Cities and Urbanization

Lecture, Open—Spring

What is the object of study for urban sociologists? The very concept of “urban” is a geographical, political, and cultural constellation, but what constitutes the limits of the city? This lecture examines the historical constitution of urban sociology and surveys the development of cities as sites for the study of social affairs, institutions, and innovations. We will explore core approaches to the study of the city—the ecological approach, subcultural approach, political economy approach, and postmodern identity-based approaches—and seek to understand their relation to one another, as well as how they address such urban issues as suburbia, consumption, ghettoes, globalization, immigration, race, crime, and gentrification. The group conference portion of the course reviews select methods of qualitative social research in pursuit of a greater understanding of how one conducts research in/of the city. We will emphasize study design and fieldwork while exploring technicalities of the case study, ethnography, interviews, discourse analysis, and action research.