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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.


The statement that one must study major cities to understand the most important characteristics claims major cities could offer plenty insightful information of their country in multiple aspects and would help outsiders get a concise view about that society. I agree that it is necessary and useful to do research on the major cities because they are well documented such that information could be obtained easily and these places are usually closely associated with important cultural elements, including economics, politics, religion, language that contribute to the tradition and development of a society. However, globalized major cities may fail to offer an extensive picture when studying certain societies, especially developing countries due to their uneven development.


Starting with major cities is efficient when it comes to an unfamiliar society. These cities are highly exposed to the outside that their names could be seen frequently on travel guides, daily news and other media. Almost everyone, no matter how knowledgeable he is, knows New York in U.S., London in U.K., Paris in French, Tokyo in Japan etc. Every aspect in these cities is well documented, from history, architecture, and tradition to transportation, food and entertainment. Enormous and detailed information could be obtained such that almost none of the travelers would get lost and could even be prepared to local life before arrival. Also, residents in major cities come from all over the country and they bring different local dialects, living habits and religious beliefs, which could give a brief overview of the society. On the other hand, small towns and villages are more isolated so that very limited, sometimes even blank information could be obtained, thus preventing outsiders to know about these places.


By studying major cities, one could get a concise view of the country’s history and the system of that society due to the fact that major cities are the economic, political, or religion center and are usually closely related to a country’s history and turning points. For example, House of Parliament and Buckingham Palace in London remind people how U.K. becomes a constitutional monarchy, the Wall Street in New York is the metonym for financial markets of United States, where its business reveals flourish and decline of U.S. economy and pilgrimage to Mecca would give a deep impression that the state religion Islam is an important part of life for Saudi Arab.


However, focusing on major cities is necessary but not sufficient for one to form a broader and deeper comprehension of the target society. For non-western societies, modernized cities are actually westernized. In Shanghai, China and Tokyo, Japan, the two East-Asian metropolises, similar to typical western cities such as London, U.K. and Chicago, U.S., one can see skyscrapers, taste international cuisines and talk to multilingual individuals all around on the street. One could hardly find significant differences between the major cities in today’s globalized environment, which undermines their uniqueness to represent a particular society. To the opposite, in most small towns and rural areas, where traditions are still well preserved, could offer unique cultural elements and deeper and broader understanding of the society.


Moreover, major cities cannot represent the overall political and economical development of a country due to the fact that most resources of a country go to the major cities, especially in the developing countries with uneven development. Living standards in large cities are similar, no matter in the developed or the developing countries, but huge gaps exist in small towns, villages and rural areas. While the overall levels of economics and politics are revealed by vast majorities of a country, studying only major cities would certainly lead to partial and maybe even biased images of that society.


In summary, it is recommended for one to do research on major cities in order to study and understand a culture but it is not sufficient. It is a very efficient starting point and the formation of the major cities is closely related to several aspects of the country including economics, politics, traditions and sometimes geographic, etc. But supplementary studies on less known areas could offer a deeper and more comprehensive view of a society. This becomes a requirement and is more critical for someone researching on non-western and developing countries since major cities would underrepresent other regions in that society.


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