Urban Sociology Term Paper Topics

Derived from the Latin word urbanus (meaning characteristic of, or pertaining to, the city), urban essentially holds that same connotation to most people. Yet varying criteria exist among the 195 countries in defining urban. These criteria include administrative function (national or regional capital), economic characteristics (most residents in non-agricultural occupations), functional nature (a developed infrastructure), and population size or density.

These twofold typologies dominated for much of the twentieth century with most studies, based on a spatial emphasis on the central city, examining different variables in comparison to non-urban areas. In recent decades, however, changing settlement patterns and the evolution of a global economy reduced the analytical value of this simplistic urban-rural dichotomy.


Originating in Paris in the 1820s, arcades were decorative passages or walkways through blocks of buildings. Glass-roofed and supported by ornate ironwork columns, arcades formed interior streets; sites of conspicuous consumption for the wealthy, and places of spectacle for the poor. Hemmed in by concession stands and eclectic emporia, arcade shop fronts offered the observer […]


Blockbusting was prohibited by the Civil Rights (Fair Housing) Act of 1968, which declared it an illegal practice ”for profit, to induce or attempt to induce housing sales ”by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of a particular race, color, religion, etc.” (Section 804[e]). Blockbusting practices […]

Built Environment

The built environment consists of all elements of the human-made physical environment. Commonly treated as wholly discrete from and in juxtaposition against the ”natural environment, Dunlap and Catton s (1983) distinction between the ”built, the ”modified, and the ”natural environments critically captures the intermediate and continuous possibilities between and among these divisions. Use of the […]

The Chicago School of Urban Sociology

The Chicago School of Urban Sociology refers to work of faculty and graduate students at the University of Chicago during the period 1915 to 1935. This small group of scholars (the full-time faculty in the department of sociology never numbered more than 6 persons) developed a new sociological theory and research methodology in a conscious […]

The City

Cities were a feature of all the great ancient civilizations. Relatively small by modern standards, they, nevertheless, facilitated a far more diverse range of activities than was possible in other forms of human settlement. The city and the urban way of life that accompanies it, however, inasmuch as they have interested sociologists, are of more […]


”Community” is concerned with people having something in common, although there is much debate about precisely what that thing is. The most conventional approach relates to people sharing a geographical area (typically a neighborhood), an idea captured in references to local communities. Place is central to such an understanding because of the assumption that people […]

Compositional Theory of Urbanism

At the heart of urban sociology is the question: what are the consequences of urban life? Compositional theory represents one of the first serious statements that countered the popular turn-of-the-century premise that cities were alienating. Compositional theories of urbanism assert that urban–rural differences in social problems are due mainly to social characteristics (i.e., class, race/ethnicity, […]

Ethnic Enclaves

The ethnic enclave is a sub-economy that offers protected access to labor and markets, informal sources of credit, and business information for immigrant businesses and workers. It presents a route for economic and social mobility by promoting positive returns on human capital for immigrants in the labor market. Ethnic enclaves of Latin American and Asian […]


Gentrification is the investment of commercial or residential capital in less affluent neighborhoods to encourage redevelopment for middle-and high-income inhabitants. Traditionally, the term gentrification” refers to the displacement of working class residents from inner-city zones and the gradual entry of new gentry” of well-off professionals. Early work explored the role of gentrification in accelerating the […]

Global/World Cities

The term ”global city” was popularized by sociologist Sassen in 1991; however, the origins of the discourse on global/world cities began decades before. Hall’s 1966 The World Cities was a pioneering study that investigated world cities in a broad context, including economics, demographics, culture, management, etc. He was among the first to define the role […]


During the 1980s and 1990s, scholarship on homelessness focused on documenting the growing number of people sleeping in public places or public and private shelters. Scholars debated the reasons why so many lacked access to conventional dwelling and puzzled over whom and how many people lived precariously, invisibly and sometimes illegally with friends and family. […]


Metropolis broadly refers to the largest, most powerful, and culturally influential city of an epoch or region. A succession of great metropolitan cities charts the course of western urban history. Two features of the metropolis are revealed in the etymology of its Greek origins (meter/mother + polis/city). As population forced some city states in antiquity […]

New Urbanism

New urbanism is an architectural and city planning approach that emphasizes communities that are compact, multi or mixed use, economically and socially diverse, and pedestrian and public transportation friendly. Its principles have been used to both revitalize existing neighborhoods and create new ones. New urbanism gained popularity as a planning approach in the 1980s as […]

Rural Sociology

Rural sociology grew out of the same historical era and ferment as sociology more broadly, but whereas the discipline from whence it sprang was rooted heavily in liberal arts colleges, rural sociology — in the USA — was heavily indebted institutionally to the rise of the land grant university. This was a uniquely US initiative, […]


In the USA, a city’s suburbs are the set of incorporated municipalities located outside the city’s political boundaries, but adjacent to the city or to its other suburbs. Suburbs form a band around the city that has lower population density overall than the city, but predominately urban land uses. ”Suburb” refers to this band of […]


Derived from the Latin word urbanus (meaning characteristic of, or pertaining to, the city), urban essentially holds that same connotation to most people. Yet varying criteria exist among the 195 countries in defining urban. These criteria include administrative function (national or regional capital), economic characteristics (most residents in non-agricultural occupations), functional nature (a developed infrastructure), […]

Urban Ecology

Urban ecology is the study of community structure and organization as manifest in cities and other relatively dense human settlements. Of particular concern is the dynamic evolution of cities and contrast in urban structure across time periods, societies, and urban scale. The notion of community is central to urban ecology; a premise of the ecological […]

Urban Policy

Urban policy is best understood as the cluster of policies that are aimed at influencing the development of cities and the lives of those living in cities, although this can only be the starting point in exploring its meaning. It is not possible to generate any clear cut or simple definition that makes it easy […]

Urban Political Economy

One of sociology’s foundational questions has been: How does the city shape social life? The answer provided by urban political economy is: As a mechanism in the accumulation of wealth, with all the power and inequality that result. An interdisciplinary paradigm, urban political economy localizes and spatializes the concerns of ”political economy,” the broader field […]

Urban Poverty

The study of urban poverty attempts to understand the roots of urban dilemmas such as crime and delinquency, single motherhood, unemployment, and low education. The causes and consequences of spatially concentrated poverty and the intergenerational transmission of poverty are core questions. The sociological study of urban poverty dates back to W. E. B. Du Bois’s […]