Community Lost or Transformed? Urbanization and Social Ties

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Abstract

Sociological theorists have generally emphasized the destructive effects of urbanization on social ties through the community lost perspective. A counterview, which we call the community transformed, has begun to emerge on the basis of other theorizing and empirical research. Yet the relationship of urbanization to social ties is still not well understood. In this article, we explore the total number of social ties, the number of kin and nonkin ties, the density or interconnection, and frequency of contact between ties among individuals residing within various U.S. settlement types. The results indicate that urbanization especially encourages the segmentation of social ties by discouraging density or interconnectedness. In addition, urbanization does have noteworthy effects in encouraging exclusively nonkin ties, which are presumably highly voluntaristic. Of the three definitions of urbanization that are tested, we find that metropolitanization is the most efficacious for understanding variations in social ties, especially exclusively nonkin ties.

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