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Woven throughout with rich details of everyday life, this original, on-the-ground study of poor neighborhoods challenges much prevailing wisdom about urban poverty, shedding new light on the people, institutions, and culture in these communities. Over the course of nearly a decade, Martín Sánchez-Jankowski immersed himself in life in neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles to investigate how social change and social preservation transpire among the urban poor. Looking at five community mainstays—the housing project, the small grocery store, the barbershop and the beauty salon, the gang, and the local high school—he discovered how these institutions provide a sense of order, continuity, and stability in places often thought to be chaotic, disorganized, and disheartened. His provocative and ground-breaking study provides new data on urban poverty and also advances a new theory of how poor neighborhoods function, illuminating the creativity and resilience that characterize the lives of those who experience the hardships associated with economic deprivation.
List of Tables and Figures
1. A Theory of Life, Social Change, and Preservation in Poor Neighborhoods
2. Hosting a Home: Competing Agendas for Life in Public Housing
3. Living Refuge: Social Change and Preservation in the Housing Project
4. Provisions for Life: Making the Mom-and-Pop Store a Neighborhood Institution
5. Taking Care of Business: Social Change and Preservation in the Mom-and-Pop Store
6. Not Just a Clip Joint: Hair Shops and the Institution of Grooming
7. Life on the Edge: Social Change and Preservation in the Hair Shop
8. The Gang's All Here: Fathering a Bastard Institution
9. All in the Family: Mothering the Gang as a Bastard Institution
10. Whither the Neighborhood High School? Contending Roles and Functions
11. School Works: The Dynamics of Two Production Lines
Martín Sánchez-Jankowski is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Urban Ethnography at the University of California, Berkeley. He is author of Islands in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society (UC Press), among other books.
There is much to be learned from this perceptive and thoughtful book. . . . [An] intellectually courageous book that deserves broad attention.”—Beyondchron
“A well-written sociological study . . . completely free of academic jargon. Would appeal to the general reader as well as to an academic audience.“—Multicultural Review
"Neighborhoods have been central to American sociology since its inception, yet we have understood little about how the institutions in urban communities evolve, disappear, or persist over time. Instead, as of late, many scholars have treated neighborhoods as collections of individuals and families, ignoring the institutional ecology. Understanding the dynamic role of local institutions is critical not only to sociological scholarship but also to important public policy debates about urban poverty. Martín Sánchez-Jankowski offers the reader an important, comprehensive look at how local institutions ranging from barbershops to street gangs to public housing both reflect and shape the culture and daily rhythms of the residents who live with them. His ecological perspective offers an important missing link in debates about 'neighborhood effects' and should be read by anyone interested in understanding urban poverty."—Dalton Conley, author of Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America
"In his famous and moving preface to Les Miserables
, Victor Hugo warns us that as long as there is poverty, such tales will be told. But stories are not often told about the resurgence of poor communities—their struggles to mobilize and change their condition. But this book does just that—filling in the rest of the picture; and not of individual Horatio Algers, but with textured and critical analysis of the barriers these communities face and the pathways they take to achieve social change."—Troy Duster, New York University
C. Wright Mills Award, Society for the Study of Social Problems