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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1885, from urban + -ism.


n. 1 the study of cities, their geographic, economic, political, social and cultural environment 2 the culture or way of life of people who live in cities 3 urbanization


Urbanism is the study of the characteristic ways of interaction of inhabitants of towns and cities (urban areas) with the built environment. It feeds into disciplines such as urban planning (the physical design and management of urban structures) and urban sociology (the study of urban life and culture).

Many architects, planners, and sociologists investigate the way people live in densely populated urban areas. There is a huge variety of approaches within urbanism.

Urbanism's emergence in the early 20th century was associated with the rise of centralized manufacturing, mixed-use neighborhoods, social organizations and networks, and what has been described as "the convergence between political, social and economic citizenship".

Urbanism can be understood as placemaking and the creation of place identity at a city-wide level, however as early as 1938 Louis Wirth wrote that it is necessary to stop 'identify[ing] urbanism with the physical entity of the city', go 'beyond an arbitrary boundary line' and consider how 'technological developments in transportation and communication have enormously extended the urban mode of living beyond the confines of the city itself.'

Urbanism (disambiguation)

Urbanism may refer to:

  • Urbanism: the characteristic way of interaction of inhabitants of towns and cities (urban areas) with the built environment.
  • Urban planning: the technical and political process concerned with the design of the urban environment.
  • Urban theory

Usage examples of "urbanism".

Their givenness and everydayness -- rather than any cycle of shock and habituation -- is the trademark of the new, postmodern urbanism.

The living language of our time, born spontaneously and naturally in accord with its spirit, is the language of urbanism.