The Term and Concept - Urbanicity

Definition: Urbanicity - The degree to which a geographical unit is urban.

Definitions of other urban terms have been varied and confused. The term urbanism has meant several things and ideas, but Louis Wirth was most influential defining urbanism as a condition typified by a loss of tradition and close family ties and so much social and spatial mobility that people lose all of the goodness of the folk community. Though some theorists challenged the negativism of the view, we all agree that urbanism is a way of life, one that is characteristic of the city, especially the large city or the bulk city.

The Bulk Cities

The Bulk Cities is a term that I brought to English-speaking scholars in 2002 as I prepared the the manuscript for my book, The Urban Community, (publisher: Prentice Hall, 2004.)

Definition: The bulk city is a central city that has at least 100,000 people.

The bulk city is not a metropolis nor is it a metropolitan area or a Metropolitan Statistical Area. The bulk city is what Georg Simmel talked about, what he had in mind when he wrote his famous work, "The Bulk Cities and Mental Life." I directly translate the German Die Grosstädte into The Bulk Cities.

The term urbanization has meant a variety of shades of meaning, mainly of two sorts. One sort, the sociological, defines urbanization as a move from rural toward that which is of the city including such things as industrialization. One demographic view uses urbanization to mean the growing numerical dominance of the city vis-a-vis the small town and the purely rural. Another view is to use the percent of an area's population that is urban. Percent urban is a crude measure commonly producing the specter of a high percent urban in an area with hardly any urban units except for one bulk city far to one side.

Both urbanism and urbanization are quite related to city size but not necessarily to ecological distribution: Neither urbanism nor urbanization captures the notion of the social and economic dominance of the city in a spatial area: is the whole area populated, working and feeling urban? Thus urbanicity fills in the terminological gap.

The term and the concept of urbanicity become precise with knowledge of the measure, The Index of Urbanicity.

Copyright W. Allen Martin, 2004.