The Rural, Urban Settings and Factors Responsible for Rural-Urban Differentiation

The Rural, Urban Settings and Factors Responsible for Rural-Urban Differentiation

In this article, we treated the definitions of some basic sociological terms and the historical development of Rural Sociology in a developing country like Nigeria.

In this article, we are going to look at the concepts of Rural and Urban Settings and the general factors responsible for the differences between the two areas. By the end of this post, you should be able to explain Rural and Urban areas and explain the various factors that differentiate the Rural from the Urban.


The Concepts of Rural and Urban Livings

In Nigeria, rural areas have been defined as areas with a population less than 5,000 in 1956, less than 10,000 in 1963 and less than 20,000 today (Igbokwe 2001). It could be said that based on size, some designated rural areas that have infrastructural facilities and services similar to those in urban areas and with rapid changes in population size make the use of size often not meaningful.

Many rural areas are modernizing changeably or dynamically. This gives rise to the concept of the rural urban continuum. It stands that communities cannot be forced into two types of categories but should be seen to represent various modernization stages on a linear scale.

For example, while cities like Lagos and Ibadan may portray maximum of urban characteristics, some communities are typically rural, and between the two extremes are found communities at different stages of modernization.

Rural ——————Urban

The Rural-Urban Continuum

Rural refers to areas with low population density, small size, and relative isolation, where the major economic activity is largely agricultural production. The areas considered rural are the settlements that have between 100 and 200 households (Mundi 2006).

It also refers to remote areas or places far away from the seat of government and having very few or no infrastructural facilities i.e. the countryside and the people living in the villages. The major concern of rural sociologists is with farmers, with agricultural occupations, and with problems of farm people, their ways of making a living and other occupations influencing their life. On the other hand, urban people are those who live in towns with a population of 2,500 and over in the U.S.A., or 3,000 and over in Nigeria (Jibowo, 1992).


Factors Responsible for Rural-Urban Differentiation

The following factors are responsible for the general differences between rural and urban places.

1. Size of the Place

 Rural communities are usually smaller than urban communities. Size, is referred to here, particularly to areas actually inhabited rather than the total area of land available for use.

2. Population

Density and Composition As rural areas have larger expanse of land with relatively small population; the population density (i.e the number of people per unit area of land) is rather low. This is in contrast to urban areas where a larger number of people occupy relatively small unit areas. This is evident by the fact that tall buildings are more in number in urban than in rural areas in Nigeria.

3. Occupation

Farming, pastoral and collecting enterprises form the basis of rural economy. Some rural people are engaged in petty trading, arts, craft, and weaving, pottery and primary industries; only a few tend to take these as sole occupations. Instead they tend to combine these with farming and a large number are full time farmers. In contrast, people in urban areas are mainly engaged in manufacturing, commercial and administrative occupations.

4. Culture Simplicity

The legends, proverbs, folklore, fashion etc. of the ruralites are based on their local experiences and their relatively poor cultural base. Similarly, their tools, utensils, furniture and other material inventions are simple, based on uninvestigated scientific ideas and relatively less efficient. In contrast, the culture of urban areas is more complex and varied. The fact that the urban area is usually heterogeneous ethnically makes it the melting pot of various cultures.

5. Social Integration

This refers to a patterned relationship of one person with another through expressions of ideas, thought and action aimed at achieving concrete goals. Social contacts are greater in quantity, quality and variety in urban than in rural areas. 

In rural area, interaction takes place at water sites, market days, religious worship areas, cultural, marriage and naming ceremonies. The quality and type of interaction among the urban dwellers is much more than that of rural dwellers. However, both the urban and rural dwellers are interdependent in the area of farm produce buying at the farm gate and traditional services.

6. Social Stratification

This has to do with the manner in which the society ranks its members into various social classes or hierarchy on the basis of wealth, birth, status etc.

The difference between the social classes in urban from the rural areas are:

· Social classes are fewer in rural area than the urban

· Social classes in rural areas are closer than in the urban area.

· There is more rigidity in caste and class principles or close systems in rural areas than in the urban areas.

7. Social Differentiation

This is the tendency of social interaction to generate social differences among people. This may be differences in status, ranks, and functions among others. Social differentiation is more complex in urban areas than in rural areas. Urban areas comprise of all forms of professionals with a high level of integration and interdependence via a network of specialization and division of labour. 

The market woman, motor driver, tailor and carpenter are all interdependent in a complex system of relationships in the urban area or city. The rural area is made up of many relatively independent families, communities and neighbourhoods. The rural dwellers deal with people of identifiable traits such as other farmers of the same religious groups, cultural, social and economic level.

8. Social mobility

This is the movement of an individual from one social class or group to another. People may move vertically from a lower to higher or higher to lower class via specific achievements viz. success in economic pursuits, education, political change, or job creation. Improvements in social infrastructure are bound to be more in the urban areas than in the rural areas. Social mobility is rather slow in small areas.

9. Social Control

The behaviour of individuals in the rural areas tends to be guided more by the internalization of societal norms and values. Informal means such as ostracism and gossips are used or applied to effect control on violation while instant justice is determined in cases of the violation of mores. Urban areas tend to depend more on formal institutions such as the police, traffic wardens among others for the maintenance of law and order.


Conclusion on the Rural, Urban Settings and Factors Responsible for Rural-Urban Differentiation

In this article, we have been able to examine the concepts of rural-urban settings.

Also, the post highlights the various factors responsible for general differences between rural and urban areas.

In this article has exposed you to the following factors:

· The concept of a rural-urban continuum

· The varieties of occupations that exist in rural and urban areas

· The urban area is larger in size and in population density

· Moe social classes are more in urban areas than rural areas.

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