Document Type


Date of Award



Urbanization, Political sociology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Arthur S. Banks

Second Advisor

Joseph M. Firestone

Third Advisor

Arthur K. Smith


This dissertation critically examines the role of urbanization in major theoretical and empirical works on political development. The examination takes place at three analytical levels: meta-theoretical, theoretical, and empirical; it is conducted utilizing a framework resulting from a reconstruction of philosophical works on concept formation, theory construction, measurement, and theory testing.

Following the development of the meta-theoretical framework, the initial portion of the dissertation concentrates on problems of concept formation and the nature of the theoretical generalizations connecting urbanization to the broader processes of modernization and political development. The initial conceptual framework is derived from Daniel Lerner's The Passing of Traditional Society and is composed of four variables: urbanization, education, communications, and democratic political development. Education and communications are viewed as aspects of the process of modernization, while democratic political development is the dependent variable. As in the Lerner theory, urbanization is taken as the single exogenous, instigating variable. It is the conceptualization and measurement of urbanization that is the focus of this study.

Contrary to the work of political development theorists, urbanization is conceptualized as a multidimensional process of population movement from rural to urban areas. The initial conceptualization suggests that there are four dimensions: degree, pattern, rate, and source. The conceptual structure of urbanization is then used to organize a survey of the theoretical literature on urbanization and its relationship to modernization and political development. This survey fulfills several purposes: it provides a test for the utility of our conceptualization of urbanization; it allows us to develop a catalogue of theoretical generalizations relating urbanization, modernization, and political development; and, it allows us to compare our conceptualization with that of development theorists and other social scientists.

The verbal specification of the urbanization concept is then tested empirically. Data on thirteen different indicators (of the degree and pattern dimensions) for 33 different countries and covering the period 1882-1963, are assembled and factor analyzed to delineate empirical dimensions of the urbanization concept. The initial two-dimensional hypothesis corresponding to the degree and pattern of urbanization is rejected; a remarkably stable six-factor solution emerges from the empirical analysis, with the factors being labeled degree, primacy, distribution, concentration, locus, and scale of urbanization respectively. Subsequently, a six-dimensional measurement model is constructed with factor scores generated from the longitudinal analysis being used to represent values on the separate dimensions.

The final portion of the analysis, the test of the fully developed theoretical network, focuses on the four-variable Lerner theory of political development. The numerous causal modeling studies on this topic are surveyed and a vector space perspective on the systems of structural equations used to represent these causal models is developed. Using longitudinal data on the urbanization dimensions, education, communications, and democratic political development, vector space hypotheses implicit in the Lerner model are tested. These hypotheses are rejected as not providing an adequate fit to the data and further attempts at causal analysis derivative of these hypotheses are consequently abandoned. A secondary, and purely exploratory analysis is completed, however, and it suggests that the locus of urbanization is the dimension most closely associated with democratic political development.

The concluding chapter draws out the implications of the study regarding the utility of applying the metatheoretical framework to quantitative empirical research; on the consequences of failure to appreciate the interrelated processes of concept formation, measurement, and theory construction; and, of the failure of political development theorists to carefully conceptualize and measure the concept of urbanization. In summary, the analysis makes clear the prominent role assigned to urbanization theories of political development must be re-examined.