Essay topics: To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities.
The statement above conceals interesting connotations that those major cities are more representative, as for learning the features of the overall society. Nevertheless, it seems to fail to take into account the fact that medium and small cities also play an indispensable role in the judgment of the characteristics of a social system.
Admittedly, as the economic, political and cultural centers, major cities are often likened to bellwethers of a nation’s development in many aspects. To some degree, major cities do represent some significant features that characterize a society, particularly in the process of modernization. This point can be illustrated with the example of Beijing, which is the symbol of Chinese ancient civilization. Despite much recent construction, Beijing remains a city of great monuments, palaces, temples and other reminders of the past glory of imperial China. As we explore into the portrait of Beijing, not only can we acknowledge a plenty of traditional custom of China, but also can obtain information about its new development style in the contemporary.
However, when people are sparing no efforts to do research about the major cities, an essential problem arises : are these features existed in major cities the best ones that can broadly represent the whole characteristics of a society? In view of the large area and different layers of a society, the assumption in the statement above is not valid.
Looking back at the prior example of Beijing, it is of deep cultural heritage and modern features, yet maybe just because it is the capital! Contrary to the modern urban life, more than 700 million Chinese remain peasants now, hence the majority of Chinese still live in rural farming communities. Given this reality in China, at least, more attention should be paid to the situation of the living conditions and life styles in rural area. Without observation over large groups and the most widespread type of cities, the generalization of the characteristics will not make sense.
Thus, while our observation of a society necessitates major cities, certain medium and small cities are equally important. In some cases, like Beijing, the later one even exerts a more profound function on the operation of a society, especially when there exists a certain kind of habitual residence which strongly appeals to most people who are in the largest group. This is like the famous Chinese idiom “three blind men touching an elephant”, each one of them touched a part of an elephant but regarded it as a whole. When conducting a research, to only look into one aspect of the subject, regardless of its value, will surly leads to an absurd result like the conclusion of the blind men.
Cities like Beijing and New York can’t entirely show people the image of China and the United States, a broader perspective is in need when identifying the overall characteristics of a society, that is the way in which more representative types of residence, no matter if it’s major cities or towns, could get a balance in consideration.
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