Krzhizhanovskogo Street, 24/35, korpus 5, 117218, Moscow, Russia
Tel.: +7 (499) 128-85-19
Fax: +7 (495) 719-07-40
Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article reviews various historical and contemporary examples of creating an urban environment through interaction between various social groups that make up the urban community. We propose a division of social agents into two categories. Agents of the first category influence the urban environment directly, by overseeing housing construction, the development of the utility infrastructure, and the improvement of the urban community’s social structure. Agents of the second category are individuals, social groups, and social organizations, which are interested in seeing the urban environment development in a particular way that fulfills their needs. These agents may shape the urban environment indirectly, through the democratic election of representative government bodies, or through a system of hearings and referenda. These two categories may have contradictory interests, but in spite of this, the representatives of social groups and high authorities (i.e. entities of the first category) are compelled to bear in mind the interests of those entities which, following the provisions of this article, may be included in the second category. The examples studied in this research reveal that, almost since the very emergence of the first cities, entities of the first category have been using the various material resources under their control to develop housing and utility projects that help meet the communities’ need for material goods and social well-being. The 20th century saw a dramatic shift in the perception of the government’s role in handling the population’s social needs; this shift, together with the transformation of the political systems, gave rise to new means of orchestrating the proper functioning of the urban environment. The 20thcentury urbanization created new opportunities for people who live in cities, which also led to the emergence of new needs, and accounting for and addressing these needs is today’s main strategy when it comes to bridging the gap between the survival needs of millions of ordinary members of urban communities and the economic interests of the national and local elite. Doing so contributes to a peaceful social environment and makes it possible for the community to keep developing economically, culturally, socially, and politically.
City environment formation, social needs, social functions of the city, city structure, urban development, architectural and space planning, city population.