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The Los Angeles Plaza Cover

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The Los Angeles Plaza

Sacred and Contested Space

By William David Estrada

City plazas worldwide are centers of cultural expression and artistic display. They are settings for everyday urban life where daily interactions, economic exchanges, and informal conversations occur, thereby creating a socially meaningful place at the core of a city. At the heart of historic Los Angeles, the Plaza represents a quintessential public space where real and imagined narratives overlap and provide as many questions as answers about the development of the city and what it means to be an Angeleno. The author, a social and cultural historian who specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Los Angeles, is well suited to explore the complex history and modern-day relevance of the Los Angeles Plaza. From its indigenous and colonial origins to the present day, Estrada explores the subject from an interdisciplinary and multiethnic perspective, delving into the pages of local newspapers, diaries and letters, and the personal memories of former and present Plaza residents, in order to examine the spatial and social dimensions of the Plaza over an extended period of time. The author contributes to the growing historiography of Los Angeles by providing a groundbreaking analysis of the original core of the city that covers a long span of time, space, and social relations. He examines the impact of change on the lives of ordinary people in a specific place, and how this change reflects the larger story of the city.

Love, Sorrow, And Rage Cover

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Love, Sorrow, And Rage

Alisse Waterston

Love, Sorrow, and Rage gives powerful voice to women like Nora Gaines and Dixie Register, who tell use what it's like to live on the streets of New York, how it feels to lose your mind, about the taste of crack cocaine and the sweetness of friendship. In this novel-like narrative of homelessness and hope, poor women share a table, their meals, and their intimacies with author Alisse Waterston. On the pages of this impassioned ethnography, Waterston puts mythic, demonized bag ladies to rest, and in so doing, brings ordinary women to life.

From drug addiction and the spread of AIDS to the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S., the topics in this book get front-page coverage in daily newspapers across the country. Waterston seeks to understand, to explain, and to solve the human crisis that surrounds us. Towards this end, she challenges us to look at the ways in which our society and the workings of our political, economic, and popular culture contribute to the suffering experienced by our most vulnerable citizens. An important corrective to popular depictions of the urban poor, Love, Sorrow, and Rage provides a penetrating analysis of the causes and consequences of poverty. It offers a deeper understanding of what leads to and perpetuates poverty and of the human complex of love, sorrow, and rage felt by those who experience it.

Love, Sorrow, and Rage will engage readers interested in urban studies, women's studies, social issues and policies, anthropology, sociology, political economy, and New York City life.

Majoritarian Cities Cover

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Majoritarian Cities

Policy Making and Inequality in Urban Politics

Neil Kraus

Neil Kraus evaluates both the influence of public opinion on local policy-making and the extent to which public policy addresses economic and social inequalities. Drawing on several years of fieldwork and multiple sources of data, including surveys and polls; initiatives, referenda, and election results; government documents; focus groups; interviews; and a wide assortment of secondary sources, Kraus presents case studies of two Midwestern cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Gary, Indiana. Specifically, he focuses on several major policy decisions in recent decades concerning education, law enforcement, and affordable housing in Minneapolis; and education and riverboat casino development in Gary. Kraus finds that, on these issues, local officials frequently take action that reflects public opinion, yet the resulting policies often fail to meet the needs of the disadvantaged or ameliorate the effects of concentrated poverty. In light of citizens’ current attitudes, he concludes that if patterns of inequality are to be more effectively addressed, scholars and policymakers must transform the debate about the causes and effects of inequality in urban and metropolitan settings.

Making a Promised Land Cover

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Making a Promised Land

Harlem in Twentieth-Century Photography and Film

Paula J. Massood

Making a Promised Land examines the interconnected histories of African American representation, urban life, and citizenship as documented in still and moving images of Harlem over the last century. Paula J. Massood analyzes how photography and film have been used over time to make African American culture visible to itself and to a wider audience and charts the ways in which the “Mecca of the New Negro” became a battleground in the struggle to define American politics, aesthetics, and citizenship. Visual media were first used as tools for uplift and education. With Harlem’s downturn in fortunes through the 1930s, narratives of black urban criminality became common in sociological tracts, photojournalism, and film. These narratives were particularly embodied in the gangster film, which was adapted to include stories of achievement, economic success, and, later in the century, a nostalgic return to the past. Among the films discussed are Fights of Nations (1907), Dark Manhattan (1937), The Cool World (1963), Black Caesar (1974), Malcolm X (1992), and American Gangster (2007). Massood asserts that the history of photography and film in Harlem provides the keys to understanding the neighborhood’s symbolic resonance in African American and American life, especially in light of recent urban redevelopment that has redefined many of its physical and demographic contours.

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Making the San Fernando Valley

Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege

Laura R. Barraclough

 

In the first book-length scholarly study of the San Fernando Valley—home to one-third of the population of Los Angeles—Laura R. Barraclough combines ambitious historical sweep with an on-theground investigation of contemporary life in this iconic western suburb. She is particularly intrigued by the Valley’s many rural elements, such as dirt roads, tack-and-feed stores, horse-keeping districts, citrus groves, and movie ranches. Far from natural or undeveloped spaces, these rural characteristics are, she shows, the result of deliberate urbanplanning decisions that have shaped the Valley over the course of more than a hundred years.
 
