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Fit Cover

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Fit

An Architect's Manifesto

Robert Geddes

Fit is a book about architecture and society that seeks to fundamentally change how architects and the public think about the task of design. Distinguished architect and urbanist Robert Geddes argues that buildings, landscapes, and cities should be designed to fit: fit the purpose, fit the place, fit future possibilities. Fit replaces old paradigms, such as form follows function, and less is more, by recognizing that the relationship between architecture and society is a true dialogue--dynamic, complex, and, if carried out with knowledge and skill, richly rewarding.

With a tip of the hat to John Dewey, Fit explores architecture as we experience it. Geddes starts with questions: Why do we design where we live and work? Why do we not just live in nature, or in chaos? Why does society care about architecture? Why does it really matter? Fit answers these questions through a fresh examination of the basic purposes and elements of architecture--beginning in nature, combining function and expression, and leaving a legacy of form.

Lively, charming, and gently persuasive, the book shows brilliant examples of fit: from Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia and Louis Kahn's Exeter Library to contemporary triumphs such as the Apple Store on New York's Fifth Avenue, Chicago's Millennium Park, and Seattle's Pike Place.

Fit is a book for everyone, because we all live in constructions--buildings, landscapes, and, increasingly, cities. It provokes architects and planners, humanists and scientists, civic leaders and citizens to reconsider what is at stake in architecture--and why it delights us.

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Fitzgerald

Geography of a Revolution

William Bunge

This on-the-ground study of one square mile in Detroit was written in collaboration with neighborhood residents, many of whom were involved with the famous Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute. Fitzgerald, at its core, is dedicated to understanding global phenomena through the intensive study of a small, local place.

Beginning with an 1816 encounter between the Ojibwa population and the neighborhood’s first surveyor, William Bunge examines the racialized imposition of local landscapes over the course of European American settlement. Historical events are firmly situated in space—a task Bunge accomplishes through liberal use of maps and frequent references to recognizable twentieth-century landmarks.

More than a work of historical geography, Fitzgerald is a political intervention. By 1967 the neighborhood was mostly African American; Black Power was ascendant; and Detroit would experience a major riot. Immersed in the daily life of the area, Bunge encouraged residents to tell their stories and to think about local politics in spatial terms. His desire to undertake a different sort of geography led him to create a work that was nothing like a typical work of social science. The jumble of text, maps, and images makes it a particularly urgent book—a major theoretical contribution to urban geography that is also a startling evocation of street-level Detroit during a turbulent era.

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Flammable Cities

Urban Conflagration and the Making of the Modern World

Greg Bankoff

In most cities today, fire has been reduced to a sporadic and isolated threat. But throughout history the constant risk of fire has left a deep and lasting imprint on almost every dimension of urban society. This volume, the first truly global study of urban conflagration, shows how fire has shaped cities throughout the modern world, from Europe to the imperial colonies, major trade entrepôts, and non-European capitals, right up to such present-day megacities as Lagos and Jakarta. Urban fire may hinder commerce or even spur it; it may break down or reinforce barriers of race, class, and ethnicity; it may serve as a pretext for state violence or provide an opportunity for displays of state benevolence. As this volume demonstrates, the many and varied attempts to master, marginalize, or manipulate fire can turn a natural and human hazard into a highly useful social and political tool.

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The Folklore of the Freeway

Race and Revolt in the Modernist City

Eric Avila


When the interstate highway program connected America’s cities, it also divided them, cutting through and destroying countless communities. Affluent and predominantly white residents fought back in a much heralded “freeway revolt,” saving such historic neighborhoods as Greenwich Village and New Orleans’s French Quarter. This book tells of the other revolt, a movement of creative opposition, commemoration, and preservation staged on behalf of the mostly minority urban neighborhoods that lacked the political and economic power to resist the onslaught of highway construction.

Within the context of the larger historical forces of the 1960s and 1970s, Eric Avila maps the creative strategies devised by urban communities to document and protest the damage that highways wrought. The works of Chicanas and other women of color—from the commemorative poetry of Patricia Preciado Martin and Lorna Dee Cervantes to the fiction of Helena Maria Viramontes to the underpass murals of Judy Baca—expose highway construction as not only a racist but also a sexist enterprise. In colorful paintings, East Los Angeles artists such as David Botello, Carlos Almaraz, and Frank Romero satirize, criticize, and aestheticize the structure of the freeway. Local artists paint murals on the concrete piers of a highway interchange in San Diego’s Chicano Park. The Rondo Days Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Black Archives, History, and Research Foundation in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami preserve and celebrate the memories of historic African American communities lost to the freeway.

Bringing such efforts to the fore in the story of the freeway revolt, The Folklore of the Freeway moves beyond a simplistic narrative of victimization. Losers, perhaps, in their fight against the freeway, the diverse communities at the center of the book nonetheless generate powerful cultural forces that shape our understanding of the urban landscape and influence the shifting priorities of contemporary urban policy.

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Ford--A Village in the West Highlands of Scotland

A Case Study of Repopulation and Social Change in a Small Community

John B. Stephenson

The Highlands of Scotland, like the southern Appalachians of the United States, have long been a problem area in Great Britain, troubled with a fading economy and loss of population. Most books about the region, however, are popular volumes that romanticize a bygone way of life. This study of Ford, a village of some 160 people in western Argyllshire, thus fills a gap in the literature and provides a look at the present realities of Scottish life.

Although the Highlands are by no means a homogeneous region, Ford in its size and makeup is perhaps a representative rural settlement. John Stephenson, who conducted extensive interviews in the village during 1981, focuses his study on the theme of survival, on whether this particular village shows signs of enduring as a community of people bound together by common interests and situations. Though necessarily tentative, his conclusions are optimistic. Ford has shown a recent increase in population, consisting almost entirely of newcomers, and though its residents have now a more varied background, they seem to have a sense of place, of belonging to the village.

