Urbanization and Political Development of the World System: A comparative quantitative analysis

Authors: Korotayev, Andrey; Grinin, Leonid
Almanac: History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies

Because the relationship between urbanization and the evolution of statehood is a rather voluminous subject, we shall only consider a few aspects of this relationship[1]. First of all, it appears necessary to note that the very formation of the state is connected with urbanization directly, or indirectly[2]. Among factors that contribute to both state formation and urbanization the following, appear to have been especially important: а) population growth (see, e.g., Claessen and van de Velde 1985;Chase-Dunn and Hall 1994; Fried 1967a, 1967b; Service 1975; Korotayev, Malkov, and Khaltourina 2006a, 2006b; Гринин 2006а); b) development of trade (Ekholm 1977; Webb 1975)[3]; and c) growth of wealth[4].

It also appears necessary to note that the "urban" way of the early state formation was one of the most important ones (for more detail see Гринин 2006а). Urbanization was connected with the concentration of people as a result of the compulsory merger of a few settlements due, usually, to pressure from a military threat. Such a situation was typical for many regions: for Ancient Greece (Глускина 1983: 36; see also Фролов 1986: 44; Андреев 1979: 20–21), Mesopotamia, in particular in the late 4th millennium and the 3rd millennium BCE (Дьяконов 1983: 110, 2000а, 1: 46), a number of African regions; for example, in South-East Madagascar in the 17th century a few small states of the Betsileo originated in this way (Kottak 1980; Claessen 2000, 2004). In Greece this process was called synoikismos

[1] This issue has been also considered in some previous publications by the second author of this article (see, e.g., Гринин 1999, 2006а; see also Grinin 2006).

[2] The factors of state formation are very numerous (for more detail see Гринин 2006а) and their analysis goes beyond the scope of this article.

[3] The role of transit and external trade in the development of many early states was very important. Many of them, like medieval Ghana, were (to use Kubbel's expression) "huge foreign trade superstructures" (Куббель 1990: 72). The state monopolization of the trade sources, exotic imports, and trade duties was a very important accumulation source within such states, according to Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997: 236).

[4] For example, Diakonoff maintains that in the late 4th millennium BCE "the Sumerians began to get fabulous (by the standards of that time) yields from their fields. The well-being of the communities grew fast; the concentration of the population of each canal area around its cult center grew simultaneously. Thus, the settlement pattern changed sharply – it seems that it was safer for the people to keep together: wealth appeared, it could be robbed, and it made sense to defend it". As a result, the resettlement of inhabitants of small villages to the area around the wall of a central temple became a characteristic process of this period (Дьяконов 1983: 110).