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.

Please join us in welcoming Naomi Bartz (Wed. 5/18, 3PM-4.15PM, Cobb 107)

By , May 11, 2011 12:02 pm

Naomi Bartz is a PhD Candidate in Human Development at the University of Chicago.

TITLE: “We Don’t Want No Crumbs:” Local Political Responses to Mixed-Income Strategies of Neighborhood Revitalization.


The construction of mixed-income developments has taken hold across the United States, Canada, and other post-industrialized nations as an urban revitalization approach and as a strategy for improving the quality of lives of low-income residents as well as the larger neighborhood. These developments are expected to alleviate the concentration of poverty through the creation of opportunities for market-rate investment, concomitant with mandates for specific income mixes. In this talk I will investigate how local political factions respond to and mediate the policy goals associated with the construction of MIDs and the actual outcomes of these major revitalization projects. While mixed-income developments have generally been researched in isolate, I will argue that when assessed in light of existing local political structures, they may in fact present unanticipated neighborhood-wide change. My proposition, based on nine months of research in a low-income neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, is that this popular new approach to urban economic development is mobilizing actors to enter and/or solidify their place in the political arena and ‘fight’ for legitimization and instantiation of their own vision of the community area in an attempt to ‘win’ over competing visions. Thus, rather than eradicating existing political structures or being the catalyst for the creation of structures where once there was none, the construction of these mega-projects may not be as deterministic of neighborhood-level outcomes as might be expected. Instead, local area politics may mediate the relationship between MIDs and the resultant demographic and institutional characteristics of the neighborhood.

Please join us in welcoming Rick Moore (Wed. 5/4, 3PM-4.15PM, Cobb 107)

By , April 26, 2011 5:23 pm

Rick Moore is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Chicago.

TITLE: “Formal Cooperation Among Urban Congregations: The Council of Hyde Park Churches 1911-1933″


The existence of religious coalitions calls into question some of the assumptions underlying how we study congregations, especially the common analytical focus on single independent congregations as the appropriate unit of analysis.  Religious coalitions, i.e. formal organizations comprised of religious organizations from diverse religious traditions, have been a feature of the American religious landscape throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries yet remain virtually ignored by sociologists.  A case study of a Protestant religious coalition in Chicago from 1911-1933 illustrates the impact of coalitions and their behavior.  This coalition worked to coordinate congregations’ activities on both a practical and symbolic level, served as an information clearing house and undertook multiple projects aimed at improving the group’s urban environment.  The effect of the coalition on members’ activities complicates sociology’s existing models of urban religious organization and suggests that researchers should be more attuned to the coordinated behavior of diverse religious groups.

Distinguished Guest Speaker: Professor Erik Swyngedouw (April 20, 3PM-4.15PM, Cobb 107)

By , April 14, 2011 4:53 pm

Please join us in welcoming our distinguished guest speaker Erik Swyngedouw on on Wednesday April 20th, 3PM-4.15PM in Cobb 107.

Professor Erik Swyngedouw is Professor in Geography at the University of Manchester. Over the past two decades, he has published several books and over a hundred research papers in leading journals in the broader fields of political economy, political ecology, and urban theory and culture. His aim is to bring politically explicit yet theoretically and empirically grounded research that contributes to the practice of constructing a more genuinely humanising geography.

Major publications include Social Power and the Urbanisation of Water: Flows of Power. (2004) and Swyngedouw E, P Cooke, F Moulaert, O Weinstein, P Wells. Towards Global Localization. London: University College Press (1992). Edited books include Swyngedouw, E., F. Moulaert and A. Rodriguez. The Globalized City. Oxford: Oxford University Press, (2003), Swyngedouw, E., N. Heynen, M. Kaika. In the Nature of Cities. Routledge, (2006) and Swyngedouw, E, F Moulaert, F Martinelli and S Gonzalez. Can Neighbourhoods Save the City?. London: Routledge (2010).

