The American Sociologist

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 102–114 | Cite as

Moving from Urban Sociology to the Sociology of the City



Castell’s claim that urban sociology has no subject matter has yet to be refuted. In this article, I argue that urban sociology should be understood as the sociology of the city. Rather than focusing on social problems within an urban context, urban sociologists need to treat the city as an autonomous social unit. The main task for the sociology of the city is to explain similarities and differences across individual cities and urban groups and to identify how these affect social life and collectivities. I illustrate this argument by exploring the urban production of trust. Treating the city as the unit of analysis, I show how trust matters for cities and how cities produce trust.


Urban sociology Sociology of the city The city Trust 



I thank Terry Clark, Sean Lauer, Lawrence Nichols and Rima Wilkes for their insightful comments and useful suggestions on earlier drafts. I also thank the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics (funded by a subsidy from the Government of the Russian Federation for the implementation of the Global Competitiveness Program).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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