“Chicago School” in Urban Sociology

Chicago school has been contributing to the development of the sociology field for years. The principal focus of specialists has lied in thorough research of cultural and population diversity making the city a kind of search laboratory. It should be noted that the area of urban sociology was developed and widened due to the number of theories and ideas introduced by representatives of the Chicago school.

Chicago School in Urban Sociology

The Chicago School of Urban Sociology refers to work of faculty and graduate students from the University of Chicago during the period 1915 to 1945. Chicago school representatives managed to highlight two principal aspects of the sociology field being focused on the following ideas:

  • Urbanism characterization considering the way of life;
  • The ecological approach in the process of urban analysis.

The major theories have been developed by such outstanding sociologists as Wirth, Robert Park, and Ernest Burgess.

According to the position of the outstanding Chicago school representative Louis Wirth, who devoted his theories to the description of urban sociological aspects, the city was viewed as a set with a diverse and dense population. Taking into account this position, city people were perceived by their activities. Sociological relationships are focused on self-interests; according to Wilson, the communities of rural areas enforce their traditions while the urban heterogeneous population hardly shares moral conduct codes. (Lindberg, and Porter, 2003)

It is necessary to underline the fact that Chicago school has made contributions not only to the development of the sociology field but also to the exploration of urban ecology being presented as a link between social and physical city dimensions; people are investigated according to the principles of social area analysis, that is taking into account specific residential areas. Urban sociology appeared to cover the family types and principles of their settlement.

According to Georg Simmel, urban life is considered to be an integral part of the character-shaping of a personality influencing one’s behavior and perception of society. The city usually forms people’s attitudes to the surrounding world, norms, and traditions. Taking into account Park’s position, the city should be perceived as “a sorting mechanism selecting individuals for living in a particular region…” (Macionis, and Plummer, 2008)

It is important to stress that city is presented as a map of social interests and characteristics; cities used to be broken up into various segments by business property mixtures and housing privileges. Urbanism introduced as a way of life appeared to be the principal form of social existence. It influences the formation of neighborhoods being divided by particular interests and characteristics; connections types between families are based upon traditional issues in immigrant areas. People, living in urban areas, are integrated regarding their ways of life and norms accepted in social groups.

Taking into account theories of the sociological field being developed by the Chicago school, it is important to underline the fact that outstanding sociologists made a great contribution to the widening of modern science. Such aspects as urban ecology and urbanism as a way of life appeared to be an integral part of sociological field concepts.


  • Giddens, A. and Griffiths, S. (2006) Sociology. 5th Edition, Polity.
  • Lindberg, D. and Porter, Th. (2003) The Cambridge History of Science. Cambridge University Press.
  • Macionis, J. J. and Plummer, K. (2008) Sociology: A Global Introduction. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
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