Impact of Urbanization


Both developed and developing countries place a high value on urbanisation as a symbol of modernisation. Moreover, it is a process in which urban populations continue to grow, non-agricultural businesses concentrate and expand, and the composition of human society steadily changes. Economic development is fueled by urbanisation, which also affects societal values, production methods, and urban form. Yet, social fairness, general health, and the environment may all suffer as a result of urbanisation.

Urbanisation in Anthropology

The recent developments in the field of human culture are characterised by urbanisation. Different scholars have approached it in a variety of ways, each reflecting the focus and interests of their respective fields. According to Champion, some scholars view urbanisation as a growing area of land that is being developed for urban use, whereas other scholars see urbanisation as a sociological process in which individuals acquire the attitudes and behaviours that are typically associated with life in cities or urban areas, regardless of where they may be living. Yet, the majority of academics agree that it reflects the highest stage of sociocultural evolution that humans have yet reached.

Impact of Urbanisation

Economic development is fueled by urbanisation, which also affects societal values, production methods, and urban form. Some of the positive impacts of urbanisation are −

  • Urbanisation creates different employment opportunities.

  • Urbanisation allows exchange of information.

  • People living in urban areas or close to urban areas can take advantage of technological advancements and building of various infrastructures.

  • With more investment in technological development conditions of healthcare and education are likely to improve making the urban area more livable.

  • Standards of living are mostly high in urban areas due to systematic availability of resources.

Yet, certain elements like social fairness, general health, and the environment may all suffer as a result of urbanisation. To maintain urban progress and enhance human settlements, it is essential to take advantage of urbanisation's good impacts while minimising its negative ones. Hence, some of the negative impacts of urbanisation are −

  • The ecosystem has been significantly impacted by the excessive exploitation of natural resources, notably of land.

  • Problems of urban space, housing, traffic congestion and pollution are common in urban areas.

  • Urbanisation is also a process of cultural transformation in which the prevalent culture of the village gets replaced by the dominating culture of the city.

Urban Anthropology

One of the more recently created subfields of socio-cultural anthropology is urban anthropology. Kemper and Rollwagen claim that Urban Anthropology is what urban anthropologists do at its most basic level. Some anthropologists conduct research in specific cities, while not considering the urban context and others are interested in the urban environment and how it affects local and cross-cultural human behaviour. There are also others who are interested in the evolution of ‘global urban systems’ over a period of time and ‘space’ as distinct ‘social-cultural’ and ‘political-economic’ genres. Field research typically concentrates on rather small populations. Hence, urban anthropologists discuss and clarify why a specific community acts in a certain way.

By concentrating on the more sophisticated urbanites of the cities, urban anthropology takes a clear departure from the classic anthropological approach. Urban anthropology is the study of urban cultural systems and how they relate to other urban systems around the world, including larger and smaller areas and populations. Urban anthropology thus stresses ethnographic study of certain populations' their cultural environment and compares them with other populations' cultural systems. Hence, providing well-researched justifications for the activities and characteristics seen in those communities.

Urban anthropology places a greater emphasis on the methodical and in-depth analysis of urban cultural systems.


In theory, urbanisation is the most recent phase of civilisation. The emergence of cities is seen as a comparatively recent phenomenon in human society, made possible by a reliable food supply. People are relocating from rural to urban areas almost everywhere in the world. It is obvious that urbanisation has had both beneficial and negative consequences on the natural and geographical environments as well as human social conditions. Because of these factors, governments around the world should implement urban based policies and try to create a balance among the economy, society, and environment.


Q1. What do you understand by ethnography?

Ans. Ethnography is a ‘qualitative research technique’ that helps us to understand the world from a social science perspective. It is one of the primary methods of understanding cultural and social anthropology, besides being essential in the field of social science and humanities in general.

Q2. How is urban anthropology different from urban sociology?

Ans. While sociological studies tend to concentrate more on isolated problems, urban anthropology is theoretically more inclined towards a comprehensive approach. Urban anthropologists in the 1980s had broadened their concerns to examine every facet of urban life, in contrast to the 1960s and 1970s when they concentrated on specific topics like migrating, relationship among people, and poverty. Due to these reasons, urban anthropology was discussed quite frequently in relation to other social sciences.

Q3. Mention two negative impacts of urbanisation

Ans. Groundwater levels are steadily falling as a result of groundwater over-extraction and rapid urban growth. The difficulty of preventing floods is directly affected by ground subsidence. In addition, excessive groundwater extraction damages the environment severely, degrades the land, eliminates biodiversity, and threatens human life and sustainable development.

Updated on: 04-Apr-2023


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