URBAN SOCIOLOGY

Soc. 218 Rick Fantasia
Smith College Pierce Hall 005
Fall 1999s Ext. 3504
Office Hours: Mon. 11-12:00 Thurs. 1:30-2:30 or by app't.

In this course we'll treat the city as the site and as a metaphor for the history, social relations, problems, and conflicts of the larger social structure in which it is located. In general, the course readings, lectures, and class discussions will be geared toward viewing the city as simultaneously a social, a cultural, and a political economic phenomenon, with particular attention to the following concerns: a) urbanization and the place of the city in the modernizing process; b) post WWII changes in urban space (i.e...urban renewal, suburbanization, and "gentrification") and their relationship to wealth, poverty, and homelessness in American society; c) the city as a locus of ethnic, racial, gender, and class relations, interactions, and conflicts; d) strategies of urban "revitalization" and the future of the "postmodern" city.

Throughout the course a variety of approaches to urban life and change will be considered through a running dialogue between social theory and the empirical world of urban experience, in order to provide a basis for evaluating the various perspectives. In addition to the analytical descriptions of particular cities found in the course readings (Paris, New York, Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles are the most prominent), we will draw upon impressions and observations of  local cities in order to "ground" our thinking as much as possible.

The class will generally consist of a mixture of lecture and discussion. Students are expected to attend class regularly and to contribute fully to the life of the course. Preparation for class meetings, as well as vibrant and reasoned class participation is expected. Evaluation will be based largely on three essay exams (with attendance and participation figuring in the resolution of any differential in averaging final grades):

-a "take-home" essay exam worth one-third of the final grade(due October 21st.);
-an in-class essay exam worth one-third of the final grade (on November 11th.);
-a final "take-home" essay exam worth one-third of final grade (due December 21st.

Books for purchase (available at the bookstore on Green Street):

-Mike Davis,
City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in L.A.(Verso, 1990)
-Philip Kasinitz (Ed.)
Metropolis: Center and Symbol of Our Times (NYU Press, 1995)
-Enzo Mingione (Ed.)
Urban Poverty and the Underclass: A Reader (Blackwell, 1996)
-Alejandro Portes and Alex Stepick,
City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami (U. of California Press, 1993.)
-Sharon Zukin,
Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change (Rutgers U. Press,  1989)

            -In addition to the books listed above, an additional packet of readings has been prepared and is available for purchase at Paradise Copies, 30 Crafts Avenue in Northampton.

 

READING SCHEDULE

I. The Emergence of the Modern City (9/9-9/21)

            A.  A Brief History of the Pre-Modern World (9/9);

            B. The City-As-Workshop vs. The City-As-Marketplace (9/14-9/16)

Readings:
-H. Pirenne, Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe (Chaps. I, II, VI in packet);
-M. Dobb, Studies in the Development of Capitalism (Chap. entitled "The Decline of Feudalism and the Growth of Towns", in packet).
-F. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (Chaps. entitled "The Industrial Proletariat" and "The Great Towns" in packet).

            C. Modernism and the City (9/21):

 Readings:
-P. Kasinitz, "Introduction" to Metropolis;  
-W. Benjamin, "Paris, Capital of the 19th C.", Ch. 4 in Metropolis;
-Le Corbusier, "New York is not a Completed City", Ch.7 in Metropolis;
-D. Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, (Chap. entitled "Modernity and Modernism" in packet);

II. Urbanity, Community, and the Ecology of the City (9/23-10/14)

            A. Urbanity and Community (9/23-10/5)

Readings: All from Metropolis:
-G. Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life" (Chap. 3);
-J. Jacobs, "The Uses of Sidewalks" (Chap. 8);
-M. Berman, "In the Forest of Symbols" (Chap. 9);
-E. Anderson, "Street Etiquette and Street Wisdom" (Chap. 19);
-R. Sennett, "Community Becomes Uncivilized" (Chap.14);
-J. Bensman and A. Vidich, "Race, Ethnicity, and New Forms of Urban Community" (Chap. 12).

            B. Urban Ecology (10/7-10/14)

Readings: (from Metropolis):
-L. Wirth, "Urbanism as a Way of Life" (Ch.5);
-H. Gans, "Urbanism and Suburbanism as Ways of Life" (Ch 11).

           Take home exam due on Tues. Oct. 21st (in class)

 III. The Social Bases of Postwar Urban Change

            A. Suburbanization and Social Inequality (10/19-10/21)

Readings:
-P.J. Ashton, "Urbanization and the Dynamics of Suburban Development Under Capitalism" (packet);
-B. Checkoway, "Large Builders, Federal Housing Programs, and Postwar Suburbanization" (packet);

-S. Saegert, "Masculine Cities and Feminine Suburbs" (packet);

-G. Wekerle, "Women in the Urban Environment" packet);

            B. Urban Renewal, "Gentrification", and Displacement (10/26-11/9)

Readings:
S. Zukin, Loft Living (entire book)
N. Kleniewski, "From Industrial to Corporate City: The Role of Urban Renewal" (packet)
R. Beauregard, "The Chaos and Complexity of Gentrification", in packet
P. Marcuse, "Abandonment, Gentrification, and Displacement: the linkages in NYC" (packet)
P. Dreier, "Urban Politics and Progressive Housing Policy: Ray Flynn and Boston's Neighborhood Agenda" (packet)
B. Erlich and P. Dreier, “The New Boston Discovers the Old: Tourism and the Struggle for a Livable City” (packet)

Two films: "Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston" and “Holding Ground” to be screened on  Thurs. Nov. 4th (Please bring bag lunch to this class session).

In-class exam on Thurs. Nov. 11th

IV. Poverty in the "Postmodern" City 

            A. The Social Bases of Urban Poverty: Material and Symbolic Dimensions (11/16-11/23)

Readings:
-E. Mingione, Urban Poverty and the Underclass, (selections to be announced)

            B. A Tale of  Two “Postmodern” Cities: Miami and Los Angeles: (11/30-12/14) 

Readings:
-M. Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (entire book)
-A. Portes and A. Stepick,  City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami (entire book)

Final take-home exam due on last day of exam period (12/21/99)