Sociology is the study of the society and the interaction of the individual to individual, community to community, individual to the community and vice versa. The interplay of this social interaction takes place in the playground of the human settlements. Albert J. Reiss has defined, “sociology is the study of social aggregates and groups in their institutional organization, of institutions and their organization, and of the causes and consequences of changes in institutions and social organization.” Another sociologist, Parson defined sociology, “Sociology is concerned “…With the phenomena of the institutionalization of patterns of value-orientation in the social system, with the conditions of that institutionalization, and of changes in the patterns, with conditions of conformity with and deviance from such patterns, and with motivational processes insofar as these- are involved in all of these.” So, we find that social systems and social institutions play an important role in the society which acts as a cohesive tool to sustain the social structure and society.
Human settlement is the complex entity of the physical habitable space wherein the social interaction in the term of economics and social relationship. But we can simply define, human settlement is an organized grouping of human habitation with basic facilities for sustenance of life.
An individual is a part of the family and the family is the part of a community which in term is a part of the locality which might be a part of rural or urban centre. Further, Albert J. Reiss stated, “A society is an empirical social system that is territorially organized, whose members are recruited by sexual reproduction within it, and persists beyond the lifespan of any individual member by socializing new members to its institutions.
India is a land of diversity and this diversity can be seen in the social structures too. Our society has religious groups and each religious groups are further sub-divided into caste. Caste is an Indian social phenomenon which might not be in existence in other countries.
Before moving further, it’s necessary to understand the difference between caste and class. Caste is an inherent social structure prevalent in our society which has been further strengthened through the provision of caste based reservation in our society through the government. Whereas class is an acquired differential status of an individual and a larger community who has acquired particular qualification or proficiency in a particular field or acquired economic status in society through individual or collective endeavour. For example, the association of lawyers, association of architects, organization of planners, Institution of engineers etc.
The broad based class in terms of the economic status is the low income group, middle income group and high income group.
Community is the collective sense of the group of the families which share some common religious, social and economic status. In some society the community can be based on class or caste. For example, community of Brahamins, community of Muslims, community of Christians, etc.
Society and Architecture
Architecture in the mirror of the social system and effect of the climate on the form and pattern of the human settlements. The social image gets reflected in the form of the architecture of the society and location. The effect of the Mughal architecture can be seen in the buildings of the Delhi and mostly the houses of the Muslims and Mosques. The effect of the climate on the architecture can be seen in the form of the sloping roofs in the hilly region, the use of the indigenous construction material also leads to the variation in the form of the architecture of a region. The wood is easily available and the unstable social of the hilly region forbid from use of the heavy construction material and construction of multi-storey buildings in hilly regions. We will find that most of the houses are single or double storeyed in hilly areas. Due to the prevalence of the modern construction techniques which highly rely on the use of mortar and steel in the construction is replacing the bamboo architecture and wooden houses in the hilly regions too. Again, there is mounting voice for adoption of sustainable building construction practices which encourages the use of the traditional construction material through the modern techniques which will be more sustainable in the turn of the ecological footprint of the construction in the hilly regions.
The architecture of the human settlement is also the reflection of the economic status of the community. The traditional houses of Kerala are now giving way to the bungalow type of houses as the individual is now moving from the traditional localities to the sub-urban areas and the influx of the earnings of the non-residents Indian of Kerala has expedited the process of such changes.
The case of the gated colonies of Delhi is also the reflection of how the different class of the society tries to segregate in the name of the social safety and security. Most of such colonies or housing society has better facilities and infrastructure which they don’t want to be used by communities living nearby.
Evolution of Human Settlements
Man is a social being and it is well known. The social cohesion of the individual to the individual which resulted in the formation of communities helped human in doing more sophisticated work. The advent of the agriculture is the first stage of the organized community living of the human. The organized community living also evolved from the time when groups of people started hunting together. The community living provided human the basic need of shelter and safety. The agriculture leads to the production of the surplus food grains, which in turn led to the other development as all people need not be engaged in hunting or agricultural activities. The agricultural practices gave more time to human for leisure and learning. This release of the surplus labour force now started doing other work which served the community or supplemented the agricultural practices.
