Urbanization before Cities: Lessons for Social Theory from the Evolution of Cities

  • Alexander Thomas SUNY College at Oneonta

Abstract

This article examines the role of the world-system in the structure of cities. Data from the evolution of cities in the Fertile Crescent shows that a number of traits of modern cities were also present in the earliest cities. Specifically, mass production, social differentiation and inequality, cultural mechanisms utilized for social control, and a tendency even a need for territorial expansion were all characteristic of ancient cities. Such characteristics of cities are rooted in the process of urbanization, understood here as the creation and maintenance of networks of economic and cultural exchange amongst communities in disparate regions. Citiesare understood as nodes in this system of exchange. It is argued that urbanization predatescities by thousands of years, and that the social dynamics arising from urbanization must be teased out of the data in order to understand cities better.
Published
2012-08-26
How to Cite
Thomas, A. (2012). Urbanization before Cities: Lessons for Social Theory from the Evolution of Cities. Journal of World-Systems Research, 18(2), 211-235. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2012.479
Section
General Section: Articles