Draft Syllabus                                                                                               draft date 10/31/2019

Sociology 149/249

Urban Studies 112


"The Urban Underclass"



Winter Quarter, 2020

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4:20P

Room: Ed 128


Plus once a week section, day and time TBA



Michael J. Rosenfeld


Department of Sociology

McClatchy Hall (Building 120) room 124




Office Hours By appointment






            In this class we will read and discuss some of the classic work of urban sociology, and ask a series of questions about segregation, opportunity, race, class, and public policy.


Required Readings (Available at Stanford Bookstore and on reserve at Green)

* Hirsch, Arnold. 1983. Making the Second Ghetto. Cambridge University Press. $21, ISBN: 0226342441

* William Julius Wilson. 1979. The Declining Significance of Race. University of Chicago Press. $18, ISBN-10: 0226901297

* Massey, Douglas S. and Nancy Denton. 1993. American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Harvard University Press. $21, ISBN-10: 0674018214

* Robert Caro. 1974. The Power Broker. Vintage. $17, ISBN-10: 0394720245

* Kotlowitz, Alex. 1991. There Are No Children Here. Doubleday. $11, ISBN-10: 0385265565

* Murray, Charles. 1995. Losing Ground. Basic Books. $21, ISBN-10: 0465042333

* Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer. 2016. Two Dollars A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. $12. ISBN-10: 054481195X

* Anderson, Elijah. 1990. Streetwise: Race, Class and Change in an Urban Community. University of Chicago Press. $16, ISBN-10: 0226018164

* Oliver, Melvin and Thomas Shapiro. 1995. Black Wealth, White Wealth. Routledge. $29, ISBN-10: 0415951674

* Coates, Ta-Nehisi. 2015. Between the World and Me. Spiegel and Grau. $15, ISBN-10: 0812993543

* Alexander, Michelle. 2012. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. ISBN-13: 978-1595586438. $12.80.


Plus several additional readings posted or linked on the class website, including:

* US Dept of Justice “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department”, 2015


Plus two movies to see in the second half of the quarter:

Hoop Dreams(Director Steve James, 1994) And Do the Right Thing (Director  Spike Lee 1989)



For Undergraduates (soc 149):

* Midterm Exam


* Make one 15 minute presentation to discussion section, and lead (along with the TA) the section discussion for that week.


* Regular section participation


* Short paper using Social Explorer maps


* Final Exam



For Graduate Students (soc 249):

* Midterm Exam


* Make one 15 minute presentation to discussion section, and lead (along with the TA) the section discussion for that week.


* Regular section participation


* One 10 minute presentation to class, presenting a different book from the one you presented to section


* Short paper using Social Explorer maps


* Final Exam



Class Size:

In case of class size limitations, sign-up will require consent of the professor.


Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities that may necessitate an academic accommodation must initiate a request with the Disability Resource Center (DRC).  See the website http://www.stanford.edu/group/DRC/, or call (650) 723-1066 voice (650) 723-1067 TTY.




Computer use in class: In order to limit distractions in class, there is no computer use in class, except by special permission from Professor Rosenfeld.


Reading Assignments:


NOTE: Questions are posted on my website for each reading. See www.stanford.edu/~mrosenfe/urb_reading_questions.htm




Reading Assignments Due




Week 1

Jan 7

Class orientation


Jan 9

Making the Second Ghetto, Ch 1-3




Week 2

Jan 14

Making the Second Ghetto, finish the book


Jan 16

Wilson: Declining Significance of Race, Ch 1-3




Week 3

Jan 21

Wilson: Declining Significance of Race, Ch 4-8


Jan 23

American Apartheid, preface + Ch 1-2




Week 4

Jan 28

American Apartheid, Ch 3-5


Jan 30

American Apartheid, finish the book




Week 5

Feb 4

In Class Midterm Exam


Feb 6

The Power Broker, Chapters 10-15.




Week 6

Feb 11

There Are no Children Here, read the whole book


Feb 13

Black Wealth/ White Wealth, Intro, Ch 1-5




Week 7

Feb 18

Streetwise, Chapters 1-2


Feb 20

Streetwise, finish the book

Also: Social Explorer draft papers due; upload to Canvas




Week 8

Feb 25

Losing Ground, Prologue, Chapter 1-4, Ch 16, Ch 17, especially p. 227-236


Plus $2 A day, sections TBA


Feb 27

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me, read the whole book







Week 9

March 3

Michelle Alexander The New Jim Crow read the whole book


March 5

US DOJ “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department”;







Week 10

March 10

Terry v. Ohio US Supreme Court 1968; Floyd v. New York 2013 (all linked from my website)


March 12

Last Class, Review Session


Wednesday, March 14 by midnight. Social Explorer final papers due; upload to Canvas


Final Exam

in-class Final Exam (as scheduled by the Registrar)