What is the concentric zone model?
The concentric zone model is a model that explains the internal structure of the urban social context with an arrangement of social groups in a series of rings. It was the first model to describe the distribution of various social groups in the cities. The development of the model was based on the idea that the nature of a city’s growth is that it starts from a central region and grows outward in a series of rings. In particular, the order of the rings is constant, but their dimensions may change.
The zones of a city, according to the model, include the central business district, the transition zone, the inner suburbs, the outer suburbs and the commuter zone. The model implies that the extension of a social structure starts from the central business district (CBD). In other words, lower-class people live near the city center, while high-class people live some distance from the central area of the city, mainly because they can pay for their travel to and from the city center. Furthermore, as we move further, the density of the city is decreasing and there is a tendency for the rent to increase in areas further from the CBD.
The high cost of moving away from the city center and the tendency of high rental costs away from the CBD makes the number of residents near the city center high since it would be cheaper to live there than to reside in a place far from the central city. Furthermore, there are chances that you can find condominiums in regions that are more distant from the CBD, hence the concentration of the residence in the city center.
The important features of the model
The key feature of the concentric zone model is that there is a positive relationship between the economic status of families and the distance from the central business district. Therefore, it implies that wealthy families are further away from the city center than less wealthy families. According to Ernest Burgess (model developer), this changing model of families determines the process of “invasion” and “succession” in which the external growth of the CBD involves the invasion of neighboring residents, causing them to move outside, resulting in the expansion of the city .
The development of the city involves the transfer of growth pressure to the next neighborhood. Burgess also pointed out that most city center residents have low socio-economic status and immigrants. Therefore, as the city expands, this group of people moves to the neighboring residential areas, making the wealthy group move away from the city center.
Criticism towards the model
Several modern geographers have challenged the concentric zone model, claiming that it applies only to US cities. Furthermore, US cities are currently growing without clear areas due to technological and transport advances. Other criticisms of the model include its peculiar description of American geography and its assumption of an isotropic plan. The model also leaves out the concept of urban politics and does not fit polycentric cities.