This perspective, which removes urban places from the context of their societies, may be appropriate to what these disciplines wish to learn of and from the city.
Engels underlines that urban settings has a negative impact on an individual and his morals. He writes that: "the brutal indifference, the unfeeling isolation of each in his private interest, becomes the more repellant and offensive, the more these individuals are crowded together". Such an approach is less useful in anthropology, however. For cross-cultural comparisons and analyses of urban development, the city must be treated as only one of many social institutions such as kinship, religion, and subsistence activity that anthropologists always have conceptualized as parts of a socio-cultural whole. A spirit of independence and autonomy, a desire for innovation, a predilection for social status based on achievement rather than birth, and a sense of community beyond the family or kin group are characteristics often associated with the city. In this view, urban places become centers of social change, economic development, and personal freedom in contrast to conservative, ascriptive, and traditional rural settlements. Cities are thus perceived as sources of novel economic and productive arrangements and new political orders that challenge the fabric of society. ...Show more