Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect


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In particular, the Project examined the pathways to juvenile delinquency, adult crime, substance abuse, and violence. At the same time, the Project also provided a detailed look at the environments in which these social behaviors take place by collecting substantial amounts of data about urban Chicago, including its people, institutions, and resources.

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The Project's design consisted of two major components. The first was an intensive study of Chicago's neighborhoods, particularly the social, economic, organizational, political, and cultural structures and the dynamic changes that take place in the structures over time. The second component was a series of coordinated longitudinal studies that followed over 6, randomly selected children, adolescents, and young adults to examine the changing circumstances of their lives and the personal characteristics that might lead them toward or away from a variety of antisocial behaviors. Sampson, Robert J.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

a book review by Stephen Roulac: Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

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For over fifty years numerous public intellectuals and social theorists have insisted that community is dead. Some would have us believe that we act solely as individuals choosing our own fates regardless of our surroundings, while other theories place us at the mercy of global forces beyond our control.

Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

These two perspectives dominate contemporary views of society, but by rejecting the importance of place they are both deeply flawed. The strip malls that line cities and suburbs across the country come quickly to my mind, uniformly ugly in the same way no matter where they alight. Even cities as a whole are thought by many to be interchangeable; if we can be anywhere, then nowhere in particular stands out.

And even if we cannot literally be anywhere, we can be elsewhere aided by profound advances in technology.

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Setting aside the suspicion that only the privileged elite enjoy a global playing field, there are also good empirical reasons to take seriously the questioning of place and concepts like neighborhood or community. Social-network theorists have shown us that urbanites create nonspatial communities that cross-cut geographic ones. Metropolitan dwellers might not know their neighbors on an intimate basis, but they are likely to build viable sets of social relations spread across the city, state, country, and increasingly the world.

In an influential paper in the late s, Barry Wellman referred to this as "community liberated," or what might be thought of as community beyond propinquity.

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Perhaps place is phantasmagorical and community lost. With all the emphasis on new forms of alienation from traditional forms of community, it may come as a surprise to learn that intellectual and public concern with the decline of community is longstanding and finds vigor in every historical period.

Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

Today's manifestations might be unique but not the perceived problem. In the most abstract version the theme of declining community and yearning for renewal finds its roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition: Eden became sin city and salvation still awaits. Karl Marx was secular but the promise of community after the overthrow of capitalism was unmistakable and launched societal revolutions. The entire discipline of sociology, in fact, was founded on the upheavals of the late nineteenth century widely thought to have frayed the social fabric of "Gemeinschaft" community.

Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

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