Join us Tuesday, Feb. 12 from 12-1:20 in SS 401 for a presentation by Nora Taplin, Ph.D. Student, Department of Sociology

By , February 10, 2013 8:55 am

The Uses of Foursquare: Location-Based Online Social Networking in Both Online and Offline Social Experience


New technologies, such as smartphones that contain both GPS and Internet capability, are connecting physical and online social realms. One type of platform that makes use of this connection between physical and virtual social space is the location based social network (LBSN). This paper asks: how do people integrate the use of LBSNs into their online and physical social lives? I use semi-structured involved interviews with users of Foursquare (a popular LBSN) and online social network platform developers to understand this evolving technological space for social interaction. Participants in this study used Foursquare in five main ways gaming, creating a sense of belonging, engaging in conspicuous consumption, arranging in person meetings, and marketing. Foursquare users also differ in the extent to which they engage in passive or directed communication. Studies of traditional online social networks suggest that specific types of computer mediated communication have different implications for mental health.

Nora graduated from Swarthmore College in 2008 with a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology and Political Science. She received my M.A. in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 2011 and am currently in the Sociology PhD program there.

Jan Doering will serve as the discussant.

Two talks next week

By , January 31, 2013 2:37 pm

Next week, we are co-sponsoring two lectures with the Urban Network. The first will be a presentation of a paper by James DeFilippis, Associate Professor at Rutgers University entitled:  Questions and Dilemmas of Immigration, Social Justice, and the Right to the City.  It will be held on Tuesday, February 5, 12:00-1:15 in the Social Science Research Building, Room 401.

ABSTRACT: Transnational migration has (once again) been transforming American cities and American society over the course of the last 40 years.  This ongoing transformation raises a whole set of questions and dilemmas for researchers primarily concerned with justice.  Some of these questions are economic and rooted in the distribution of goods and resources in society, while others are less immediately tangible and rooted in questions of the very constitution of political communities.  Some of these questions are national in scale, while others are much more explicitly urban.  Most of these questions are under-explored by both those that study immigration and by those who theorize social justice and individual and collective rights in and to the city.  This paper will try to bridge these disparate conversations and make explicit questions and problems that are too often left under-discussed.  It does not provide any clear answers to most of these issues, but instead points to ways in which such questions and dilemmas might be addressed in both theory and practice.

The second talk by James DeFilippis, Associate Professor at Rutgers University and Phil Ashton, Associate Professor at University of Illinois at Chicago, will be held on Wednesday, February 6, 12:00-1:15, The Harris School of Public Policy, Seminar Room 232.  The talk is entitled: Now Where I’ll Find Comfort, God Knows, ‘Cause You Left Me Just When I Needed You Most: Non-Profits, Business Cycles and the Remaking of the American Welfare State.

ABSTRACT: One of the defining economic justifications for the welfare state has been its capacity to intervene counter-cyclically, propping up aggregate demand during economic recessions and cushioning the blow of a contracting economy on households. But as the US welfare regime has combined retrenchment with increasing reliance on the “shadow state” to provide goods and services, we argue that the net results have been a distinctive form of pro-cyclicality to US social policy. We argue that pro-cyclicality produces incentives for existing not-for-profits to expand their programming, and for new organizations to form, during boom periods, with a particular pattern to the expansion of the shadow state evident during the 1993-1998 and 2002-2007 periods. Correspondingly, we chart the dramatic contraction of those sectors – the number of organizations, and the scale of financial distress – since the 2007 financial crisis and the onset of recession. We conclude by assessing the broader implications of these boom-bust dynamics for the non-profitization of the American welfare regime.

We hope you can make it next week and to subsequent sessions!


Amy Khare & Jeffrey Parker, Co-coordinators of the Workshop on City, Society and Space

Winter 2013 Schedule

By , January 31, 2013 2:33 pm


Wednesday, February 6, 12:00-1:15, The Harris School of Public Policy, Seminar Room 232
“Now Where I’ll Find Comfort, God Knows, ‘Cause You Left Me Just When I Needed You Most: Non-Profits, Business Cycles and the Remaking of the American Welfare State”
James DeFilippis, Associate Professor, Rutgers University
Phil Ashton, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

Tuesday, February 12, 12:00-1:15, Social Science Research Building, Room 401
“The Uses of Foursquare: Location-Based Online Social Networking in Both Online and Offline Social Experience”
Nora Taplin, Doctoral Student, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

Tuesday, February 19, 12:00-1:15, Social Science Research Building, Room 401
“What is a Spatial Scale?: A Contribution to the Theorization of Space and Region”
Ben Merriman, Doctoral Student, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

Tuesday, February 26, 12:00-1:15, Social Science Research Building, Room 401
“Place, mobility, and Jewish social dance in postwar Philadelphia”
Meredith Aska McBride, Doctoral Student, Department of Ethnomusicology, University of Chicago

