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Cultures of the City Cover

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Cultures of the City

Mediating Identities in Urban Latin/o America

Edited by Richard Young and Amanda Holmes

Cultures of the City explores the cultural mediations of relationships between people and urban spaces in Latin/o America and how these shape the identities of cities and their residents. The contributors to this volume examine identity and the sense of place and belonging that connect people to urban environments, relating these to considerations of ethnicity, social and economic class, gender, everyday life, and cultural practices. They also consider history and memory and the making of places through the iterative performance of social practices. As such, places are works in progress, a condition that is particularly evident in contemporary Latin/o American cities where the opposition between local and global influences is a prominent facet of daily life. These core issues are theorized further in an afterword by Abril Trigo, who takes the preceding chapters as a point of departure for a discussion of the dialectics of identity in the Latin/o American global city.

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Dangerous or Endangered?

Race and the Politics of Youth in Urban America

Jennifer Tilton, 0, 0

“This compelling book reveals a disturbing trend towards widening, racialized social class divisions among children growing up in U.S. cities. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork in affluent and impoverished areas of Oakland, Tilton maps varied forms of community mobilization around children and youth. Beautifully observed, astutely analyzed, and directly relevant to current debates about ways of restoring a sense of the public good in an era of privatization.”

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David Dinkins and New York City Politics

Race, Images, and the Media

As the first African American elected mayor of New York City, David Dinkins underwent intense scrutiny—first from the black community, then from white liberal supporters, the media, and the city’s electorate. Wilbur C. Rich focuses on the critical role played by the New York City media in the perception of mayoral leadership. Using interviews and words of journalists, Rich examines media coverage as both the architect and challenger of Dinkins’ image. The making and unmaking of David Dinkins not only exposes much about the agency of African American politicians, but also reveals the fragility of electoral coalitions.

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Deflecting Immigration

Networks, Markets, and Regulation in Los Angeles

As international travel became cheaper and national economies grew more connected over the past thirty years, millions of people from the Third World emigrated to richer countries. A tenth of the population of Mexico relocated to the United States between 1980 and 2000. Globalization theorists claimed that reception cities could do nothing about this trend, since nations make immigration policy, not cities. In Deflecting Immigration, sociologist Ivan Light shows how Los Angeles reduced the sustained, high-volume influx of poor Latinos who settled there by deflecting a portion of the migration to other cities in the United States. In this manner, Los Angeles tamed globalization’s local impact, and helped to nationalize what had been a regional immigration issue. Los Angeles deflected immigration elsewhere in two ways. First, the protracted network-driven settlement of Mexicans naturally drove up rents in Mexican neighborhoods while reducing immigrants’ wages, rendering Los Angeles a less attractive place to settle. Second, as migration outstripped the city’s capacity to absorb newcomers, Los Angeles gradually became poverty-intolerant. By enforcing existing industrial, occupational, and housing ordinances, Los Angeles shut down some unwanted sweatshops and reduced slums. Their loss reduced the metropolitan region’s accessibility to poor immigrants without reducing its attractiveness to wealthier immigrants. Additionally, ordinances mandating that homes be built on minimum-sized plots of land with attached garages made home ownership in L.A.’s suburbs unaffordable for poor immigrants and prevented low-cost rental housing from being built. Local rules concerning home occupancy and yard maintenance also prevented poor immigrants from crowding together to share housing costs. Unable to find affordable housing or low-wage jobs, approximately one million Latinos were deflected from Los Angeles between 1980 and 2000. The realities of a new global economy are still unfolding, with uncertain consequences for the future of advanced societies, but mass migration from the Third World is unlikely to stop in the next generation. Deflecting Immigration offers a shrewd analysis of how America’s largest immigrant destination independently managed the challenges posed by millions of poor immigrants and, in the process, helped focus attention on immigration as an issue of national importance.

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Degraded Work

The Struggle at the Bottom of the Labor Market

Marc Doussard

Critics on the left and the right typically agree that globalization, the loss of manufacturing jobs, and the expansion of the service sector have led to income inequality and rising numbers of low-paying jobs with poor working conditions.