The first human settlements started near some rivers or lakes as water is one of the essential requirements for the existence of the human being. The form and the pattern of the human settlement started taking place. Human learned the geometric shape of the square and circle on doing farming. The use of the bullock carts made it essential to have a rectilinear form of the settlement pattern which will enable smooth movement of the carts. The location and functions of human habitation on the earth’s surface are the outcome of human behaviour in a particular geographical environment in relation to housing and highways (Mandal, 2001).
This is evident from the study of the urban planning of the Indus Valley civilization. The rectilinear form of the settlements well fitted with drainage and road has been discovered in the towns of the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro.
Types of Settlements
Geographers have suggested various schemes of classification. If we group settlements found all over the country, these can broadly be grouped under four categories:
- Compact/clustered/nucleated settlement
- Semi-compact/Semi-clustered/fragmented settlement
- Hemleted settlement
- Dispersed settlement.
The circular form of the settlement has been seen in those areas wherein the human decided to settle near some lake, temple, or fort. This form of the settlement is well suited for minimization of the distance of the houses from the central location.
The linear form of settlement originated near the bank of the rivers of some main road leading to some commercial or administrative centres.
Radial Pattern wherein a number of streets converge on one node of the urban settlement.
Hamleted Settlements are essentially fragmented into several small units. Usually main settlement does not have much influence on the other units and most likely this segregation is often influenced by social and ethnic factors.
Dispersed Settlements which are also known as isolated settlements which may consist of a single house to a small group of houses. It varies from two to seven houses. Such human settlements are scattered over a vast area and does not have any specific pattern.
In contrast to this is the compact settlements wherein the number of houses or human settlement is higher per unit area of land i.e., per square kilometre. The high density of the settlements ensures the intense use of land resources. In modern times, most of the town planning projects ensure the compact development to minimize the ecological footprint of the urban development.
The space utilization is the human settlement also play an important role in the pattern of the settlement. The provision for community space, schools, hospitals etc. Also play an important role in shaping the pattern of the settlement.
The cultural activities need some space to like many tribal community festivals which is celebrated and expressed in the group dance which need a large space. The organization of the occasional fairs and events also need space and all these lead to the modification of the pattern and the form of the settlements.
Differentiating Urban and Rural Settlements
In modern time, human settlement has been divided into different groups for the purpose of study and census which also helps in planning and development purposes. Urban areas in India are of three broad types: Statutory Towns, Census Towns and outgrowths or Urban Agglomeration (Pradhan, 2013).
According to census of India, urban settlements are
- All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board, or notified the town area committee, etc. And
- All other places which satisfy the following criteria:
- A minimum population of 5000;
- At least 75% of the male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits;
- A density of population of at least 4,000 persons per square kilometre.
The places which satisfy the conditions mentioned in category (a) are known a statutory town. The towns which satisfy conditions mentioned in the category (b) are known as census towns.
Other human settlements which are not urban will be treated as rural which will have following indicators
- These settlements are chiefly concerned with primary activities such as agriculture, mining, fishing, forestry etc.
- Most of the people of rural settlement are engaged in agricultural work.
- The major function of rural settlement is agriculture and each settlement, specializes in various activities.
- Population density is small and the settlement size is small.
From the above discussion, we have been able to understand the evolution of the human settlement and the interplay of the social structures and its influence on the build environment. The social system of caste and class is more evident in modern time than it was visible in earlier times in the form of the built environment. The gated colonies of Delhi and houses, clusters which are developed by some particular developers create a form of social seclusion of the underprivileged communities.
The form and pattern of human settlement like compact, semi-compact, dispersed and helmeted are a basic classification of human settlement in the term of density. There are many patter of the urban settlement which is primarily governed by the physical features of the location and the circulation pattern of the human settlements.
The interaction of the community and individual may not always result in good things and it might lead to something undesirable too. The occurrence of the caste conflicts, communal riots etc. are some of the negative impact of the community to community interaction.
The study of human settlement at the place of residence, concentration of services, nodes of transportation lines on growth points, growth centres and growth poles and their integral part houses in spatial integrated planning should be considered pivotal ¡n any scheme of urban and regional planning and development.
- Reiss, Jr, A. J. (1967). Sociology.
- Parsons, Talcott. (1951). The Social System, Glencoe: The Free Press, 1951.
- Census of India (2001). Census 2001 of India. Government of India
- Pradhan, K. C. (2013). Unacknowledged urbanisation: New census towns of India. Political and Economic Weekly.
- Mandal, R. B. (2001). Introduction to rural settlements. Concept Publishing Company. India