Towards a model of urban evolution: Part 1

When and Where

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Room 240
Department of Sociology
725 Spadina Ave. Toronto, ON M5S 2J4


Authors: Dan Silver (Sociology), Mark Fox (Industrial Engineering and Computer Science), Patrick Adler (Urban Planning, UCLA), and Discussants Marion Blute (Sociology) and Andre Sorensen (Geography and Planning)


This is a joint session with the Department of Sociology’s Toronto Theory Workshop. The paper will be circulated and posted at least one week before the session. We ask that participants read the paper before the workshop. The workshop will consist in a brief (5 minute) presentation by the authors, responses by the discussants (approximately 10 minutes each) and then open discussion. 

Abstract: This paper seeks to develop the core concepts of a model of urban evolution. It proceeds in four major sections. First we review prior adumbrations of an evolutionary model in urban theory, noting their potential and their limitations. Second, we turn to the general sociocultural evolution literature to draw inspiration for a fresh and more fulsome application of evolutionary theory to the study of urban life. Third, building upon this background, we outline the main elements of our proposed model, with special attention to elaborating the value of its key conceptual innovation, the “formeme.” Last, we conclude with a discussion of what types of research commitments the overall approach does or does not imply, and point toward the more formal elaboration of the model that we undertake in “Towards a Model of Urban Evolution, Part II” and “Towards a Model of Urban Evolution, Part III.”

Article: PDF iconTowards a Model of Urban Evolution Part I.pdf

This paper is part of the Urban Genome Project. More information can be found on the project's website.




725 Spadina Ave. Toronto, ON M5S 2J4