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From one of America’s most admired sociologists and urban policy advisers, There Goes the Neighborhood is a long-awaited look at how race, class, and ethnicity influence one of Americans’ most personal choices—where we choose to live. The result of a three-year study of four working- and lower-middle class neighborhoods in Chicago, these riveting first-person narratives and the meticulous research which accompanies them reveal honest yet disturbing realities—ones that remind us why the elusive American dream of integrated neighborhoods remains a priority of race relations in our time.
How has that been going, anyway? I've spent most of what spare time I have these days watching fantasy offerings such as NBC's "Heroes," a story about regular people who gain superhuman powers and attempt to save the world. Truth be told, it's probably reading books such as William Julius Wilson and Richard P. Taub's profoundly sobering There Goes the Neighborhood that drives me to such otherworldly fare. Their careful and convincing summary of research carried out in Chicago during the mid-1990s paints a picture of social intolerance and bad faith that makes wasting away on a desert island sound like a pretty reasonable alternative to scraping out a living in today's contentious American cities and suburbs.
—The Washington Post
Working under the guidance of two eminent sociology professors, a team of nine graduate students went into four working and lower-middle class Chicago neighborhoods to study the ethnic, racial and class dynamics of those areas. The four areas were quite different. “Beltway” was predominantly white, but was experiencing a growing Latino population. “Dover” had become predominantly Latino over the past 20 years. “Archer Park” had been almost totally Mexican for 20 years, and “Groveland” was a fairly stable African American community. The researchers were sent in to examine how well Hirschmans’ theory of “exit, voice, and loyalty” can apply to neighborhoods experiencing racial change. Exit can be the first reaction of residents in a changing community. They perceive their neighborhood as changing in a way they do not accept, and they move out. If they speak up (Voice), organize, and take measures to preserve the benefits of living in that neighborhood, they may see that there are ways to preserve the values they see in their neighborhood and their “Loyalty” reinforces the stability of the area. The work studies in detail the racial and class tensions in these urban areas as they change, and speculates on their future. The text reads easily and is accompanied by graphs, appendices and copious notes. The only drawback to the study is that the population figures date from the early 90s. Reviewer: Patricia Moore
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)
Excerpted from There Goes the Neighborhood by Richard P. Taub Copyright © 2006 by Richard P. Taub. Excerpted by permission.
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