Sociology 002f                                                                                       C. Chase-Dunn

Humanities and Social Science 1501                            Tuesday and Thursday 8:10- 9:30

TAs: Elizabeth Bogumil and Armond Hardwick

Sociological Foundations:

The City

W. O. J. Niewencamp, “The mill at Bruges.” P. 77 in The Modern Woodcut by Herbert Furst, London: The Bodley Head.  v. 6-7-18                    

            This is a course on the emergence and transformation of human settlement systems[1] in comparative and evolutionary perspective since the Paleolithic Age. 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 widely available.

Grading is based on the midterm exam (20%) [October 25], the final exam (20%) Monday, December 10. 9-11am (exam does not begin at 8am) lecture attendance (10%), discussion section attendance and participation (25%) and a short (less than 10 typed double-spaced pages) research paper that comparatively analyses the settlement system of a premodern world-system (25%) [due date December 4]. The midterm and the final will be in-class essay exams.  The topic for your research paper is due October 18.

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

            The following required 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 University of Chicago Press 2006

Mike Davis, City of Quartz.

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

Thursday, September 27 Overview of the course

October 2    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) see also C. Chase-Dunn and B. Lerro, Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present.

October 4 Settlement Systems: 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

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

            in Cities Reader.   

Drennan RD, Peterson CE (2006) “Patterned variation in prehistoric chiefdoms”. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103: 3960–3967

Abel Wolman 1965“The metabolism of cities.” Scientific American, v. 213, issue 3, pp. 178-190

Jeremy Black 2015 Metropolis: Mapping the City. London: Bloomsbury

October 9 The changing role of settlements in world-systems

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

* Hiroko Inoue, Alexis Álvarez, Eugene N. Anderson, Andrew Owen, Rebecca Álvarez, Kirk Lawrence and Christopher Chase-DunnUrban scale shifts since the Bronze Age: upsweeps, collapses and semiperipheral development”

*Tilly, Charles.  2010 “Cities, states and trust networks” Theory and Society 39,3/4:265-280.

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)

Scott Ortman, Andrew Cabiness, Jenny Sturm and  Luis Bettancourt “The prehistory of urban scaling”

October 11 The birth of cities: Mesopotamia Estimating the population sizes of ancient settlements; Great towns and complex chiefdoms

* 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)

Mario Liverani, The Ancient Near East.

Algaze, Guillermo. 2005. The Uruk World System: The Dynamics of Expansion of Early Mesopotamian Civilization,

Egypt City-states and imperial capitals; Sedentary/nomad interactions;

Monumental cities and early empire formation: the temple/palace

David Wengrow, The Archaeology of Early Egypt: Social Transformations in North-East Africa, C. 10,000 to 2,650 BC

Van De Mieroop, Marc 2011 A History of Ancient Egypt.  Malden, MA:  Wiley-Blackwell

October 16 East Asia and South Asia

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

Barfield, Thomas 1989 The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China, 221 BC to AD 1757. Cambridge: Blackwell.

Chase-Dunn, Christopher, Thomas D. Hall, Richard Niemeyer, Alexis Alvarez, Hiroko Inoue, Kirk Lawrence, and Anders Carlson. 2010 “Middlemen and Marcher States in Central Asia and East/West Empire Synchrony.” Social Evolution and History 9:1(March):1-29.

Hui, Victoria Tin-bor 2005 War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Keightley, D. N.  2000 The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (ca. 1200-1045 B.C.). Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies.

Chase-Dunn, Christopher, Susan Manning, and Thomas D. Hall. 2000 Rise and Fall: East-West Synchronicity and Indic Exceptionalism Reexamined."  Social Science History 24:4 :727-754.

Schwartzberg, Joseph E. 1992 A Historical Atlas of South Asia.  Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1992.

October 18 (Topic for research paper is due) (study questions for the Midterm handed out)

the birth of cities: Mesoamerica,

Michael Coe, The Olmec; 

Richard Blanton and Gary Feinman, “the Mesoamerican world-system”

The Andes

Justin Jennings, The First Globalizations

Darryl LaLone, “Rise, Fall and Semiperipheral development in the Andean system”

Charles Stanish, “Labor taxes, market systems and urbanization in the Prehispanic Andes: a comparative perspective” Pp.185-206 in Christopher P. Garraty and Barbara L. Stark (eds) Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies.

