AskDefine | Define urbanism

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the culture or way of life of people who live in cities
  2. urbanization

Extensive Definition

This article is about the study of cities. For the similarly named record company, see Urbanizm Music.
Urbanism is the study of cities — their geographic, economic, political, social and cultural environment, and the imprint of all these forces on the built environment. Urbanism is also the practice of creating human communities for living, work, and play, covering the more human aspects of urban planning. Urbanists define urban areas by their high population density. They maintain that this characteristic makes cities physically and sociologically distinct from rural areas.
Some scholars initially rejected the notion that there were any significant differences between the social and political order between the rural or urban, hence there was no point in a specifically 'urban studies'. However, this debate has been largely resolved. It is widely accepted that cities do exist in a fundamentally distinct state from rural areas, and that the world population is increasingly living in urbanized areas. The world urban/rural population distribution provides evidence for this, and since 2007, at least 50% of the population has been living in urban environments. The importance of the interaction between the urban and rural is also studied, along with the importance of the hinterland.
In the contemporary world this hinterland is less easily defined due to communications technology, but in pre-industrial, agrarian societies, it would have been much more evident that the city cannot exist without a hinterland to supply it. This, however, assumes that such an agrarian society thought within the same framework as the modern, and in many cases (such as that of the Roman Empire or ancient Greece) this can be seen to be untrue; The Roman and Greek municipium or polis can be seen to be a social, political and economic entity consisting of "urban" centre and hinterland.
Having established that cities are genuinely distinct from rural areas, scholars have studied cities according to several dimensions: the internalist perspectives which looks at spatial and social order within a city, externalist perspectives which views cities as stable points or nodes in the wider globalizing space of networks and flows, and the interstitial perspective which attempts to reconcile the two perspectives: by trying to understand how globalizing flows and external forces influence, and are influenced by, the social, temporal and spatial ordering of a city. Amin and Graham (1997) argue in The Ordinary City that the urbanscape can best be understood as a site of co-presence of multiple spaces, multiple times and multiple webs of relations, tying local sites, subjects and fragments into globalizing networks of economic, social and cultural change.


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Further reading

  • Scape Magazine ’Scape is the new international magazine for landscape architecture and urbanism.
urbanism in Breton: Kersavouriezh
urbanism in Catalan: Urbanisme
urbanism in Czech: Urbanismus
urbanism in Welsh: Cynllunio tref
urbanism in German: Urbanität
urbanism in Spanish: Urbanismo
urbanism in Basque: Urbanismo
urbanism in French: Urbanisme
urbanism in Georgian: ქალაქგეგმარება
urbanism in Luxembourgish: Urbanismus
urbanism in Limburgan: Urbanisme
urbanism in Dutch: Planologie
urbanism in Japanese: アーバニズム
urbanism in Polish: Urbanistyka
urbanism in Portuguese: Urbanismo
urbanism in Russian: Урбанизм (архитектура)
urbanism in Serbian: Урбанизам
urbanism in Chinese: 城市规划
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