Divided We Stand?
ON CHICAGO'S FLAT, FEATURELESS EXPANSE, people have long been accustomed to making their own geography, whether in brick and mortar or in that less
visible yet most important feature of the city: the
Chicago’s communities grew around the waves of immigrants that swarmed to the city in the 19th century —
Poles, Germans, Swedes and Bohemians, Irish, Italians, Jews, and blacks. Through their church boards and civic leagues, institutions built to a more human scale, they provided stability amidst the city’s impatient change. But with their clear boundaries and clear distinctions between races, classes, and ethnic groups, the neighborhoods could also be impenetrable, inhospitable, sometimes violently reactionary.
There Goes the Neighborhood, a new book by William Julius Wilson, Geyser University Professor at Harvard University and Richard P. Taub, professor of social sciences and public policy at the University of Chicago, looks at
how those changes continue to shape Chicago and its residents today.
An ethnographic study, the book is the fruit of two-and-a-half years of field research in the mid-1990s in four actual neighborhoods, renamed as Beltway, Dover, Archer Park, and Groveland to
provide a measure of anonymity to the often
The book finds a city in flux, with Latinos adding a third dimension to the city’s already complicated racial and ethnic dynamic. As their numbers rapidly increase, they begin to move into traditionally white neighborhoods, as blacks did following the second great migration from the rural South, starting in the 1940s.
The neighborhoods all deal with change, or the threat of change, in different ways. Whether it’s Dover’s tense confrontation between whites and Latinos, and the whites’ subsequent departure, or the tenacious stance taken by the middle-class residents of primarily white Beltway and black Groveland, the communities’ reactions to change are in large part determined by the strength of their social fabric.
“Strong neighborhoods often remain so in opposition to other groups of people,” the authors conclude somberly on the double-edged sword that is community strength. “Together, these forces work against the notion of intergroup harmony and integration in neighborhoods, schools, and the overall society that underlies the U.S. ideal.”
The book also finds that one common concern among the four very different neighborhoods “was the prevalence of crime and other social dislocations in nearby black ghetto neighborhoods.” In this, the book is a reminder that “underlying much of the racial and class tensions in urban areas is the unresolved question of how to address the needs of low-income urban black residents.”
But the book also offers a note of hope. When interests coincide, such as when Latinos and whites join forces against an autocratic school council in Beltway, groups can form across racial and ethnic lines. And the ability to see that coincidence of interests, the book suggests, is perhaps the city’s best hope. “Cities need leaders who can somehow persuade middle- and low-income residents of the metropolitan region to make common cause, to realize that their lives inevitably intersect.” — RDO
The Life and Times of Thomas Schelling
Robert Dodge MPA 1990
The innocuous sounding field of game theory has had some very real consequences since its creation in the mid-20th century, and no one more clearly symbolized the incredible breadth of its applications than Thomas Schelling, former Kennedy School professor and Nobel Prize winner. Robert Dodge traces Schelling’s early life and his unlikely path from economist to nuclear and foreign policy strategist, where his intellectual influence played a key role in such Cold War hot spots as Berlin and Vietnam.
No More States?
Globalization, National Self-determination, and Terrorism
Edited by Richard Rosecrance and
Arthur A. Stein
The community of nations has been on something of a tear since the Second World War. Its ranks have swelled until now there are about 200 sovereign states. But that “trend in political scale has begun to reverse,” writes Richard Rosecrance, adjunct professor and senior fellow at the Belfer Center, as countries “have aimed to regain the advantages of bigness.” No More States?, which looks at this phenomenon’s impact on such forces as terrorism and separatist movements, attributes much of this to the onward march of globalization, whose net effect has been to “dwarf political units.”
Transnational Civil Society
Edited by L. David Brown and Srilatha Batliwala
The history of transnational civil society organizations is long and distinguished, counting among its successes the abolition of slavery and the expansion of women’s suffrage. But with globalization, the rise of transnational civil society organizations has grown exponentially. The Hauser Center’s L. David Brown and Srilatha Batliwala have put together an introduction to the movement’s history and characteristics.
The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and
Hollis Robbins MPP 1990
Both Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous ante-bellum book on the cruelty of slavery, and its title character have experienced the great highs and lows of public approbation and mockery. Now, as a new cycle of appreciation appears to be starting, comes The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin, part of an annotated classics series. Edited by Harvard English Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Hollis Robbins, the book contains not only a wealth of historical information, but also a pointed defense of the book’s literary value.