The main trends in the process of urbanization in the modern world

UDC 332.1, 338.2
Publication date: 21.06.2018
International Journal of Professional Science №2-2018

The main trends in the process of urbanization in the modern world

Sher M.L., Shevchenko O.P., Mironov L.V.
1. Sher Marina Leonidovna
PhD Economic Sciences, Associate Professor, Associate Professor of the Department of Economics, SKF FGBOU VO "Russian State University of Justice"
Krasnodar.
2. Shevchenko Olga Pavlovna
PhD Economics
Associate professor of economics department
Kuban State Agrarian University by I.T. Trubilin
Krasnodar.
3. Mironov Leonid Valerievitch
2-st year magistracy student of Pedagogy, Psychology and Communication Studies faculty, Federal State Educational Establishment "Kuban State University", Krasnodar
Abstract: This article is devoted to the issues and problems of urbanization and the population of megacities in modern society, as well as the development of urbanized urban agglomerations
Keywords: urbanization, metropolis, agglomeration, ecological problems


In recent years there has been a surge in the development of megacities. Urbanization is one of the global problems, despite the fact that it is a historical process that covers changes in the distribution of productive forces, and primarily in the resettlement of the population, its demographic, social and professional structure, way of life and culture.

Urbanization is a historical process of increasing the role of cities, urban lifestyle and urban culture in the development of society, associated with the spatial concentration of activities in relatively few centers and areas of preferential socio-economic development [15, p.16].

Specifying this definition, which has become too general from the standpoint of modern georbanistics, two important points should be added to it:

   1. Wide exit of the city for its official (becoming too tight) borders and the formation of post-city urban systems — agglomerations, urbanized areas, megacities;

   2. A significant change in the person himself in the city, bearing in mind the growing diversity of needs, increasing demands on quality, level and lifestyle, changing the system of values, norms of behavior, culture, intelligence, etc.

The term «urbanization» appeared for the first time in foreign literature in 1867 in Spain, in Russian — in 1957 (in the translation of the «Report on the World Social Situation» of the United Nations). More regularly this term began to be used in the Soviet scientific literature since the late 1960s. a century later than the first time abroad, but often the phenomenon itself was assessed negatively. Therefore, in studying the process of urbanization, especially at the first stages — soviet science lagged far behind the West [15, 16].

Urbanization as a complex, dynamic, multifaceted process is the subject of interdisciplinary research. Representatives of different sciences, and sometimes even of one science, have their own vision of this process. Therefore, there is still no single generally accepted definition of urbanization.

Bearing in mind the different content that is embedded in the understanding of urbanization, two types of its definition are proposed:

   1. Urbanization in the narrow sense means the growth of cities, especially large ones, an increase in the proportion of the urban population;

   2. In a broad sense — the historical process of increasing the role of cities, urban lifestyle and urban culture in the development of the city.

Much of the ambiguity in the understanding of urbanization has been greatly contributed to the multifaceted nature of the process, encompassing a variety of problems and aspects of urban development: social, economic, demographic, ethnic, cultural, etc.

The essence of urbanization is the process of the development of large cities (over 100 thousand inhabitants) and the large agglomerations and extensive urbanized areas that are formed on their basis, which are the main focuses of territorial development and the main bearers of the properties and characteristics of modern urbanization. Therefore, only when city processes are considered in a wider territorial framework than the city, using an agglomeration, an urbanized area and other urban systems, get an idea of ​​the true scale of modern urbanization (Figure 1).

Picture 1. Urbanization complex

The special importance of studying urbanization is explained by the fact that it is the resultant process that shapes the relationship between man, society and the environment. The most important result, the measure of urbanization, is now increasingly recognized by the person himself with the growth of his capabilities, abilities and creativity in the context of the spread of the urban value system on a global scale.