Thursday, February 28, 5:00-6:30, School of Social Service Administration, Room WIV
“Urban Policy in the Age of Obama: Role of Academia in Shaping Political Change”
Xavier de Souza Briggs, Associate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Co-sponsored by the Urban Network at the University of Chicago

Tuesday, March 5, 12:00-1:15, Social Science Research Building, Room 401
“The Street, the Row and the Hood: Place and Cultural Production in Music City”
Richard Lloyd, Associate Professor, Vanderbilt University

Tuesday, March 12, 12:00-1:15, Social Science Research Building, Room 401
“Learning neighborhoods”
Forest Gregg, Doctoral Student, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

The City, Society, and Space Workshop at the University of Chicago is sponsored by The Council on Advanced Studies. Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Jeffrey Parker in advance at For an advanced copy of the papers, email Amy Khare at

Welcome to Winter Quarter 2013!

By , January 9, 2013 12:35 pm

The first event of the Winter quarter will be a kick-off gathering on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in Social Sciences 401, where we will be having our meetings this quarter. Pizza will be served. We had an event like this last quarter, where students and faculty could discuss the directions they’d the workshop go, and we thought it was productive, so we’re doing it again. We’ll be starting presentations in the weeks to come, so look for a winter quarter schedule from us sometime early next week.In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Jeffrey Parker (, Sociology Ph.D student, co-coordinator

Amy Khare (, SSA Ph.D student, co-coordinator

Please join us in welcoming Phil Ashton (Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago)

By , April 26, 2012 11:14 am
Please join us in welcoming Phil Ashton (Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Thursday, May 3

SS 122 from 12:00-1:20

‘Placing’ the Financial State of Emergency

The study of financial regulation was among the foundations of urban political economy, which developed a significant vocabulary to conceptualize the role of the state in producing particular forms of social and spatial hierarchy through its postwar regulation of credit. However, this vocabulary has had to evolve through different phases in the development of financial markets, marked since the early 1970s by increasingly volatile international financial flows and the emergence of ‘stateless money.’ This sets the context for this paper, in which I seek to extend an analysis of financial regulation to better understand its contemporary role in structuring the ‘urban problematic’ (Dymski, 2009). I begin by charting changing state strategies relative to credit since the 1970s, arguing that the restructuring of US housing finance has followed a trajectory marked by increasing use of lender-of-last resort and other emergency powers. I then turn to the detailed practices of emergency interventions, arguing that their distinctive orientation towards the circulation of financial risk has made them constitutive of new social structures and spatialities of risk.

I make this argument by examining two critical moments in the recent history of US housing finance: the emergence of the subprime mortgage market out of the late 1980s banking crisis; and the extraordinary interventions of post-2007. A close analysis of these interventions demonstrates that they employ financial instruments and techniques to segment financial institutions and borrowers according to the risks they pose to bank or government balance sheets. As many of these techniques directly map onto earlier configurations of credit risk, emergency interventions come to function as their own form of financial exception or triage – isolating borrower segments or neighborhoods where the speculative development of markets came to ground in the most severe fashion. The results suggest how interventions to secure the safety and soundness of the financial system are setting in motion new geographies of uneven development

LaShandra P. Sullivan (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology)

By , April 16, 2012 10:01 am

Please join us in welcoming LaShandra P. Sullivan (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology). 

Thursday, April 19

SS 122 from 12:00-1:20

Protest Camps and Agroindustrial Rurality-Urbanity in Brazil

Prior to democratization in 1988, Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1988) used explicit authoritarian violence to limit the terms for politics and economic organization.  In alliance with large landholders, the government favored a capital-intensive agro-industrial model in the countryside that displaced millions of rural inhabitants in favor of export-oriented monocrop production. In Mato Grosso do Sul particularly, the production of cattle, soy, and especially sugarcane for ethanol fuel drove massive urbanization and proletarianization. Today, former peasants and subsequent generations return to rural areas as day laborers, commuting back and forth from city peripheries to work for the agro-industrial firms that now dominate the countryside. My paper focuses on the land reform protest camps of indigenous Gurani people that dot rural roadsides and “occupy” plantations in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. The camps are a political tactic to gain state recognition of indigenous land rights.  Protest camps consist of people that have moved out of (or circulate between) cities, reservations, and rural work sites. Consisting of ramshackle, make-shift dwellings, these camps present another kind of return to the countryside, one in which people seek to reclaim the countryside as a site of political struggle. I argue that, importantly, these camps do not challenge the legitimacy of the state itself. Instead they both appear to breach politics-as-usual and conform with a form of politics in which “insurgency” operates within the frame for mainstream political action.  However, the camps become viewed as an offensive, potentially mortal threat to the political and economic order by undermining the seemingly settled organization of space.

Please join us in welcoming Professor Jens Ludwig (McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law, and Public Policy, University of Chicago).

