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The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life
     

The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life

by Elijah Anderson
 

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Following his award-winning work on inner-city violence, Code of the Street, Elijah Anderson takes us back to Philadelphia, exploring urban islands of civility he calls "cosmopolitan canopies." With compelling, meticulous descriptions of public spaces such as 30th Street Station, Reading Terminal Market, and Rittenhouse Square, and quasi-public places like

Overview

Following his award-winning work on inner-city violence, Code of the Street, Elijah Anderson takes us back to Philadelphia, exploring urban islands of civility he calls "cosmopolitan canopies." With compelling, meticulous descriptions of public spaces such as 30th Street Station, Reading Terminal Market, and Rittenhouse Square, and quasi-public places like the modern-day workplace, Anderson provides a rich narrative account of how all kinds of people—from gentrifiers to the homeless, cabdrivers to doormen—go about meeting the demands of everyday urban existence. Anderson reveals how eating, shopping, and people-watching under the canopy can ease racial tensions, but also how the spaces between canopies can reinforce boundaries. In Anderson's vibrant atmospheres, we practice what he calls "folk ethnography," learning how "good behavior" can mend "tears" in the canopy. Weaving lively, colorful observations with keen social insight, Anderson shows how the canopy may well be the salvation for our increasingly diverse cities.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Yale sociology professor Anderson (Code of the Street) takes the reader on an ethnographic walking tour of Philadelphia to observe how city dwellers interact across racial lines. He attends particularly to the "cosmopolitan canopy"—public settings like parks, malls, town squares that maintain civil and comfortable interactions between diverse populations. Anderson moves then to those areas where the canopy breaks down (the workplace, public transportation). Anderson's nuanced treatment of "the social dynamics of racial inequality" and his precise observations (the politics of eye contact, for example), while rooted in scholarship, are uncommonly readable: snippets from his journals and sketches of neighborhood habitués offer immediate pleasure, and the book is a people watcher's delight. And while Anderson doesn't gloss over how prevalent and pernicious racism remains in America—"There comes a time in the life of every African American, regardless of how high he or she has risen in society, when he or she is reminded of his or her place as a black man or woman"—his study allows a cautious optimism that "the canopy offers a taste of how inclusive and civil social relationships could become." (Mar.)
Marian Wright Edelman
“The Cosmopolitan Canopy is a richly detailed account of how the public spaces we all share can either separate or help bring us together. I strongly recommend it.”
Renee C. Fox
“Elijah Anderson is a master ethnographer. Field research is a way of life for him, a medium through which unceasingly, over the course of many years, he has courageously explored the innermost recesses of life in an American city, especially the social worlds and the experiences of Black Americans. Once again, in The Cosmopolitan Canopy, he moves from one area of Philadelphia to another, exploring the patterns of social interaction and behavior in various public places. Anderson calls these urban spaces ‘cosmopolitan canopies’ – a concept likely to evoke lively, illuminating discussion.”
Booklist
“Fascinating sociology and people-watching at its profound best.”
William Julius Wilson
“Vintage Elijah Anderson—original, creative, engaging, and thought-provoking . . . . This book is a must-read.”
Randall Collins
“The most important book on race relations in many years.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393071634
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
03/28/2011
Pages:
318
Sales rank:
1,125,776
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Elijah Anderson is the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale University.

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