to understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities

To Understand the Most Important Characteristics of a Society,: IELTS Essay

Updated on 20 June, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Are major cities the basis for understanding the most crucial characteristics of any society? This IELTS essay question seems to think so. You may agree, disagree or partly agree with this premise. There is a need to deeply understand what we mean by social traits and characteristics and how they are applicable to major cities worldwide (if at all).

To Understand the Most Important Characteristics of a Society, One Must Study Its Major Cities.: Sample Essay 1 

“We will neglect our cities to our peril, for in neglecting them we neglect the nation.” John F. Kennedy’s seminal remark serves to put the topic in perspective. The question states that the most important or defining characteristics of any society are contained in its major cities, studying which will result in a better understanding of the same. In my opinion, the argument is partly true and differs across regions.

I state my case by highlighting the non-homogenous and diverse nature of several global cities. To that end, major cities like London, New York, or Mumbai are agglomerations of diverse cultures, resulting in cosmopolitan traits which are often non-representative of traditional societal characteristics of their underlying regions. Yet, some cities like Paris or Kolkata are examples of urban centers which uphold societal characteristics intrinsic to the State or region. 

Paris is synonymous with French culture and cuisine. From its leisurely meals to farm-to-table dining (showcasing indigenous cuisine) and institutions like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, Paris is as French as it gets. Despite globalized traits, it still upholds many French societal traditions and customs. In a similar vein, Kolkata is a major Indian metropolis but still upholds societal traits of the State of West Bengal (of which it is the capital) through its festivals, ceremonies, cuisine, and cultural landmarks. Hence, the ability of a major city to uphold the most important societal characteristics is governed by its overall population mix, industrialization levels, and the efforts made by Governments and the citizenry to uphold local traditions, habits, and cultures. 

I would like to conclude by stating that not all major cities are created equally. Hence, the argument is subjective. It holds true for some cities where indigenous societal systems are upheld either naturally or through collective measures. 

Tentative Band Score: 7

No. of Words: 296 [Word Count]

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To Understand the Most Important Characteristics of a Society, One Must Study Its Major Cities.: Sample Essay 2

The topic makes an argument for major cities being the desired subjects of study for understanding important societal characteristics. I disagree with the notion since major cities are almost always non-representative of the societal traits of their regions. In Kevin Lynch’s “The Image of the City,” he stated that “the metropolitan region is now the functional unit of our environment and it is desirable that this functional unit should be identified and structured by its inhabitants.”

A pertinent question arises in this context- Who are these inhabitants of major cities? Cities like New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and others are characterized by diverse inhabitants from different countries, states, cities, and belief systems. Increasing technological growth, globalization, and large intra and inter-city migration have led to cosmopolitan cities which thrive on the “functional” aspect as mentioned by Lynch. Their distinct societal flavors and attributes are characterized by this mixture of traits, beliefs, practices, habits, customs, and cultures. 

Hence, a city like London, with its vast population of Asians and other communities, will not be representative of traditional English societal habits and attributes. To understand the most important social characteristics of a region, it is important to study smaller towns and semi-urban areas instead. These are localities that uphold and retain their societal traits to a larger degree. Homogeneity through the same brands, retail outlets, dining and working habits, and urban lifestyles is also another common thread binding most of the world’s major cities. Hence, understanding the vital societal characteristics of the region is difficult in this scenario. 

I conclude by stating that we should study smaller cities, towns, and villages to get an idea of local societal systems, traditions, and traits. Major cities are always in a state of flux and can never represent these societal characteristics to their truest extent.

Tentative Band Score: 6.5

No. of Words: 302 [Word Count]

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I start my essay in IELTS?

You should first carefully understand the question and plan your response. Divide your answer into paragraphs with a proper introduction and conclusion. Have a few instances to support your argument. Always write in your own words and state your own opinion/position clearly in the introduction while outlining the topic and what you intend to cover.

Q. Is 6.5 good score in IELTS Writing?

6.5 is a score that indicates that the test-taker has competency in using the English language. It also signals his or her readiness to function in an academic environment where English is the medium of instruction. In general, 6.5 is considered a good score for admission into several reputed universities worldwide.

Q. Why IELTS Writing is difficult?

The difficulties in the writing section arise from the fact that students have to complete the essay in the allotted time. Achieving the required word count within this timeline is a difficult task at times.

Q. What are the characteristics of a society?

The core characteristics of the society include the following: 

  1. Likeness- This refers to similar traits amongst members in a community or group on the basis of mutual aspects. 
  2. Reciprocal awareness. 
  3. Differences. 
  4. Interdependence. 
  5. Cooperation. 
  6. Conflict. 

These are the basic traits or attributes that you should know more about.

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