By , January 5, 2012 7:04 pm

Monday, January, 9 2012
12:00-1:20 in SS 302 *

Neighborhood effects on low-income families:

Long-term results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment

The question of whether, how and why neighborhood environments influence the life chances of individuals and families has been of long-standing interest to social scientists. The main empirical challenge to answering this question arises from the fact that families typically have at least some degree of choice over where they live, which creates difficulties disentangling the effects of neighborhood environments from those of hard-to-measure individual and family level attributes associated with both residential location and other outcomes of interest. This talk will report on the new long-term findings from the HUD Moving to Opportunity (MTO) residential mobility experiment, which starting in 1994 randomly assigned public housing families the chance to use a housing voucher to move to a less distressed neighborhood. Outcomes come from in-person data collection in the domains of physical and mental health, employment, schooling, and delinquency, measured 10-15 years after random assignment.

* Please note earlier time and room change. 

Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Jefferis Terrien in SS 401 from 12:15-1:20 on Monday October 17.

By , October 16, 2011 9:36 pm

Elizabeth Jefferis Terrien is a PhD student in Sociology.

Cultural Conditions of City Park Use

Cultural differences within communities have different policy implications for cities. This comparative case study of two neighborhoods in Los Angeles and two in Chicago, selected on the basis of their observed divergent dog ownership practices, is used to develop a grounded theory about dogs as cultural indicators and urban community identifiers.  Humans have cohabitated with domesticated dogs for millennia yet it is one of the most under-studied relationships in the social sciences.  Original research and analysis of over 100 in-depth interviews, 200 hours of site observation in the community and local parks, photographs, and periodicals theorizes about individual dog-caretaker relationships and situates them within a community of dog caretakers in urban neighborhoods, and then further situates them within the larger municipal authorities of the LA Department of Recreation and Parks, Chicago Park District, LA Animal Services, Chicago Animal Care and Control, political leaders, and police.  Misunderstandings of the relationships between recent Latino immigrants, African Americans, the homeless, and upper middle class owners and their dogs illustrate the impact of beliefs and feelings about dogs on modern urban life.

Please join us in welcoming Amy Khare (10/3/2011) in SS 401 from 12:20-1:20

By , September 30, 2011 12:30 pm

Amy Khare is a PhD student in the School of Social Service Administration.

Participation, deliberation, and decision-making: The dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in mixed-income developments

(Co-authored with Dr. Robert Chaskin and Dr. Mark Joseph)

Abstract: This paper explores the mechanisms, processes, and dynamics of participation and deliberation in three newly created, heterogeneous mixed-income communities being built on the footprint of former public housing developments in Chicago.  Our findings reflect enduring dilemmas about the challenge of democratic participation and representation for low-income citizens in the context of public housing reform efforts. Fundamental tension exists between two orientations to organizing participation, one that privileges “mainstreaming” public housing resident participation into market and civil society, and another that suggests the continuing need for separate mechanisms that maximize public housing resident representation.  In this paper, we frame the theoretical debates over the potential for establishing effective mechanisms to promote deliberative democracy at a neighborhood-level. We then explore how participatory mechanisms are viewed by key stakeholders, provide an overview of the participatory landscape, and examine how the organization of opportunities for deliberation and emerging patterns of participation shape dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in these contexts.  Based on these findings, we suggest implications for policy and governance initiatives aimed at promoting deliberative democracy at a neighborhood-level.



Please join us in welcoming David Thore Gravesen (Wed. 6/1, 3PM-4.15PM, Pick 016)

By , May 29, 2011 9:59 pm

Please Note: This year’s last workshop will be held in PICK 016 instead of the regular Cobb 107!!

David Thore Gravesen is a PhD Student at the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication at the University of Copenhagen.

TITLE: Youth And Social Polarization: An urban sociological study of the life chances of Danish adolescents in 2010


This paper is about a neighborhood study in Denmark – or to be more accurate; a three- neighborhoods study in Denmark. In this research project I look at three different neighborhoods in the city of Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. I use quantitative data1 as objective context variables, but consider my qualitative in-depth lifehistory interviews with 24 respondents from the three neighborhoods (8 respondents from each neighborhood) as my key empirical source. The three neighborhoods differ in key socio-economic characteristics such as income levels, educational levels, housing types and employment rates. One neighborhood is farely rich, one is considered poor and one is somewhere in between with internal variations on the selected variables.

On the basis of an empirically driven analysis, the paper argues, that young people’s educational and employment choices are affected by their experiences in their childhood neighborhoods. The key theoretical tool in this analysis is the concept of the habitus – the notion that new experiences are structured in accordance with past experiences.

I am in the process of writing my PhD-dissertation about neighborhood effects on young peoples educational choices and in this paper I will present some of the preliminary results from my work. To begin with, however, I will present my primary aims in the project, the so-called research questions and let the reader in on matters regarding my research design – that is the methods used in the research process and how those comply with the epistemological basis in the project.

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