Urbanization creates a complicated knot of contradictions, the totality of which just serves as a strong argument for considering it from the perspective of globalization. You can highlight the economic, environmental, social and territorial aspects (last selected is rather arbitrary, as it combines all the previous). The economic aspect is that if earlier the industry concentration gave an additional effect ( «agglomeration effect») due to a combination of opportunities and cooperation, the use of over-concentration, then later to the fore were the negative aspects: traffic jams cities, water and energy supply difficulties, problems of ecology, social problems associated with underdeveloped infrastructure.

Increasing concern air and water pollution, soil erosion, damage to the animal and vegetable world during the development of a number of areas, not enough land use, oil, gas and coal, ores and other mineral or metal fossils. With the expansion of demand, the demand for various types of raw materials is growing. At the same time, many natural resources, although great, are by no means limitless. By solving problems of rational use of land resources and the environment depends health condition, working conditions and living standards, as well as the economic development of society.

In the process of urbanization, there are three stages:

   ◊ The first (initial) phase covers mainly the 20-50s. XX century. After the revolution of 1917, the urbanization of the country acquired a turbulent character, and the driving basis for it was the development of industry and related functions. This period is characterized by an increase in the number of cities. According to the 1939 census there were 1114 cities in the period from 1926 to 1937, the share of townspeople increased twofold (from 18 to 33%).

   ◊ The second phase is in the second half of the 20th century. This stage is characterized by intensive industrial development of the country in the post-war years. For him it is typical not just to accelerate the growth rates of the urban population, but also the emergence of such new qualitative parameters as the predominant growth of large cities, the formation of urban agglomerations, the spread of urban lifestyle to rural areas, etc. In total during this period (1950-90s. ), the number of cities increased from 877 to 1037 (according to census data, respectively, in 1959-1989), that is, 1.2 times, and the proportion of the urban population increased from 45% to 74% (according to the 1951-1990 census), then there are 1.6 times. Particularly quickly the share of townspeople and the number of cities grew until 1981, then the growth rate slightly decreased. The share of Russian cities in the USSR is 50%. It declines in 1979-89. The share of the urban population of Russia in the USSR is also highlighted. Here it is 60%, but there is a decrease in the proportion of Russian citizens in the USSR 79-89 years. XX century, as well as the share of cities. Thus, about 50% of cities and 60% of the urban population of Russia is allocated to the USSR.

   ◊ Finally, the third stage in time corresponds to the 1990s. Since 1993, the growth in the number of cities has ceased. There is a tendency to decrease the number of urban population: in 1993 — 108.5 million people, in 2000 — 106.1 million people. The proportion of citizens was 73.3% and 73.1%, respectively. The increase in urban population in the intercensal years 1989-1997 amounted to — 0.8%. This stage in Russia is referred to as the «Russian cross». After the economic recovery — the population of the cities began to grow again, and after it began an almost uncontrollable process of urbanization, which began to spread even to small settlements. By now, this process has become more in line with the traditional urbanization criteria, becoming similar to the European (Figure 2)

Picture 2. Stages of urbanization

In the conditions of the modern scientific and technological revolution, one of the root problems of social development is associated with the growing threat of imbalances between man and nature. The historical process of world industrialization and urbanization exerts an ever-increasing influence on the ecological situation, reflecting the character of the relationship of a person with his environment at a particular time period. Researchers argue that the widespread distribution of urbanism can lead to a general violation of the equation between man and nature, if the planning does not take into account the limitations inherent in the biological order of man and in geographical conditions.

Features of modern urbanization (rest at picture 3):

— intensification and differentiation of urban activities in cities and agglomerations;

— the spread of urban lifestyle outside of urban centers;

— development of agglomerations;

— formation of linear, nodal, strip forms of population settlement;

— increase in the radius of settlement within the agglomerations.

Picture 3. Characteristics of urbanization

In modern science, global processes can be represented, firstly, as encompassing the whole world and, secondly, as systemic phenomena that permeate the entire life activity of man.

