Urban Planning and Sociology

I Miss. Gayatri R. Vhanbatte, B.Tech.Planning student at College of Engineering Pune. I love to explore new things and always get triggered to do something that is unusual. I’m fond of deviling into new places and observing them, to know the specialty of each town, city, and region. To study the cultures, customs, traditions is vital in understanding the city well. To get acquainted with new locations and to understand the living conditions of the people. Apart from urban planning, I’m also passionate in the field of classical dancing. 

URBAN PLANNING AND SOCIOLOGY

“If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.” quoted by the well-known leading authority and one of the foremost thinkers on revitalizing city spaces, smart growth and future cities, Fred Kent. According to this elite Economist; Cities, Urban areas cannot be thought without Life and Human beings.

Urban planning is a process of developing, designing, and utilization of all the resources efficiently and effectively and promotion of built environment including buildings, transportation, economic and social functions is essentials in the global city planning prospects. Mankind is dominant while planning of areas. This is so true because, ‘Planning is done By Humans, For Humans & To Humans.’ Therefore, Planning and People should be in harmony with each other.

Humans cannot live in isolation. Human interaction is crucial for planning of cities encouraging evolution of Communities and Societies. The study of society thus becomes vital for studying urban planning. The term “Society” can simply be defined as “Group of people with similar ideologies and thought processes.” ; instantiating concept of “Sociology”.

Sociology derives its name from the Latin word ‘socius’ meaning ‘companion’ and the suffix ‘logy’ means ‘the study of’. Summarizing we get, “the scientific study of society and its components in order to achieve progress in various sectors”. Sociology is “The science of  human social institutions and relationships. The study of  the origin, development, structure, functioning and collective behavior of organized groups of human beings.” (A Visual Dictionary of Architecture, Francis D.K. Ching).  In other words, sociology plays an important role in the study of cities and development of society.

Sociology has been instrumental for understanding the ‘social nature of man’. Why Man is a social animal? , Why he lives in a group, community or society? Many such questions arise when dealing with the intricate concepts of urban planning and sociology. Changing attitude towards human beings, Scientific knowledge about human society, Relationship between an individual and society, its impact on society, social groups, social institutions, organizations, their functions, etc. help us to lead an effective social life.

Cultures, Traditions, Religion, Beliefs are all distinct terminologies which constitute the Society. It is a complex phenomenon with a multitude of intricacies. India, a country with a diversity of cultures, scattered over the northern, southern, eastern and western boundaries of the country. Dynamic cultures and heritage resulted into differential planning of each city or region. Neighborhood planning and Urban Renewal are the branches of urban planning where the Sociologists vision is imperative. This concept can be justified by the conclusions made by renowned Danish Architect and Urban design Consultant, Jan Gehl. “Cultures and Climates differ all over the world, but people are the same. They’ll gather in public, if you give them good place to do it.”  

Today, the whole world is suffering from the pandemic of COVID-19. This unfortunate crisis led to the ‘LOCKDOWN’ all over the world. In this critical situation, it is necessary for each and every person to act vigilantly and responsible citizens of the country.  Financial and Economic rates of each individual and to a larger extent of the country have fallen down as public and private sectors have ceased. To resolve the ongoing problems, a scientific study of the society is required. This is another perspective to the medical solutions. Along with the medical interventions, it is also necessary to inculcate society with all the methods which will resume the working of the country.

Sociology plays a key role in this situation too. It is the task of sociology to study the social problems through the methods of scientific research and to find out solution to them. The scientific study of human affairs will ultimately provide the body of knowledge and principles that will enable us to control the conditions of social life and improve them. It is impossible to understand and solve its numerous problems without support of sociology.

The current ‘Lockdown’ has actually resulted into a new ideology of “SOCIAL-DISTANCING” to stop the spread of corona virus. Sociology has made a significant contribution to understand this system of the changing needs and demands of the people. The act of social-distancing has been followed by the execution of ‘Quarantine’ activity. Some people have also been in ‘self-isolation’.

As it is rightly said that ‘every coin has two sides’, the current situation also has its own positive and negative effects that could be discussed upon. Due to the reduction of traffic and transportation system ceasing, the disguised nature revitalized the city with its beauty. Each and every human was locked up at their homes and enjoy ‘Family Time’. Schools, Colleges, Business, all came to a hold to follow the concerns regarding social-distancing. Families came together, some fractured relations, misunderstandings; all were resolved by spending more time with each other. We started knowing ourselves in a better approach. Explorations, Inventions, Imaginations rejuvenated the dawn of Humankind. Some relations were damaged, being optimistic in any situation, is the only solution and hope to the problem. Thus, Sociology has drawn our attention to the intrinsic worth and dignity of man.

Urban planning also has to be revised to control the ongoing situation.  The cities have to be planned in a way that is ecologically friendly following the regulations of social-distancing without actually harming the interactions within humans and thus promoting humanity. The infrastructure facilities and other amenities have to be upgraded without disturbing the traditional arrangement. Societies, Communities and Cities thus will give rise to a culture facilitating equal opportunities to every individual.

“First Life, then spaces, then buildings – the other way around never works”, quoted by the famous Danish Architect and Urban Designer Jan Gehl. According to him, a city has to be planned taking into consideration its people. The reverse is not possible!!! The present situation is such that we have initiate and rebuild cities for the survival of mankind.

Urban Planning and Sociology coincide to overcome any circumstances. Cultures and Traditions coupled with Ethics and Moral Values has to be emphasized for the accomplishment of harmony and unity in the society.

At last but not the least, I would like to end by a Sanskrit phrase which is the gist of the theme.

स्वस्तिप्रजाभ्यः परिपालयन्तां न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः।
गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं 
लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु॥

The English Translation:

“May the well-being of all people be protected by the powerful and mighty leaders be with law and justice.

May the success be with all divinity and scholars, May all (Samastah) the worlds (Lokah) become (Bhavantu) happy (Sukhino).”

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