October 23 Empire Cities

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

* Hiroko Inoue, Alexis Álvarez, Eugene N. Anderson, Andrew Owen, Rebecca Álvarez, Kirk Lawrence and Christopher Chase-Dunn Urban scale shifts since the Bronze Age: upsweeps, collapses and semiperipheral development”

October 25 Midterm Exam

October 30: Capitalist City-States

The rise of the capitalist city-states

* Christopher Chase-Dunn, Hiroko Inoue, Alexis Álvarez, Andrew Owen and Eugene N. Anderson; The Evolution of Economic Institutions: City-states and forms of imperialism since the Bronze Age”  IROWS Working Paper # 79

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

November 1 From capitalist city-states in the semiperiphery to a capitalist nation-state in the core: The rise of the Dutch republic

* 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)

November 6: Cities and World Regions: the Rise of the West and East/West Synchrony; The urbanization of societies and world urbanization; From demographic sink to demographic fountain. Industrial cities: World urbanization: World Cities and the World Settlement System

* C. Chase-Dunn, Hiroko Inoue, Alexis Alvarez, Rebecca Alvarez,  Lulin Bao, Eugene N. Anderson,  Christian Jaworski, Micah Carlson, Mengxian Li, Stacey Hernandez and Stephanie Hernandez “Cities and Empires in World Regions Since the Bronze Age” IROWS Working Paper #84 (

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

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.

November 8 Urbanization in the United States1: the rise of settlements in North America C. Chase-Dunn and T.D. Hall “World-systems in North America”

Pauketat, Timothy R. 2009 Cahokia. New York: Viking

The growth of cities in the U.S.

* William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West Preface, Chapters 1-4

C. Chase-Dunn, "The development of core capitalism in the antebellum United States: tariff politics and class struggle in an upwardly mobile semiperiphery" in Albert J. Bergesen (ed.) Studies of the Modern World-System. New York: Academic Press.

November 13 Urbanization in the United States2

* William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West Chapters 5- Epilogue

Wallace Stegner, Beyond the 100th Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the 2nd Opening of the West

NASA on Reese, Michigan

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

November 15 World Urbanization and Cities in the Global South

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

World Population and Population Density:

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 ;

Beaverstock, J V, Smith, R G and Taylor, P J (1999) ‘A roster of world cities’, Cities, 16, 445-58;

Peter B. Evans (ed.) Livable Cities;

Arnulf Gruebler and Thomas Buettner 2013 “Urbanization past and future” Chapter 2 in

            Arnulf Gruebler and David Fisk (eds.) Energizing Sustainable Cities

November 20:  Socal: The Southern California Urban Agglomeration: The premodern world-system in Southern California;

*C.  Chase-Dunn, E. N. Anderson, Hiroko Inoue, and Alexis Álvarez, The Prehistory of Money in Southern California IROWS Working Paper #80

Lynn H. Gamble 2008, The Chumash World at European Contact.

Lowell John Bean, Mukat’s People

the rise of Los Angeles

Los Angeles in global culture; Who Rules Socal?

*Mike Davis, City of Quartz  Prologue, Chapters 1-3

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

Allen J. Scott and Edward Soja, The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory; hammer and rock: bastards of the party

Ruth Milkman, L.A. Story,  Beverly Silver, Forces of Labor; Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais, Labor’s Untold Story; Mike Davis, Prisoners of the American Dream; Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear; Michael Dear, From Chicago to L.A.; John McPhee, The Control of Nature,  Part 3, “Los Angeles Against the Mountains”

LA Neighborhoods Map

Bastards of the Party

November 22 Thanksgiving

November 27 Socal 2: Suburban power and the “globalization project;  Gated” “Communities”; Order and Repression; Socal Catholic Church and Mexico;  Fontana

LA Story; Getting the Goods

*Mike Davis, City of Quartz  Chapters 4-7

Edna Bonacich and Richard Appelbaum, Behind the Label

Thomas C Patterson, From Acorns to Warehouses

November 29 Urban Sprawl and Sustainable Urbanism1

*Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl, Chapters 1- 7

Drennan RD, Peterson CE (2006) “Patterned variation in prehistoric chiefdoms”. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103: 3960–3967;

Michael E. Smith “Sprawl, squatters and sustainable cities” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 20:2, 2010;

How and why Southern California’s population grew so much in one year

December 4[Research paper is Due](Final Study Questions Handed Out)

Urban Sprawl and Sustainable Urbanism2 Low density and multicentric cities; Mixed Use Developments

*Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl, Chapters 8 - Conclusion

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

Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear

Myron Orfield, American Metropolitics: the new suburban reality

December 6 Lyrical Upsurge

December 10, 9-11 final exam. The exam does not start at 8am.

Research Paper

 The task is to study a premodern[2] settlement system of a whole political-military network [3] composed of interacting polities. On October 18 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 full citations for at least three specific library (non-Internet) sources of information about the focal settlement and the other settlements with which it is interacting. You may also include internet sources.

            A political/military network (PMN) 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 how far the bulk goods, prestige goods, political-military networks and information network extend away from your focal settlement. For example, what is the most distant settlement from which the focal settlement occasionally gets food (etc.)? 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 pages of text. Bibliography, pictures and maps can be on additional pages. Include a bibliography of your sources and maps if you can find them. Hard copy of your paper is due in class on December 4. 

Read the list of requirements above several times during the period in which you are working on your paper and be sure to do each of the things that are requested.      A Guide to Writing Research Papers:


[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.