On Tuesday’s class we discussed Max Weber’s definition of a city; the city is a settlement where the inhabitants move away from an agrarian society to an urbanized one in which they transition into a life that flourishes from trade and commerce rather than agriculture. A city is made up of three key points that we agreed upon in class: a market which generates trade and commerce; a political-administrative with at least partial autonomy (controls government and law); a fortress or garrison which allows for a defensive military function; and an interconnectedness of these activities in a city to allow for it to function. An example of a symbiotic relationship we discussed was between a City’s military and it’s market. This relationship functions because each party benefits from the other where the Military provided protection and a consumer for the markets products, whereas the market supplied goods and also taxable persons providing further funds for the city.
Further questions could be invoked from our discussions in this course like whether this definition can applied to all cities; can our modern day city be defined by Weber’s ideas; what is missing or dated about weber’s definition of a city. All these questions were answered in class, and the general consensus is that the city has evolved from Weber’s definition while also maintain some of the core elements. I chose to focus on what could be added to Max Weber’s original definitions because I found the additions to be multi-faceted where they could define today’s cities or not. Architecture, Culture, numerical and spatial factors, and the ability to provide activities or fulfill people’s desires are all important options that could fit the definition but were arguably not appropriate.
The Cultural aspect would provide a distinction between urban life versus rural since in today’s society one can order things online whereas arts must be seen and are therefore irreplaceable. An example is that a person can not order or view certain aspects of art which are essential to culture like the opera, plays, art exhibits, and more. Arguably, this could provide a negative connotation towards a city because Culture is very subjective and therefore cannot be applied to all.
The Numerical or Spatial element could also differentiate a city from a village. Further into our discussion, however, more observations provided a clear disassociation with this element as part of Weber’s definition. When comparing the population factor, refuge camps have the same population as large metropolitan areas but are distinctly different from each other because of the conditions within the two areas. These poorer nations also can be quite grand in space but it is because they must travel larger distances to acquire their resources. We can also look into the history of the city back in Europe and compare the population, which was small, but did not prevent this area from becoming labeled as a city. A key characteristic that helped define these ancient cities was the machinery and the specializations that their markets provided that drew people to it and therefore a minimum population could possibly be applied but not a maximum.
The last few comments we discussed in class touched on a few added points that could be added to the definition. Along with the specialties that these ancient markets provided that drew people to cities there was the question of whether a city provides activities and fulfill desires and was apparently proposed by Weber in a separate definition. There is also the architectural structure that a city has that elevates it from a township or rural community.
To sum up this class we mainly focused on Weber’s definition of the city, added to it with our own ideas, deconstructed his to apply it to Modern cities, and discussed if it does apply to our cities. We found that it could be applied to our modern cities, but they needed to be revamped by altering the language to fit appropriately. What I mean by this is that a garrison has evolved to our Nations Army and our markets have grew into grander shopping malls. Just as our cities have evolved from Weber’s times, so must his definition grow to fit these modern times.