The global nature and universality of the modern process of urbanization have deep historical roots. They are manifested in our time on two levels:

   1. On the philosophical-worldview (interdisciplinary). Urbanization belongs to one of the first places among the global problems of our time, since it is in the city, as a focus, that most of the world’s problems are concentrated and prospects for the development of mankind are determined. Therefore, urbanization in many ways determines the development of the earthly civilization with the time of the appearance of the ancient city and to our days.

   2. On the problem. Urbanization in today’s highly contradictory and differentiated world is characterized by the following common main problems:

       ◊ the conflict between intensively expanding urbanized areas and the resources of cultivated agricultural land, forest land, etc., necessary to maintain a balance between nature and society;

       ◊ the cultural and economic conflict between urban and rural areas, the degradation of the economy and the demographic condition of the rural population under the influence of expanding urbanization;

      ◊ the conflict between the explosive danger of an increasing formally urban population and clearly not the urban level (for a significant part) of its culture and consciousness, the insufficient preparedness of the production and service sectors for such rapid urban growth; this is the problem of the so-called pseudo-or false, urbanization that began in the mid-1930s. in USSR;

      ◊ conflict of socio-cultural and socio-ethnic character within urbanized areas as a result of sharply increased property and other differences between the so-called old and new inhabitants of cities, due to the replenishment of low-skilled labor at the expense of emigrants [20, c.18].

Urbanization is a process deeply spatial, concentrated and distinctly expressed with its projection on the territory, mapping. In the course of evolution there is an expansion of the areas of the urbanized environment and their qualitative change.

The spatial evolution of modern urbanization is characterized by the following significant features:

   1. concentration, intensification, differentiation and diversity of urban types of activities (functions), and more recently and increasingly in agriculture in the suburban areas of major centers;

   2. Distribution outside the centers and urbanized areas of the urban way of life with a special communication structure, culture, value orientation system;

   3. Development of large urban agglomerations, urbanized areas and zones as a result of enhanced interconnections in settlement systems;

   4. complication of forms and systems of urbanized settlement: the transition from point and linear — to nodal, bandpass, etc .;

  5. Increase the radius of settlement within the agglomerations and urbanized areas associated with places of employment, recreation areas, etc., and causing territorial growth of urban systems; accordingly there is an increase in the areas of highly urbanized areas due to the expansion of old and the emergence of new foci of urbanization [15, p.16].

For the spatial development of urbanization, the transformation of a network of urban settlements into settlement systems, the differentiation of urban space, the involvement of new territories in the sphere of influence of cities of various types and rank, and the expansion of the areas of the urbanized environment are further characterized.

When determining the nature of the urbanization of a country or area, the concepts of urban structure and territorial-urban structure are used. The urban structure is the ratio of settlements of different sizes (population) in the total number of them, the total population. Under the territorial-urban structure is understood the relationship and the mutual location of territories, which are peculiar:

   1. Development of urbanization in breadth (development of new cells) or deep (complication of forms and patterns of settlement);

   2. Expression and pattern of the network of supporting urban centers;

   3. The degree of maturity of urban agglomerations;

   4. Spatial differentiation of regional urban systems.

Urbanization is a comprehensive process, it encompasses not only the urban but, increasingly, the countryside in the territorial plan, largely determining its transformation — demographic, social, economic, spatial, etc. This is why many rural problems (mobility, change structure of the rural population, depopulation) are very closely associated with urbanization. Cities have a multifaceted impact on the surrounding rural areas, gradually «reworking» it, reducing the size of the countryside. As a result, there is a rapid development of the suburbs of large cities — suburbanization (literally «urbanization of suburbs»). At the same time, some urban conditions and norms of life are being introduced into rural settlements, i.e., urbanization (rural urbanization). The urbanization of rural areas also leads to qualitative changes in rural areas: non-agricultural occupations of the rural population are growing, pendulum migration is increasing, especially in cities and suburban zones of large centers, the socio-professional and demographic structure of rural residents, their way of life, the level of improvement of rural settlements, etc. Large zones of gravitation of large centers are formed, in which close and direct links between the city and the countryside are formed.