The Valley’s entwined history of urban development and rural preservation has real ramifications today for patterns of racial and class inequality and especially for the evolving meaning of whiteness. Immersing herself in meetings of homeowners’ associations, equestrian organizations, and redistricting committees, Barraclough uncovers the racial biases embedded in rhetoric about “open space” and “western heritage.” The Valley’s urban cowboys enjoy exclusive, semirural landscapes alongside the opportunities afforded by one of the world’s largest cities. Despite this enviable position, they have at their disposal powerful articulations of both white victimization and, with little contradiction, color-blind politics.

 

Manufacturing Suburbs: Building Work And Home Cover

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Manufacturing Suburbs: Building Work And Home

Urban historians have long portrayed suburbanization as the result of a bourgeois exodus from the city, coupled with the introduction of streetcars that enabled the middle class to leave the city for the more sylvan surrounding regions. Demonstrating that this is only a partial version of urban history, Manufacturing Suburbs reclaims the history of working-class suburbs by examining the development of industrial suburbs in the United States and Canada between 1850 and 1950. Contributors demonstrate that these suburbs developed in large part because of the location of manufacturing beyond city limits and the subsequent building of housing for the workers who labored within those factories. Through case studies of industrial suburbanization and industrial suburbs in several metropolitan areas (Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Montreal), Manufacturing Suburbs sheds light on a key phenomenon of metropolitan development before the Second World War.

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Memphis and the Paradox of Place

Globalization in the American South

Wanda Rushing

Using Memphis as a case study, Rushing explores the significance of place in a globalizing age. Challenging the view that globalization renders place generic or insignificant, Rushing argues that cultural and economic distinctiveness persists in part because of global processes, not in spite of them. Rushing weaves her analysis into stories about the history and global impact of blues music, the social and racial complexities of Cotton Carnival, and the global rise of FedEx, headquartered in Memphis. She portrays Memphis as a site of cultural creativity and global industry--a city whose traditions, complex past, and specific character have had an influence on culture worldwide.

Metropolitan Philadelphia Cover

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Metropolitan Philadelphia

Living with the Presence of the Past

By Steven Conn

As America's fifth largest city and fourth largest metropolitan region, Philadelphia is tied to its surrounding counties and suburban neighborhoods. It is this vital relationship, suggests Steven Conn, that will make or break greater Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia region has witnessed virtually every major political, economic, and social transformation of American life. Having once been an industrial giant, the region is now struggling to fashion a new identity in a postindustrial world. On the one hand, Center City has been transformed into a vibrant hub with its array of restaurants, shops, cultural venues, and restored public spaces. On the other, unchecked suburban sprawl has generated concerns over rising energy costs and loss of agriculture and open spaces. In the final analysis, the region will need a dynamic central city for its future, while the city will also need a healthy sustainable region for its long-term viability.

Central to the identity of a twenty-first century Metropolitan Philadelphia, Conn argues, is the deep and complicated interplay of past and present. Looking at the region through the wide lens of its culture and history, Metropolitan Philadelphia moves seamlessly between past and present. Displaying a specialist's knowledge of the area as well as a deep personal connection to his subject, Conn examines the shifting meaning of the region's history, the utopian impulse behind its founding, the role of the region in creating the American middle class, the regional watershed, and the way art and cultural institutions have given shape to a resident identity.

Impressionistic and beautifully written, Metropolitan Philadelphia will be of great interest to urbanists and at the same time accessible to the wider public intrigued in the rich history and cultural dynamics of this fascinating region. What emerges from the book is a wide-ranging understanding of what it means to say, "I'm from Philadelphia."

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Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil

Michael A. Pagano

Cities, counties, school districts and other local governments have suffered a long-lasting period of fiscal challenges since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007. Metropolitan governments continue to adjust to the "new normal" of sharply lower property values, consumer sales, and personal income. Contributors to this volume include elected officials, academics, key people in city administrations, and other nationally recognized experts who discuss solutions to the urban problems created by the Great Recession. Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil looks at the capacity of local governments to mobilize resources efficiently and effectively, as well as the overall effects of the long-term economic downturn on quality of life. Introducing the reader to the fiscal effects of the Great Recession on cities, the book examines the initial fraying and subsequent mending of the social safety net, the opportunities for pursuing economic development strategies, the challenges of inter-jurisdictional cooperation, and the legacy costs of pension liabilities and infrastructure decay. Contributors are Phil Ashton, Raphael Bostic, Richard Feiock, Rachel A. Gordon, Rebecca Hendrick, Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, David Merriman, Richard Nathan, Michael A. Pagano, Breeze Richardson, Annette Steinacker, Nik Theodore, Rachel Weber, and Margaret Weir.

Model City Blues Cover

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Model City Blues

Urban Space and Organized Resistance in New Haven

Mandi Isaacs Jackson

Model City Blues tells the story of how regular people, facing a changing city landscape, fought for their own model of the “ideal city” by creating grassroots plans for urban renewal. Filled with vivid descriptions of significant moments in a protracted struggle, it offers a street-level account of organized resistance to institutional plans to transform New Haven, Connecticut in the 1960s. Anchored in the physical spaces and political struggles of the city, it brings back to center stage the individuals and groups who demanded that their voices be heard.

By reexamining the converging class- and race-based movements of 1960s New Haven, Mandi Jackson helps to explain the city's present-day economic and political struggles. More broadly, by closely analyzing particular sites of resistance in New Haven, Model City Blues employs multiple academic disciplines to redefine and reimagine the roles of everyday city spaces in building social movements and creating urban landscapes.

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