Urbanisation

Urbanisation is the increase in the proportion of people living in towns and cities. Urbanisation occurs because people move from rural areas (countryside) to urban areas (towns and cities). This usually occurs when a country is still developing. (Source)

In this seven minute video, Dr. Charlotte Lemanski discusses urbanisation. Specifically:

  • What does the term urbanisation really mean and what are the misconceptions?
  • What do we know about urbanisation?
  • Where is it happening?
  • What are the definitions of urban growth, urbanism and planetary urbanism?
  • What are the implications with the data used to measure and forecast urbanisation?

About the presenter

Dr. Charlotte Lemanski is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Robinson College. She is particularly interested in the global South, specifically on inequalities related to housing and land markets, and urban governance and citizenship. Her research is often focused on South Africa, with research on the highly divided nature of South African cities, with segregation, fear of crime, gated communities, global cities, and low-income housing.

Supporting questions

  1. What is the global distribution of urban growth?
  2. What are some of the flaws with the data that the UN uses to produce urbanisation statistics?
  3. In your opinion, what will be the challenges of a more urbanised world?

Summary

  • The majority of the World’s population live in urban areas, but most people do not live in cities. The majority of global urbanisation is currently happening in small towns.
  • It took 10,000 years to achieve the first one billion urban dwellers, but 25 years to achieve the second billion urban dwellers – we are currently experiencing the fastest rate of urbanisation.
  • Majority of contemporary urbanisation is happening in Asia and Africa, in small towns.
  • Urbanisation is about a concentration of people. A country is ‘urbanised’ or ‘urbanising’ when the majority of its inhabitants live in urban areas rather than rural areas.
  • Britain is experiencing urban growth (many of its cities are growing) but not urbanisation (the proportion of people living in urban areas is not increasing).
  • Urbanism is the idea that there is a certain culture and way of being in an urban environment. Planetary urbanism argues that urbanism is about lifestyle and culture so can happen anywhere on the planet.
  • United Nations predictions have been shown to be widely exaggerated – the pace of urbanisation in Africa and Asia is slower than was predicted, and there are fewer mega cities than was predicted. Census data is not always available (e.g. in war torn countries) so data is not always accurate. This should be taken into account when looking at population data and predictions.

Related videocast: Urban poverty

Links

Potter, R. 1995. Urbanisation and Development in the Caribbean. Geography 80(4):334-341. (Read on JSTOR)

Urbanization and the future of cities - Vance Kite

This video looks at the history of urbanisation and makes predictions for the future of urban areas. It may be useful to critically analyse the outlook at the end of this video.

Urbanisation in the current A level specifications

OCR

It is a key idea of the “Managing Change in Human Environments” Unit that urban growth can lead to a variety of social and economic issues in urban areas. The emphasis placed on understanding the source of data, and its potential flaws is a key geographical skill that is required for A-level.

AQA

Contemporary Urbanisation Processes is a key part of option 4, Unit 3. Students must understand the characteristics, causes and effects of urbanisation, and have contrasting case studies of urban development for different areas of the world. The emphasis placed on understanding the source of data, and its potential flaws is a key geographical skill that is required for A-level.

EDEXCEL

The Enquiry Question: “What is driving the new urbanisation taking place and what are its consequences?” is the basis for understanding world cities. There is particular focus on megacities, how they grow, and if their growth is sustainable. The emphasis placed on understanding the source of data, and its potential flaws is a key geographical skill that is required for A-level.

WJEC / EDUCAS

Emphasis is placed on understanding the causes of re-urbanisation, and how it causes the cultural and demographic structure of settlements to vary. The emphasis placed on understanding the source of data, and its potential flaws is a key geographical skill that is required for A-level.

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