Comparison between the Early Chicago School and the Socio-Spatial Approach to Urban

Chicago School of Sociology Approach

The Chicago School approach was a practical trial by sociologists to use their theoretical ideologies in laboratory. The school has the credit of the earlier existence since the 1920s and 1930s. Since then, it has been dealing with urban sociology and research of metropolitan areas by combining theory and cultural framework in Chicago, currently applied globally. The university is well known for its urban sociology and growth of symbolic integration approach. It bases its ideas on human behavior through social structures and physical environmental factors, as opposed to genetic and personal characteristics.

The school researchers believed that the natural environment inhabits a major factor in shaping human character. Also, it believes that the city functions as a microcosm as opposed to the biologists and anthropologists’ view and the evolution theory that demonstrates that animals adapt to their environments. Analogically, individuals undergo succession steps while the community that an individual inhabited continues to develop and attain better features.

The research concentrates on the city of Chicago that was perceived as an object of study by the university members. The researchers intended to prove whether it is as a result of urbanization that led to increasing in both social migration and social evils. Chicago was initially a hygienic place and vacant physical conditions. It was once a small town with a relatively low population. As days went by, there was a great development with the population growing at a higher rate as a result of rapid increase in immigrants leading to poor housing conditions, homelessness and poor ergonomics accompanied with low wages and long working hours.

The Chicago School aimed at developing tools for research purposes that would then help in changing the society through directing social intervention agencies and urban planning. It acknowledged that urban development was greatly affected by community-level forces, such as zoning ordinances, land values, circulation corridors, historical contingency and landscape features. It is ecologically characterized as exterior factors arisen from the natural forces in the surrounding environment, which hinder the adaptive spatial and temporal relationships among individuals in the community. The School sought to extract patterns from a study of methods, rather than to apply methods to already existing patterns.

Socio-Spatial Approach

Socio-spatial perspective bases its major focus on real estate development as the key directive towards development in urban centers. This view considers government and political intervention as a principal factor in metropolitan development. Moreover, socio-spatial view recognizes the role of culture as important in comprehending metropolitan life. In addition, this approach considers global view of urban development as the effect of global economic changes.

The most distinguishing feature of socio-spatial approach is that it incorporates a number of different facts that account for metropolitan development and change. It focuses on providing a balanced view of both push and pull factors in urban and regional growth. Socio-spatial approach is one of new urban sociology, which focuses on social problems and inequalities. It is considered to be a response of some sociologists to the traditional, natural environmental research of Chicago School.

New urban sociology concepts include a shift to a global perspective on capitalism and the metropolis. Such factors as social class exploitation, racism, gender, and space are included in the study of metropolitan development. These are an attempt to integrate economic, political, and cultural factors of the study and multi-centered regional approach to the cities and suburbs. In addition to changes in approach, a new urban sociology involves changes in the way social environments analyzed.

Urban sociology is based on beliefs that societies were organized around in a manner that there were integrated systems of economics, politics and culture. Moreover, the social problems facing the society were as a result of breakdown of traditional society, and the dynamics of capitalism.

Comparison between the Chicago School of Sociology Approach and the Socio-spatial Approach on Urban Sociology

On the similarity, both methods aim at developing tools for research purposes that would then help in changing the society through directing social intervention agencies and urban planning. Secondly, both acknowledge that urban problems have arisen from metropolitan development that was accompanied with higher population growth in the areas of research. Both approaches aim at solving social urban problems as propelled by heightened criminology in urban areas.

On the other hand, there are differences in both ideology and methodology used between the two methods. First, Chicago school concentrated its research on Chicago City only, while socio-spatial approach devotes global attention to the research. The Chicago school acknowledged that the urban development was quite greatly affected by community-level forces. While socio-spatial approach bases its major focus on the real estate development as the key directive towards development in urban centers. The socio-spatial approach considers government and political intervention as a principal factor in metropolitan development. While Chicago School believed that the natural environment inhabits the major part in shaping human character.

Chicago School approach puts attention on scientific and environmental facts, whereas the socio-spatial approach bases its research on the physical and social factors affecting urban centers, such as government intervention. Socio-spatial approach incorporates a number of different facts that account for metropolitan development and change, while the Chicago School approach concentrates on environmental interrelationship with individuals in the community. Socio-spatial approach is considered as a response by some sociologists to the traditional natural environmental research of Chicago School. On the other hand, the work of Chicago ecological theorists showed affinity to the new urban sociology.

Environmental Health from Historical Perspective Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875 by Barbara Novak
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