How Cities Reflect Society

“To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities.”


One of the most important factors that defines a society is the variety within it. A society is not composed of people all from the same background, or following the same practices, and hence it is important to appreciate the variety in a society. Studying the major cities of any society can in this case prove very powerful in understanding what the major principles are that drive the society together.

A person is, to a large extent, defined by the region in which he lives and grows up. For example, in India, people who hail from the northern states differ in many characteristics from people who hail from the southern or eastern states. This is because through generations, different cultures have been imbibed in people. Nonetheless, studying major cities can help a lot, and the reason is this: People from all areas usually flock to the major cities of a society. Hence, if we pick up ten random people in a major city, it is highly probable that they actually belong to different areas of the society and show variegated traits depending on where they come from, for example, in the food they eat, or the clothes they wear. Also, it is important to remember that there will be some characteristics that will always remain uniform throughout all of them. For example in India, irrespective of where you hail from, touching the feet of elders is a sign of respect towards them. In Korea, bowing low is a custom that everyone practises, irrespective of which area they come from. Such habits are universal for everyone in the society, and so a major city could help us in noticing this.

However, every major city is not alike in all perspectives, and these small differences can help in knowing about the nitty-gritty details about the society. For example, the architecture of different cities can help us deduce the overall mentality that persists in a place. Open-minded people, for example, reflect their mentality in houses by building spacious constructions. Another example that comes to my mind is food. The staple diet of different major cities can help us know a lot about the people and the kind of livelihood that they have. For example, in an area with heavy rain, it is more common to see people consuming rice, compared to wheat. Hence, we might see people who are more active than others simply based on their diet. This is important because learning to recognize people according to where they hail from might be helpful in many cases. For example, if a person wants to open an agricultural industry, he would profit more if he hired people belonging to a particular area.

We might also find many differences within the same city. For example, there might be posh areas within the city, and slums on the outskirts. Learning the sentiments between these people, and whether or not religion plays a role in these sentiments, can play a major role in understanding any society. A secular society might at times face dominance by a certain set of people. Hence the different religions also play an important role. This is particularly visible in major cities where people from all parts of the society flock and work together, and it might be interesting to observe the amount of cooperation and competition between various sets of people.

Sometimes, major cities also impact the individual. Many preconceived notions of individuals are broken, and they themselves realize what their society has to offer them. Hence, it is not unusual to find radical changes in an individual after shifting to a major city. To conclude, I would agree with the fact that though major cities might not give an entire outlook, they succeed in giving a rough overview of the society. Studying its major cities can therefore help in understanding the similarities and differences between different sets of people, and how the society overall impacts the individual.

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