According to experts, there is a real danger that human society can emerge from the permissible framework of its interaction with the environment in the not so distant future (approximately to the middle of the next century), ie. due to environmental pollution, the impact of industrial heat transfer on the climate and other processes, the ecological balance can seriously deteriorate, and some non-renewable natural resources can be depleted. Although this statement of the issue can not be considered proved at present, the tense ecological situation already observed in the largest urban agglomerations, characteristic of the capitalist countries, can serve as a serious warning for humanity. Preservation of the global balance between man and nature, prevention of a possible world ecological crisis depends to a decisive degree on the degree of mankind’s organization on scientific social foundations, on its ability to regulate its relations with the natural environment.

The problem of the ratio of natural resources to the population, naturally, is associated not only with the growth of production, but also with the increase in population. The bulk of this increase falls on developing countries, experiencing an acute shortage of food, means of production, financial resources.

The information age has made people more aware. This allows people to organize themselves more easily to overthrow dictatorships. This, in turn, often allows governments to introduce more stringent practices and deal with their own citizens (Picture 4)[1].

Picture 4.  Ratio of urban and rural populations around the world

 (Источник: World Urbanization Prospects The 2014 Revision)

The ratio of the dynamics of population growth and economic resources is connected with the solution of social and economic problems. At the same time, in modern conditions, palliative measures to improve the «population — resources» relationship can be measures to prevent the growth of population in the third world, conducted on the basis of state sovereignty and respect for the rights of the family.

Along with the general growth of the population, more and more serious problems of nature management are put forward by the concentration of the population in large cities. The crisis of cities has become one of the brightest manifestations of the global crisis. The problems of urbanization are inherently social in nature. State measures should be implemented centrally to combat urban pollution. Voluntary migration (migration) of the population is stimulated in the directions corresponding to the needs of economic development and ecological balance. The general perspective consists in the formation of a unified settlement system, built on the optimal consideration of the requirements of the economy, the need to preserve the cleanliness of the environment, creating the most favorable conditions for work and leisure for people.

In recent years, both in our country and in the West, a new scientific trend has begun to develop — the pathology of urbanization. The concept of «pathology» can be interpreted in two ways. In colloquial speech — this is a way of behavior, which is a deviation from the existing norms of law and morality. The term «social pathology» is given a broader meaning. A whole list of pathologies can be presented on this problem: economically motivated conflicts, such as a strike; criminality, other deviations from morality; alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, prostitution, suicide, mental illness, family breakdown; corruption, etc. As can be seen, social pathology encompasses a wide and diverse spectrum of phenomena, and it is not always possible to determine which of these are manifestations and which are the causes of the disease. It is quite obvious that without a clear division into causes and effects, no hypothesis can be satisfactory.

These pathologies are observed both in cities and in the countryside, however they are more typical for cities, as the urban environment is more convenient for their distribution.

Actually urban pathology includes only those phenomena that are generated by this way of organizing space. Thus, urban pathology includes housing problems, pollution of the environment, poor transport performance, poor functioning of the technical infrastructure, poor quality of service, etc.

All these types of urban pathology proper have their own way of organizing space with such consequences as harm to health, a reduced ability to work or the impossibility of a more complete reproduction of social structures, as well as social disorganization and the deviations resulting from it or even criminal behavior.

Thus, the roots of the pathology of the city are seen in the most modern «urban organization» of a society that is not sufficiently adapted to solve problems of human life. In different social systems these problems are solved in different ways.

The pathologies of the city include both the social pathology in the city, and the actual urban pathology itself.

To determine the pathology of urbanization, it is necessary to:

1) define what urbanization is;

2) develop a model of urbanization, considered «normal»;

3) determine the pathology of urbanization as a deviation from the norm.

Urbanization can be considered normal when it remains within a certain relationship with the processes of industrialization. There are three possible development options, wherein options b) and c) can be defined as a «pathological situation»:

   1. a) both processes correspond to each other;

   2. b) urbanization goes ahead of industrialization;

   3. c) Urbanization can not keep up with industrialization.

