"To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities"
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
A 'society' is an amalgamation of varied aspects of life - social, economic, political, demographic, geographic. The study of major cities, while necessary, may not always be sufficient to understand the important characteristics of a society.
A study of major cities could reveal multi-faceted view of the society. This study, essentially, could help bring out the overarching, interconnected themes or characteristics. For example, knowledge of social structures such as existence of a patriarchal system could lead us to answer economic questions such as - "Why are daughters not considered rightful owners of properties?"
In a similar fashion, a geographic survey could reveal why certain sections of the population have a longer life expectancy than others, or why they are more immune to certain infectious diseases than other.
Furthermore, a study of the political climate could unravel answers about the economic environment of the society - a politically unstable regime will most likely result in an economic crisis.
One can, however, argue that simply focussing the lens on major cities might not always be enough to understand the important characteristics of a society, since smaller and maybe not-so-important cities add as much to the overall fabric of society as major cities do. More often than not, that is the case. However, it must be noted that major cities are more representative of the overall society - that is, they present an aggregated view of the entire region than present discrete chunks of information.
Hence, a study of major cities could prove useful while trying to understand the important characteristics of the overall society. However, if one has adequate time and resources at her disposal, it will be more prudent to study both major and minor cities, to bring out more exhaustive results.