Sociology 10                                                                                          C. Chase-Dunn Tuesday-Thursday 9:40 a.m. - 11:00 a.m                                                        Olmsted 1208

The City

W. O. J. Niewencamp, “The mill at Bruges.” P. 77 in The Modern Woodcut by Herbert Furst, London: The Bodley Head.

v. 4-30-12                                                                                                                      

            This is a course on the emergence and transformation of human settlement systems[1] in comparative and evolutionary perspective since the Paleolithic. We will consider the annual circular treks of nomads from camp to camp, the emergence of winter hamlets and the transition to permanent villages and towns, the emergence and growth of cities, and the co-evolution of sedentary and nomadic peoples, the emergence of the car-based multicentric cities and the development of the contemporary global city system. We will study the forces that have led humans to live in larger and larger urban agglomerations and the problems of sustainability that urban growth processes have created. Topics that will be covered are: problems associated with the estimation of the population sizes of modern and premodern settlements; settlement size distributions; high density and low density settlements; the relationships between empires and cities; the processes of urbanization; world cities and global cities; megacities and slums in the Global South; the whole global system of settlements, the Southern California urban agglomeration; and the problems that are associated with the pattern of low-density urban growth  (urban sprawl). We will also study industrial urbanization, megacities and the urbanization of the global system with its world cities tightly linked to one another by communications, transportation, trade and organizational networks. Contemporary urban issues in Southern California and other regions will also be considered.

The course will employ the comparative world-systems perspective to examine the conditions and problems of living in settlements in evolutionary perspective. A primer on the modern world-systems perspective is Thomas Richard Shannon’s An Introduction to the World-Systems Perspective (Westview 1996). Used copies are available from

            Grading is based on the midterm exam (30%) [May 3], the final exam (30%), [June 14] attendance (15%), and a short (less than 10 pp. typed, double-spaced) research paper that comparatively analyses the settlement system of a premodern world-system (25%) [due date June 7]. The midterm and the final will be in-class essay exams. 

Readings marked with an asterisk (*) are required. Others are recommended.

            The following books are available at the Campus Store and are on reserve:

William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl: a compact history

Edna Bonacich and Jake B. Wilson, Getting the Goods: Ports, Labor and the Logistics Revolution.(

The Cities Reader is available on the course iLearn web site.

April 3 no lecture

April 5   Overview of the course

April 10  The comparative world-systems perspective

*T.D. Hall and C. Chase-Dunn, “Global social change in the long run”  Chapter 3. in C. Chase-Dunn and S. Babones (eds.) Global Social Change. (under course materials on course iLearn web site)

April 12 Settlement Systems

 * C. Chase-Dunn, “The role of ecosettlement systems in social evolution”

            in Cities Reader.

            World-systems of nomads; The rise of sedentism: diversified foragers 

            Settlement systems: hamlets, villages and towns; Settlement size distributions

            The limits of settlement size; High-density and low-density settlements

            The metabolism of cities

            Abel Wolman, “The metabolism of cities.” Science 1965

April 17 The changing role of settlements in world-systems

* C. Chase-Dunn “The changing role of cities in world-systems” in Cities Reader.

Jill E. Neitzel (ed.) Great Towns and Regional Polities in the Prehistoric American Southwest and Southeast. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

David A. Gregory and David R. Wilcox (eds.) Zuni Origins (Arizona 2007)

April 19 The birth of cities1: Mesopotamia and Egypt

* Christopher Chase-Dunn, Daniel Pasciuti, Alexis Alvarez and Thomas D. Hall “ The ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian world-systems” in Cities Reader.

Marc Van De Mieroop, The Ancient Mesopotamian City (Oxford 1997)

      Measuring the population sizes of ancient settlements; Great towns and complex chiefdoms; City-states and imperial capitals; Sedentary/nomad interactions;

            Semiperipheral capitalist city-states

April 24 The birth of cities2

            East Asia, South Asia, Mesoamerica, the Andes

            *Christopher Chase-Dunn and Alice Willard, Systems of Cities and World-Systems in the City Reader.

            Justin Jennings, The First Globalizations

April 26 Cities, Empires and Hegemony1

* Christopher Chase-Dunn, Alexis Alvarez and Daniel Pasciuti, “Power and size: urbanization and empire formation in world-systems” in Cities Reader.

May 1 (study questions for the Midterm handed out) (Topic for research paper is due)  Cities, Empires and Hegemony2

* Christopher Chase-Dunn and Alice Willard, “Cities in the Central Political/Military Network Since CE 1200:Size Hierarchy and Domination in Cities Reader.

Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital, and European states, AD 990-1990

     (Blackwell, 1990)

From capitalist city-state in the semiperiphery to capitalist nation-state in the core: The rise of the Dutch republic

May 3  Midterm Exam

May 8 Cities and World Regions: the Rise of the West and East/West Synchrony

* Christopher Chase-Dunn and E. Susan Manning, “City systems and world-systems: Four millennia of city growth and decline’ in Cities Reader.

            Janet Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony (Oxford 1989)

The urbanization of societies and world urbanization

            Industrial cities: From demographic sink to demographic fountain.

            World urbanization: World Cities and the World Settlement System

Kenneth Boulding, “The city as an element in the international system.” Daedalus:   Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fall, 1968.

            Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo.

Peter Taylor, The World City Network.

May 10 Urbanization in the United States

            * William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West Preface, Chapters 1-3

May 15 Urbanization in the United States

            * William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West Chapters 4-6

May 17 Urbanization in the United States

            * William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West  Chapter 7-Epilogue

            Robert J. Sampson, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect.

May 24 World Urbanization and Cities in the Global South

* Christopher Chase-Dunn, “The coming of urban primacy in Latin America”in Cities Reader.

Mike Davis, Planet of Slums   

Mike Davis and Daniel B. Monk, Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism

David A. Smith, Third World Cities in Global Perspective

May 22 The Southern California Urban Agglomeration: The premodern world-system in

            Southern California; Los Angeles in global culture; Who Rules Socal?l Suburban

            power and the “globalization project”

*Edna Bonacich and Jake B. Wilson, Getting the Goods: Ports, Labor and the Logistics Revolution. (Parts 1 and 2)

            Mike Davis, City of Quartz   

Allen J. Scott and Edward Soja, The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory


Edna Bonacich and Richard Appelbaum, Behind the Label

May 29 Southern California: “Gated” “Communities”; Order and Repression; Socal

            Catholic Church and Mexico

*Edna Bonacich and Jake B. Wilson, Getting the Goods: Ports, Labor and the Logistics Revolution.(Part 3 and Conclusion)

Ruth Milkman, L.A. Story,

Michael Dear, From Chicago to L.A.

May 31 Urban Sprawl and Sustainable Urbanism

            *Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl, PART 1, Chapters 1-6

Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck, Suburban Nation

Low density and multicentric cities; Mixed Use Developments

June 5: Urban Sprawl  and Sustainable Urbanism

            *Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl, PARTs 2 and 3, Chapters 7-13 and Conclusion

Myron Orfield, American Metropolitics: the new suburban reality

Mike Davis, “Obama at Manassas

June 7 Next 3 futures and Lyrical Upsurge [Research paper is Due](Final Study Questions Handed Out) *Mike Davis, “Who Will Build the Ark?” Available on the Course Web Site under Course Materials

June 14 8:10 am to 10 am final exam

Research Paper for Sociology 10

 The task is to study a premodern[2] settlement system of a whole political-military network [3] composed of interacting polities. On April 26 please turn in a single sheet of paper with your name, email address and the main premodern settlement that will be the focus of your study of a settlement system and the time period you will study. Also include the citations for three specific library (non-Internet) sources of information about the focal settlement and the other settlements with which it is interacting.

            A political/military network is a network of polities that are allying and making war on one another, like the modern international system or earlier regional PMNs composed of chiefdoms, states or empires. PMNs have settlement systems composed of cities, towns, villages and hamlets and may be in interaction with nomadic peoples who live in temporary camps. Pick a single focal settlement (for example a specific Chumash village before the Europeans arrived in Southern California, or Carthage from 300 to 50 BCE). Use the idea of nested interaction networks in Chase-Dunn and Hall to try to estimate the spatial scale of the bulk goods, prestige goods, political-military network and information network within which your focal settlement is interacting. These are the spatial boundaries of the world-system of which your focal settlement is a part. Also study the relations that the humans living in your focal settlement have with nature: how they get their food, raw materials, fuel, and water? And study the transportation networks that link your focal settlement to other settlements. Use the idea of a settlement size distribution to examine the relative population sizes of the settlements that are linked together in your settlement system. Also use other ideas and readings from the course in your consideration of this settlement system.

Data on the population sizes of cities are available from Tertius Chandler’s Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth. The population estimates for the cities in Chandler are in a machine-readable dataset called citypop5.xls that is accessible on the course web site. David Wilkinson’s maps of cities and their civilization may also be helpful. These are at

 Tell the story of the settlement system of which your focal settlement is a part, and suggest explanations for the patterns that you find. The text of your paper should be no longer than 10 typewritten double-spaced pages. Include a bibliography of your sources and maps if you can find them. The paper is due on June 7.

[1] Settlement systems are networks of interacting settlements.

[2] Premodern means before 500 years ago or, if more recent, a settlement that has had no significant interaction with Europeans.

[3] A political-military network is a regional system of interacting polities (chiefdoms, states or empires) that make alliances or war with one another.