Overindustrialization and insufficient urbanization occur when the main, if not the only, factor in economic growth is industry, where major capital investments have been sent for a long period of time. This means a rapid increase in the number of industrial workers, the proportion of which is gradually becoming higher than the proportion of city residents. In this case, there is a transfer of labor from agriculture to industry without actual relocation of the population from village to town.

Priority is given to the development of industry, so there is not enough money for urban development. Excessive industrialization is a situation in which the priority of production dominates the simple and expanded reproduction of the labor force.

Adopting a strategy of competition (between the interests of production and the city) first brings profit to individual economic units of society, but inevitably leads to losses affecting all involved in this strategy. When a certain level of industrialization is exceeded, the damage caused by environmental pollution becomes relatively higher than the profit from industrial production. Along with the damage to the surrounding environment, there will also be losses due to the increased cost of inefficiently operating transport and inadequate reproduction of the working capacity of residents of areas of excessive industrialization.

The question arises:

— To what extent is the pathology of urbanization the result of the syndrome of the urban-industrial civilization in general and in what way is it the result of specific processes of industrialization?

— How much does it depend on individual communities, political systems, city politicians?

The main problems in the pathology of urbanization and urban structures: underdevelopment of cities, the housing problem, the consequences of the division of cities into functional zones, the syndrome of perception of block complexes.

Each socio-economic system organizes space in its inherent way, establishing a relation to the space of both individuals and social groups. This organization can be shown as follows: primary space — secondary; personal — public; central — non-central; ritual — secular.

Each system establishes relationships within and between each pair. The harmonious nature of these relations determines the order of space and society.

Primary space — the apartment and its immediate surroundings (environment, neighbors) — should be large enough and well adapted to the needs of the person. Users should be able to influence the way it functions and organizes. Secondary space is formed in accordance with the criteria of rationality and efficiency. It imposes some restrictions on users and imposes a certain type of behavior. There must be certain proportions between the primary and secondary spaces. One of the pathologies of urban structures is the destruction of proportions between primary and secondary space (the offensive of the secondary to the primary and the resistance of individuals).

The minimum condition for the proper development of the individual and society is the establishment of a variety of numerous and informal ties and the possession of a space with qualitative properties that make it possible to assimilate it and provide the opportunity for the creative formation of its environment; apartments and territories around it. This hypothesis is confirmed by the spontaneous behavior of people and communities, directed against technical and economic forces, whose desire is to unify both the living space of a person and his behavior.

Thus, we are dealing with a conflict between two opposing points of view, two orders: between the «technical and economic order of organization» and the «organic order of the community». The first, meaning rationalization and unification of the behavior, corresponds to the organization of production.

The overall assessment of the new direction of research boils down to the following: it is a method of conducting comparative studies of negative aspects of urbanization and deformation of urban structures in different countries, which stimulates the development of international research and contacts. Useful and attention to the «painful» points of development of human civilization, because knowledge of diseases is necessary to cure them. The methodology of the new direction has already led to the development of some new ideas regarding the organization of the city space.

The study of the main trends in the development of the population on the basis of the analysis of statistical material clearly confirms the fundamental provisions on the decisive influence of socio-economic factors of production on the population — on its reproduction, composition, migration mobility, employment, placement and character of resettlement and etc.

The current low birth rate of natural population growth, the presence of vast areas with stubborn reproduction of the population are closely related to the aggravation of economic and social contradictions, the growth of unemployment and the deterioration of the material condition of a significant portion of workers, with the threat of a nuclear missile war.

The uneven development of the economy on the territory of the world has caused a very high intensity of population migration both between the countries of the region and within them, and with other regions of the world. Migrations significantly complicated the ethnic composition of the population of many countries. As a result of different, very contrasting combinations of the indicators of natural growth and migration of the population, there is a very variegated picture of the geography of the types of population dynamics.