This book will provide new insights not only for those interested in life in the Highlands but also for all those interested in small communities in other parts of the world.

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From Great Wilderness to Seaway Towns

A Comparative History of Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York, 1784-2001

From Great Wilderness to Seaway Towns adds a new dimension to the debate over the perceived differences between American and Canadian society. This fascinating case study examines two communities separated by the St. Lawrence River: Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York, from the end of the Revolutionary War to the present. Moving from the struggles of early settlers to industrialization and beyond, Claire Puccia Parham chronicles how the residents of both areas created similar social, political, and economic institutions because of their peripheral locations in a capitalist world system and their inherent congregational and democratic values. These distinctive views often brought them into conflict with national leaders.

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From the Ground Up

Translating Geography into Community through Neighbor Networks

Rick Grannis

Where do neighborhoods come from and why do certain resources and effects--such as social capital and collective efficacy--bundle together in some neighborhoods and not in others? From the Ground Up argues that neighborhood communities emerge from neighbor networks, and shows that these social relations are unique because of particular geographic qualities. Highlighting the linked importance of geography and children to the emergence of neighborhood communities, Rick Grannis models how neighboring progresses through four stages: when geography allows individuals to be conveniently available to one another; when they have passive contacts or unintentional encounters; when they actually initiate contact; and when they engage in activities indicating trust or shared norms and values.

Seamlessly integrating discussions of geography, household characteristics, and lifestyle, Grannis demonstrates that neighborhood communities exhibit dynamic processes throughout the different stages. He examines the households that relocate in order to choose their neighbors, the choices of interactions that develop, and the exchange of beliefs and influence that impact neighborhood communities over time. Grannis also introduces and explores two geographic concepts--t-communities and street islands--to capture the subtle features constraining residents' perceptions of their environment and community.

Basing findings on thousands of interviews conducted through door-to-door canvassing in the Los Angeles area as well as other neighborhood communities, From the Ground Up reveals the different ways neighborhoods function and why these differences matter.

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Gateway to Vacationland

The Making of Portland, Maine

John F. Bauman

Situated on a peninsula jutting into picturesque Casco Bay, Portland has long been admired for its geographical setting—the “beautiful city by the sea,” as native son Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called it. At the same time, Portland’s deep, ice-free port has made it an ideal site for the development of coastal commerce and industry. Much of the city’s history, John F. Bauman shows, has been defined by the effort to reconcile the competing interests generated by these attributes—to balance the imperatives of economic growth with a desire to preserve Portland’s natural beauty. Caught in the crossfire of British and French imperial ambitions throughout the colonial era, Portland emerged as a prosperous shipbuilding center and locus of trade in the decades following the American Revolution. During the nineteenth century it became a busy railroad hub and winter port for Canadian grain until a devastating fire in 1866 reduced much of the city to ruins. Civic leaders responded by reinventing Portland as a tourist destination, building new hotels, parks, and promenades, and proclaiming it the “Gateway to Vacationland.” After losing its grain trade in the 1920s and suffering through the Great Depression, Portland withered in the years following World War II as it wrestled with the problems of deindustrialization, suburbanization, and an aging downtown. Efforts at urban renewal met with limited success until the 1980s, when a concerted plan of historic preservation and the restoration of the Old Port not only revived the tourist trade but eventually established Portland as one of America’s “most livable cities.”

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Gendered Paradoxes

Women's Movements, State Restructuring, and Global Development in Ecuador

Amy Lind

Since the early 1980s Ecuador has experienced a series of events unparalleled in its history. Its “free market” strategies exacerbated the debt crisis, and in response new forms of social movement organizing arose among the country’s poor, including women’s groups. Gendered Paradoxes focuses on women’s participation in the political and economic restructuring process of the past twenty-five years, showing how in their daily struggle for survival Ecuadorian women have both reinforced and embraced the neoliberal model yet also challenged its exclusionary nature. Drawing on her extensive ethnographic fieldwork and employing an approach combining political economy and cultural politics, Amy Lind charts the growth of several strands of women’s activism and identifies how they have helped redefine, often in contradictory ways, the real and imagined boundaries of neoliberal development discourse and practice. In her analysis of this ambivalent and “unfinished” cultural project of modernity in the Andes, she examines state policies and their effects on women of various social sectors; women’s community development initiatives and responses to the debt crisis; and the roles played by feminist “issue networks” in reshaping national and international policy agendas in Ecuador and in developing a transnationally influenced, locally based feminist movement.

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Global Decisions, Local Collisions: Urban Life In The New World Order

The politics of the past must be rethought. They were designed for a world where the U.S. manufactured at home, and where portions of U.S.-based labor had traded social stability for high wages. In this thought-provoking work, David Ranney shows how our world has changed and offers a plan for remaking progressive politics to meet the crises brought about by what George H. W. Bush first termed "the new world order. "Drawing from his experiences in Chicago politics, first as a factory worker and later as an activist and academic, Ranney shows how the increasing mobility of capital, the easy availability of credit, and a changing government policies have reshaped the urban world where U.S. workers live their everyday lives. This is not the story of the interconnectedness of modern business, but rather the need for self-respecting people who bring home a weekly paycheck to see the common, global problems they face, and to work together to bring about meaningful change.Showing how globalization has led to specific local consequences for cities and the workers that inhabit them, David Ranney presents a means for taking stock of the effects of globalization; a look at these changes in labor markets; economic development politics; housing policy; and employment policies; and an organizing strategy for this new economic and social era.

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