By Richard Dennis
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Extra info for A Social Geography of England and Wales
Membership permitted the chance of participation in civic life and might influence the spatial organization of urban life. For Vance the gilds were crucial instruments for explaining city form but for Sjoberg they were of minor importance. Both scholars emphasized that pre-industrial cities contained many foci, each with its own shops and workplaces and housing for a wide social spectrum, but Vance recognized that some high status groups might acquire wealth and would then occupy central locations in what he termed 'merchant cities'.
Throughout pre-industrial times most boroughs and even cathedral cities contained fewer than 5,000 residents. Taking a different kind of definition, Gregory King estimated that England's market towns and provincial cities contained about 870,000 people in 1688 (16 per cent of the total). A further 4,100,000 people (74 per cent) were country folk and the remaining 530,000 (10 per cent) were Londoners. London was a giant, with the next most populous cities (Bristol, Norwich and York) housing only 25—30,000 people apiece.
222). By the late seventeenth century there were few parishes, save perhaps in some of the most remote regions, that remained largely selfsufficient and many of these were soon to be affected by seasonal if not permanent outmigration. However, as Laslett (1971) has explained, "to be a social unit conscious of itself, and removed, distinct from others, it was not necessary for the village community to be cut off from interchange with its companions. On the contrary, it was in perpetual negotiation with its neighbours, and this was an essential of its individuality" (pp.