The main feature of the current stage in the development of forms of dispersion is the growing economic and social crisis of large cities and agglomerations, which is further exacerbated by the exacerbation of environmental problems. The growth rate of the urban population has slowed down, the outflow of residents from the central agglomeration zones is increasing, and the importance of suburbanization and urbanization processes is growing; The areas of cities are increasing faster than their population. Thus, in the 70-ies. The process of urbanization has entered a phase of deconcentration. Large cities are «liberated» from a part of industry, but here the importance of non-productive functions rises. At the same time, integration processes accelerate the formation of large interurban forms of settlement. The rural population of the region is decreasing, its territorial concentration is growing, and the functions of rural settlements are becoming more complicated.

The economic crisis of the 90’s. and many other factors suggest that many of the laws of the current stage of the development of the world economy will continue in the future, so we should expect that the characteristics of the population’s development in the regions described in the work will change little in the first decades of the 21st century. For most developed countries, low levels of fertility and natural population growth will continue to be characteristic, a simple or narrow reproduction of generations, a slow growth rate of urban settlements and deconcentration of the population in highly urbanized countries, a reduction in the proportion of workers throughout the population and among labor resources; the share of developed countries in the world’s population will decrease. Their characteristics will be preserved and the developing countries.

The environmental problems of cities (especially large ones) are that they concentrate all types of environmental pollution, having a direct and indirect impact on huge areas. The social aspect of urbanization is very diverse. It manifests itself in sharp differences in the quality of life in cities and the poor peripheral regions of many developed countries, in social contrasts within large cities. The spatial aspect of urbanization is associated with all the previous ones. The «sprawling» of agglomerations means the spread of the urban way of life to larger areas, which in turn leads to aggravation of environmental problems, to growing transport flows («agglomeration and encirclement»), to the marginal periphery of agricultural and reactionary zones.

The process of urbanization in individual regions and countries of the world has its own characteristics. The modern type of urbanization in economically developed countries is not so much a rapid rate of growth in the proportion of the urban population, but an intensive development of the processes of suburbanization and the formation on this basis of new spatial forms of urban settlement — urban agglomerations and megalopolises.

Suburbanization (under, about + urban) — the process of formation and development of the suburban zone of large cities, resulting in the formation of urban agglomerations. Suburbanization is usually characterized by higher rates of growth in the population of suburbs and satellite cities compared to the city centers of agglomerations.

Suburbanization (outflow of population to suburban areas) is a spontaneous process, it contributed to some reduction in the population of urban nuclei, but it does not lead to decentralization of the population, but rather means «sprawling concentration». Suburbanization also determines the social stratification of the population. A significant part of wealthy people migrate from the centers, which aggravates the problems of large cities, as it narrows the tax base, and therefore the financial base for their reconstruction. The globalism of the urbanization process is particularly evident in the case of developing countries. Urbanization here is unique, leading to a rapid growth of the «pseudo-urban population» (hence: «slum urbanization»). Millions of people in cities drive landlessness, lack of chances of finding a job in the countryside. They replenish the population of quarters on the periphery of large cities. A lot of economic, social, environmental problems, the process of urbanization generates in Russia.

         In general, the world becomes urbanized and it is no accident that one of the goals of sustainable development until 2030 is devoted to cities and settlements. They have to:

      ◊ Remain productive: people here have to find decent work, businesses can efficiently produce and trade, this requires a successful infrastructure, which means that roads, public transport, energy, water supply and sewage systems, a waste recycling system, an effective judicial system to ensure execution of contracts;

      ◊ Ensure social integration: the city should not be a place that increases the gap between the rich and the poor. Effective urban planning and policies should build cities in which people of different races, classes and ethnic groups interact productively, peacefully and with a high degree of social mobility and trust;

      ◊ Be environmentally sustainable: due to high population density, cities are vulnerable to environmental ailments. Therefore, cities should conduct two types of environmental activities: reduce the «ecological footprint», as well as provide resistance to changing environmental conditions.

[1] Уровень урбанизации мира. //TheWorldOnly. 24.09.2014. Режим доступа: https://theworldonly.org/uroven-urbanizatsii-mira/.

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