Image Processing Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter 3
Defining Urban Areas
John R. Weeks
What is an urban area? How do we know it when we see it? And how do we measure
the concept of urban, so that we can study it? This chapter reviews the many dimen-
sions of urbanness in an attempt to synthesize the vast literature that exists on the
topic, but focuses especially on issues of classifying places as urban or rural in such
a way that changes over time in the characteristics of a place can be adequately
captured by the researcher.
Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to:
Articulate how places are defined as urban
Describe how the urbanness of a place could be measured
Explain how urbanness is used as a predictor of human
What Is Urban?
We all know an urban place when we see it, but defining it is not as easy as it might
seem. In other writings, I have defined urban as being a characteristic of place, rather
than of people (Weeks 2008 ). Places are typically defined as “urban,” and on the basis
of that definition the people living there are thought of as being part of the urban
population. But, we do not usually apply the term “urban” to a person. The personal
adjective “urbane,” still occasionally used to describe a person, is defined by the
Oxford English Dictionary as “having the qualities or characteristics associated with
town or city life; esp. elegant and refined in manners, courteous, suave, sophisticated”
J.R. Weeks ( * )
Department of Geography, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego,
CA 92182-4493, USA
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