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The 'ruralization' of the city : with special reference to Baghdad

Alneamy, Fajir Jodah Alwan


Fajir Jodah Alwan Alneamy


Norman O'Neill

David, 1945 Booth


This study is an investigation of the influence of traditional values on urban life in Iraq, with special reference to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Very much has been said about the function of the city as a social form exerting an independent causal effect on other forms of social organisation and on behaviour. The classical urban sociologists believed that city dwelling was likely to eliminate traditional family construction, kinship system and conventional behaviour. The present study attempts to test these assumptions - through a comparative analysis of three different groups of household heads : urban natives [city born], migrants and villagers [control group]- and to recognize the diffusion of traditional values, norms and customs in urban dwellers' behaviour and attitudes, as reacted in the contacts and social relationships among them.

Baghdad has a long urban history, dating back more than a thousand years, although it has declined and been devastated several times during its history. After 1258 A. D, successive invasions by Persian and Ottoman armies destroyed the city and compelled most of its inhabitants to flee, either to other agglomerate centres or to small towns and villages. As a result, Baghdad in the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century was no more than a collection of small hamlets.

However, the city faced new era of increase and urbanization after the First World War, due to two main factors:

a) the rapid and vast increase, in migration from rural to urban areas since the end of second world war;
b) the natural increase which reflects the improvement in health economy and education.

The process of urbanization in Iraq, particularly Baghdad, has developed even more rapidly in the last four decades, mainly because of successive waves of rural migrants, especially from the southern regions: Mysan, Wasit, Thi-Qar, Muthana and Qadisya. Migrants predominate demographically and socially in the city, and most of the city's inhabitants have a deep-rooted rural background. In moving to the city, they have taken with them the attitudes, values, norms and beliefs of their villages, so that the cities have become, in effect, huge villages. In other words, in Iraqi cities, especially Baghdad, the process of urbanization has not necessarily been accompanied by "urbanism" as a way of life. Thus, in the major cities in Iraq, particularly Baghdad which has more migrants than any other, traditional values are sharply reflected in the social behaviour, and in most aspects of lifestyle.

Thus the thesis is concerned with the similarities and differences between the three sets of household heads; it dwells on their rural or urban origins, their education, age, sex, occupation, income and their attitude toward many aspects of social organization.

To test the diffusion of traditional characteristics among the indigenous of Baghdad city, in relation to the factors outlined above, the thesis accords priority to four salient issues:

a) family organization, including the family structure, power, and authority, women's roles, and patterns of marriage ;
b) kinship networks in city social life, among those in both rural and urban categories; kinship control over marriage, loyalty and nepotism, mutual aid and obligations.
c) attitudes to neighbours and neighbourhood participation and relationships, including the role of neighbours as a source of social control ;
d) attitude to social time, with reference to differences in social activities, such as work, leisure, punctuality, keeping appointments and general outlook on the dimension of time.

These issues might shed light on our assumption that Baghdad city is deeply exposed to what has been called "the ruralization of the city".


Alneamy, F. J. A. (1993). The 'ruralization' of the city : with special reference to Baghdad. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 6, 2012
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Criminology
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Criminology, The University of Hull
Award Date Jan 1, 1993


Thesis (24.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1993 Alneamy, Fajir Jodah Alwan. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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