At the City, Society and Space workshop, Professor Swyngedouw will present on:

“CITY or POLIS? Antinomies of the Post-Political and Post-Democratic City”

The extended abstract can be found here: Swyngedouw_Extended Abstract

Distinguished Guest Speaker: Professor Harvey Molotch (April 6, 12PM-1.15PM, Stuart 101)

By , March 28, 2011 5:11 pm

Please join us in welcoming our distinguished guest speaker Harvey Molotch on Wednesday April 6th, 12PM-1.15PM in Stuart 101.

Harvey Molotch is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and Sociology at New York University. His areas of interest include urban development and political economy; the sociology of architecture, design, and consumption; environmental degradation; mechanisms of interactional inequalities. Major publications include Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (1987) and Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are (2003).

At the City, Society and Space workshop, Professor Molotch will present on:

“Default to Decency: Subways, Airports, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger”


Paying close attention to both physical artifact and states of anxiety, Harvey Molotch examines how citizens and workers, in accomplishing their routine activities, help secure urban environments. He recommends, in light of contrasting efforts by authorities, specific (and material) policies that would provide more benign outcomes.

SPRING Schedule

By , March 28, 2011 4:46 pm

Below you can find the City, Society and Space Workshop schedule for the Spring 2011 Quarter:

April 6th (12PM-1.15PM, Stuart 101)

Harvey Molotch, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis/Sociology, New York University

“Default to Decency: Subways, Airports, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger”

April 20th (3PM-4.15PM, Cobb 107)

Erik Swyngedouw, Professor of Geography, University of Manchester

“CITY or POLIS? Antinomies of the Post-Political and Post-Democratic City”

May 4th (3PM-4.15PM, Cobb 107)

Rick Moore, PhD student, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

“Urban Religious Coalitions Re-examined: The Council of Hyde Park Churches 1911-1930″

May 18th (3PM-4.15PM, Cobb 107)

Naomi Bartz, PhD Candidate, Department of Human Development, University of Chicago

“The New Stigma of Public Housing Residents: Responding to Challenges to Social Image in Mixed Income Developments.”

June 1st (3PM-4.15PM, Cobb 107)

David Gravesen, PhD Student, PhD student, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

“Youth and social polarization: An urban sociological study of the life chances of Danish adolescents in 2010”


Please note that the regular meeting time this quarter will be from 3PM till 4.15PM (Cobb 107).

If you have any additional questions, please contact the student coordinator, Thomas Swerts (

Please join us in welcoming Eleonora Elguezabal (Wed. 3/9, 12PM-1.15PM, Cobb 102)

By , March 1, 2011 3:53 pm

Eleonora Elguezabal is a PhD candidate in sociology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales / Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris.

TITLE: “The Production of Urban Boundaries: Naming Conflicts, Property Management and the Division of Labor in the New Luxury and Secured Buildings in Buenos Aires”

ABSTRACT: This presentation is based on my research for my PhD dissertation at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, France. My PhD dissertation explores the construction of urban boundaries at the crossroad of different social worlds. It discusses the dual-city theories by a double strategy: 1/Doing fieldwork in some places that symbolize the socially homogeneous upper-class constructed communities of equals, chiefly in fortified buildings in Buenos Aires (close to the American gated communities); 2/Approaching these places by focusing the fieldwork on their employees and their work -in order to study their relation to the urban and social space and to their employers, and also the way these buildings run. The aim of my research is to analyze the construction of urban boundaries and to reintroduce an approach in terms of domination in the study of an object that is most usually seen in terms of exclusion. My methodology is mainly ethnographical, completed by statistics and library methods. I will focus my presentation on the first part of my dissertation, which deals with the social construction of these fortified buildings in Buenos Aires as particular and distinctive objects or institutions. This construction of difference is a subject of dispute at the crossroad of different social worlds: architecture and urban politics, the hierarchy of residential models in the residential space, building management and unions. The aim of this first part is to draw up a symbolic plan of the city using these categorization conflicts as a source. By doing this, I show how the critical positions (especially the dominant scholarly approach) as well as the legitimizing positions towards these buildings tend to identify spatial with social boundaries, but the limits of the category distinguishing these buildings (called “torres” or “complejos”) are flexible according to the position of different actors and the result of the conflicts about them.

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