Social Effects of Urbanization

Urbanization is the gradual shift of population from rural to urban areas and the resulting increasing proportion of a population that resides in urban rather than rural places. The social effects of urbanization are summarized as follows:

Urbanization and Family

  • Urbanization has affected family structure; intra and interfamily relations as well as functions of the family.
  • The urban joint families are being gradually replaced by nuclear families. Sizes of the families are shirking and kinship relationships are getting confided to two or three generations only.
  • Despite of changes in the family structure, the spirit of individualism is not growing. Further, the husband dominated family is being replaced by equalitarian family where wife is given a share in decision making process.
  • Parents no longer impose their authority over children and children no longer blindly obey the commands of their parents. Even in joint families, the eldest male consults with children and this consultation is not formal.

Urbanization and Caste

  • With urbanization and education development, the cast identity and caste pride has diminished. The networks of urbanites comprise people from all castes. Instead, class ties are more important than caste ties.
  • At the same time, educated members of some of the caste groups come in together to make some kinds of pressure groups in urban areas. However, such pressure groups work like a social organization instead of caste structures in villages. Such groups also bring several sub-castes together.
  • The caste norms are not followed strictly in urban areas. There is a remarkable change in commensal, marital, social and occupational relations. More and more people are in favour of inter-caste marriage.
  • Jajmani system is weakening and inter-caste and inter-class relations are changing.

Urbanization and Status of Women

  • The status of women in urban areas is higher in comparison to rural areas; and they are comparatively more educated and liberal. They are not only aware of their economic, social and political rights but also are able to exercise those rights.
  • Average age of marriage of girls is higher in cities.
  • There is a change observed in the working patterns of individuals in the urban set up. The participation rate in the labour market has increased among married women and they no longer are ‘housewives’. However, urban women still face discrimination in labour market and face discrimination and have limited range of occupations. Still cities of India have low female labour force participation rate.
  • Some peculiar problems faced by urban women include – difficulty to remain single; expected to subordinate career to that of husbands etc.
  • Higher frequency of divorce and remarriage.
  • More women are socially and politically active, hold important political positions and possess independent political ideologies.
  • In summary, while rural women continue to be dependent over men, urban women are independent and enjoy greater freedom.

Urbanization and Village Life

  • Urban development has led to the centrifugal movement of village people to urban areas. Most people migrate to cities for employment and business. At the same time, rural residence and urban employment has resulted in a new type of lifestyle in rural-urban fringe areas. It has resulted in modifications of social patterns as well as adjustments to a new way of life. The rural people are influenced by urban life and don’t lay undue emphasis on caste, creed, etc. Thus, more and more liberal approach is seen in village people.

Urbanization as an agent of transformation and innovation

  • Cities are nodes of new ideas, communication and innovation. It spreads in immediate hinterlands as well as in the whole country, through sustained urban-rural links.
  • In Asia, cities have been termed the “centre of change”. This is largely due to migrants returning home for short while from urban areas and spreading awareness among rural villages, encouraging them to adopt some innovations already witnessed in urban areas. This also helps in improved health and housing, positive changes of attitudes, aspirations, behaviour and personal relationships.
  • All these transmissions and innovations have a lot to contribute. Firstly, improving the quality of life of urban populations and, secondly, to enhancing the catalytic role of urban centres in rural transformation and development. The sustained urban-rural links is an important pipeline for development of rural areas.

Role of urbanization in expansion of communication mechanisms

  • The most important role of major cities is their linking of different parts of the world through transport and communications. Air routes, road and rail networks, telephone, and E-mail networks are the main transport and communication mechanisms that have revolutionized the concepts of time and distance throughout the world.
  • Improved facilities help to expand international trade, enhanced international travel and communication, and contributed significantly to national and regional development.

Cities as fountains of scientific and technical knowledge

  • Cities are considered to be fountain of scientific and technological knowledge which produces innovations intended for modernization and development of cities as well as the whole nation State.
  • Cities are “engines of development”, which have attracted human resources, unskilled labour and raw materials which ultimately leads to industrialization, commercialization and all forms of desirable elements of development.

Problems of Urbanization

The main problems associated with urbanization include urban sprawl; housing & slums; crowding & depersonalization; water-supply & drainage, urban floods, transportation & traffic; power shortage; sanitation, pollution, urban heat island etc. Further, the other social problems associated with urbanization include crimes; juvenile delinquency; begging, alcoholism and drugs problem; corruption; urban ghettoes etc.