated by both the wealthiest families of the city, and the poorest part of urban slums. In the same part of the city there are quarters of bohemia, as well as quarters inhabited by Italians. Using the method of included surveillance, Zorbo identified, in particular, the "social game" - the process of entry of new members into the unofficially existing "secular register": "Social game" is a constant competition between "people entering the upper circle" for distinction and superiority and constant struggle on the part of those who "do not enter" into this circle , for breaking into it & quot; .

He discovered the skillful technique of penetration of newcomers, first, through the use of children, as means (through training in some educational institutions) of acquaintance and establishing contacts, and secondly, through participation in various charitable events organized by women from high society. Zorbo was able to establish that families included in the "social register" had their own narrow circle of contacts from 10-12 families: "These small groups gather at" receptions. " But they do not mix: they break up into the same small groups of ten to twenty people and dance in their own narrow circle, as if there's no one else in the room. & lt; ... & gt; They even try to avoid meeting the owners of the house & quot; . In fact, this is a struggle for status and influence.

The practical importance of the studies of the Chicago School is great. So, scientists were able to convince the city authorities of Chicago that the effective solution of the most acute social problems of the city is possible only on the basis of profound professional scientific study of such problems, based on analysis of long-term and medium-term social forecasts.

However, many anthropologists and sociologists are critical of the results of the research of the Chicago school. ER Yarskaya-Smirnova and PV Romanov distinguish the following directions of such criticism.

Criticism was the desire of the Chicago School to identify the notion of urbanism with the living conditions of large western industrial cities, although the samples shown in the works of this school are not characteristic of all cities.

So, G. Schoberg in the process of research of the pre-industrial city has proved that the social organization of such settlements is based on the social-class hierarchy, on strong ties of kinship and specialization in work. In these cities, anonymity and confusion are minimized, which L.Wirth described as indispensable features of the urban lifestyle. According to Schoberg, in the pre-industrial city the dominant form of social organization was households with extended families.

Researchers in the cities of Timbuktu and Yoruba also described large densely populated and permanent settlements. However, these settlements were socially organized through kinship and shop connections; These settlements were also not characterized by social disorganization and anomie.

Virtue definition of urbanism is often criticized also because outside the attention of urbanists were enclaves inside cities. But these enclaves are characterized by stable personal relationships of friendship and kinship, and the social order in them is established through kinship and neighborhood ties.

The views of L.Wirth were also criticized for the apparent universality of the social tendencies revealed by him. However, for example, in the cities of south-east Asia, the influence of population size and heterogeneity on the increase in the number of social deviations and psychological stress was not revealed.

However, the main direction of criticism is related to the fact that the "urban way of life" in fact - industrial, and therefore urbanization - not the cause of city life, but its effect.

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