In Degraded Work, Marc Doussard demonstrates that this decline in wages and working conditions is anything but the unavoidable result of competitive economic forces. Rather, he makes the case that service sector and other local-serving employers have boosted profit with innovative practices to exploit workers, demeaning their jobs in new ways—denying safety equipment, fining workers for taking scheduled breaks, requiring unpaid overtime—that go far beyond wage cuts. Doussard asserts that the degradation of service work is a choice rather than an inevitability, and he outlines concrete steps that can be taken to help establish a fairer postindustrial labor market.

Drawing on fieldwork in Chicago, Degraded Work examines changes in two industries in which inferior job quality is assumed to be intrinsic: residential construction and food retail. In both cases, Doussard shows how employers degraded working conditions as part of a successful and intricate strategy to increase profits. Arguing that a growing service sector does not have to mean growing inequality, Doussard proposes creative policy and organizing opportunities that workers and advocates can use to improve job quality despite the overwhelming barriers to national political action.

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Desegregating the City

Ghettos, Enclaves, and Inequality

Desegregating the City takes a global, multidisciplinary look at segregation and the strengths and weaknesses of different antisegregation strategies in the United States and other developed countries. In contrast to previous works focusing exclusively on racial ghettos (products of coercion), this book also discusses ethnic enclaves (products of choice) in cities like Belfast, Toronto, Amsterdam, and New York. Since 9/11 the ghetto-enclave distinction has become blurred as crime and disorder have emanated from both European immigrant ethnic enclaves and America’s ghettos. The contributors offer a variety of tools for addressing the problems of racial and income segregation, including school integration, area-based “fair share” housing requirements, place-based mixed-income housing development, and expanded demand-side residential subsidy options such as housing vouchers. By exploring these alternatives and their consequences, Desegregating the City provides the basis for a combination of flexible antisegregation strategies.

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Detroit Divided

Unskilled workers once flocked to Detroit, attracted by manufacturing jobs paying union wages, but the passing of Detroit's manufacturing heyday has left many of those workers stranded. Manufacturing continues to employ high-skilled workers, and new work can be found in suburban service jobs, but the urban plants that used to employ legions of unskilled men are a thing of the past. The authors explain why white auto workers adjusted to these new conditions more easily than blacks. Taking advantage of better access to education and suburban home loans, white men migrated into skilled jobs on the city's outskirts, while blacks faced the twin barriers of higher skill demands and hostile suburban neighborhoods. Some blacks have prospered despite this racial divide: a black elite has emerged, and the shift in the city toward municipal and service jobs has allowed black women to approach parity of earnings with white women. But Detroit remains polarized racially, economically, and geographically to a degree seen in few other American cities.  

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Digital Tools in Urban Schools

Mediating a Remix of Learning

Jabari Mahiri

"Today there is massive interest in how digital tools and popular culture are transforming learning out of school and lots of dismay at how digitally lost our schools are. Jabari Mahiri works his usual magic and here shows us how to cross this divide in a solidly grounded and beautifully written book." ---James Paul Gee, Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Arizona State University "Digital Tools in Urban Schools is a profoundly sobering yet inspiring depiction of the potential for committed educators to change the lives of urban youth, with the assistance of a new set of technical capabilities." ---Mimi Ito, Professor in Residence and MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning, Departments of Informatics and Anthropology, University of California, Irvine "An uplifting book that addresses a critical gap in existing literature by providing rich and important insights into ways teachers, administrators, and members of the wider community can work together with students previously alienated---even excluded---from formal education to enhance classroom learning with appropriate digital tools and achieve inspiring results under challenging circumstances." ---Colin Lankshear, James Cook University, and Michele Knobel, Montclair State University Digital Tools in Urban Schools demonstrates significant ways in which high school teachers in the complex educational setting of an urban public high school in northern California extended their own professional learning to revitalize learning in their classrooms. Through a novel research collaboration between a university and this public school, these teachers were supported and guided in developing the skills necessary to take greater advantage of new media and new information sources to increase student learning while making connections to their relevant experiences and interests. Jabari Mahiri draws on extensive qualitative data---including blogs, podcasts, and other digital media---to document, describe, and analyze how the learning of both students and teachers was dramatically transformed as they utilized digital media in their classrooms. Digital Tools in Urban Schools will interest instructional leaders and participants in teacher preparation and professional development programs, education and social science researchers and scholars, graduate and undergraduate programs and classes emphasizing literacy and learning, and those focused on urban education issues and conditions.

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