Urban Inequality

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The contemporary field of urban sociology provides substantive examinations that engage both a macro- and micro-lens into the construction of urban spaces and inequalities. In the discussion that follows I address some of the leading theories and common threads that enable urban sociologists to engage in the comprehensive examination of how and why urban inequality persists. In the final section, I draw upon theorists and propose a research perspective that I believe might help to further advance the sociological inquiry of urban inequality. Through the Macro-Lens: Local/State/National and Global Actors In the early tradition of the Chicago School, theorists engaged an urban ecological lens that viewed cities as symbiotic, naturally evolving spaces that expanded through a process of organic succession to generate the organization of city life (Burgess, 1925; Park, 1936). Since the 1960’s, the purview of contemporary urban sociology has shifted to engage a macro-lens that examines how larger social, economic and political factors shape the urban landscape more broadly. Counter to urban ecological theory, these scholars show how the spatial logics of cities and urban inequality are shaped and produced by local/state, national and global political and economic actors (Castells, 1978; Dreier et al. 2004; Gieryn, 2000; Harvey, 2012; Jargowsky, 1997; Logan and Molotch, 1987; Sampson, 2012; Sassen, 2006; Swanstrom et al., Wilson, 1996). Engaging this lens, we then see how the socio-spatial construction of urban spaces directly constructs unequal urban spaces that afford greater opportunities and benefits to some, while diminishing the opportunities of others. In this way, the macro-lens reveals the multiple levels of agency in th... ... middle of paper ... ...CA: Pine Forge Press. Shlay, Anne B. and Gordon Whitman. 2006. Research for Democracy: Linking Community Organizing and Research to Leverage Blight Policy.” City and Community. 5(2): 153-171. Squires, Gregory, 2002. “To Grow or Not to Grow: That is Not the Question.” City and Community 2(1): 27-31. Swanstrom, Peter Dreier, and John Mollenkopf. 2002. “Economic Inequality and Public Policy: The Power of Place.” City and Community 1(4): 349-372. Warner, Jr., Sam B. 1962. Streetcar Suburbs. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press and MIT Press. Wilson, William Julius. 1996. When Work Disappears. University of Chicago Press. Wilson, William J. 1987. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Zukin, Sharon. 2010. Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places.
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