Draft Syllabus

Sociology 149/249

Urban Studies 112


"The Urban Underclass"



Winter quarter, 2013

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00A- 11:50A

In Herrin T 175



Plus once a week section, day and time TBA

Section sign-up via Coursework


Michael J. Rosenfeld

Associate Professor

Department of Sociology

McClatchy Hall (Building 120) room 124




Office Hours TBA

Or email questions



Anna Lunn alunn@stanford.edu

Soomin Kim <smkim@stanford.edu>




            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

* 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


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

* Moynihan, Daniel P. 1965. The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. US Dept. of Labor.


Plus two movies whose viewing will be arranged by TAs 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 8

Class orientation


Jan 10

Making the Second Ghetto, Ch 1-3




Week 2

Jan 15

Making the Second Ghetto, Ch 4,5


Jan 17

Making the Second Ghetto, finish the book




Week 3

Jan 22

Wilson: Declining Significance of Race, Introduction, and Ch 1-3


Jan 24

Wilson: Declining Significance of Race, Ch 4-8




Week 4

Jan 29

American Apartheid, preface + Ch 1-2


Jan 31

American Apartheid, Ch 3-5




Week 5

Feb 5

American Apartheid, finish the book


Feb 7

In Class Midterm Exam




Week 6

Feb 12

The Power Broker, Chapters 10-15.


Feb 14

There Are no Children Here, Preface, and Ch. 1-19.




Week 7

Feb 19

There Are no Children Here, Finish the Book


Social Exporer draft papers due; upload to Coursework


Feb 21

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




Week 8

Feb 26

Streetwise, Intro and Ch 1-2


Feb 28

Streetwise, Finish the book








Week 9

Mar 5

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


Plus Cherlin, “The Consequences of Welfare Reform”


Mar 7

Moynihan’s The Negro Family




Friday, March 8, by midnight. Social Explorer final papers due; upload to Coursework

Week 10

Mar 12

Readings on HOPE VI, linked from website


Mar 14

Last Class, Review Session


Final Exam at the regularly scheduled date and time













Additional, Suggested Readings:


            These are readings you may want to consult to supplement your discussion of the required texts.


1) How does the structure of work affect the urban underclass? What barriers do the urban underclass face in finding work or in holding a job? What role does public policy play? How do race, geography, and language effect an individual's ability to get a job?


*Bourgois, Philippe. 1996. In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio Cambridge.

*MacLeod, Jay. 1995. Ain't No Making It. Westview Press

*Kirschenman, Joleen and Kathryn M. Neckerman. 1991. "We'd love to hire them but..." The Meaning of Race for Employers. p. 203-234 in The Urban Underclass, Jencks and Peterson editors.

*Wilson, William Julius. 1996. When Work Disappears. Knopf

*Waldinger, Roger. 1996. Still the promised city? : African-Americans and new immigrants in postindustrial New York. Harvard University Press.


2) Have American Incomes become more unequal? What kinds of public policies are most responsible for rising inequality? If the rich are getting richer, is that necessarily bad for the urban underclass? That is, is inequality necessarily a bad thing?


*Look at the chapters in the edited volumes The Urban Underclass, State of the Union, Confronting Poverty, and Uneven Tides (all cited below)



3) What factors contributed to the Los Angeles riots of 1992, and the Watts riots of 1964? What is the effect of these riots? What do the riots mean and what effects do they have? What role does police violence play?


*Abelmann, Nancy and John Lie. 1995. Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press.

*Button, James W. 1978. Black Violence: Political Impact of the 1960's Riots. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press

*Conot, James. 1967 Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness , Bantam Books.

*Gooding-Williams, Robert, editor. 1993. Reading Rodney King, Reading Urban Uprising Routledge

*Gurr, Ted Robert. 1970. Why Men Rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

*Hobsbawm, Eric. 1963. Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries. New York, NY. Norton

*Jacobs, Ronald N. 2000. Race, media, and the crisis of civil society : from Watts to Rodney King . Cambridge

*Ogletree, Charles J. et al. Beyond the Rodney King story : an investigation of police conduct in minority communities. NAACP.

*Olzak, Susan. 1992. The Dynamics of Ethnic Competition and Conflict. Stanford, CA. Stanford University Press


4) Who are the homeless and what does their presence imply for the rest of us? Is the homeless population really growing, or is it an illusion? What kinds of public policies are responsible for homelessness? What kinds of public policies might alleviate the problem?


*Snow, David A. 1993. Down on their luck : a study of homeless street people . University of California Press.

*Jencks, Christopher. 1994. The homeless. Harvard University Press.



5) The Massey- Wilson debate. What are the causes for black isolation? Is the flight of the black middle class to blame for the isolation of the poor blacks in the ghetto?


*Wilson, William Julius. 1980. The Declining Significance of Race. University of Chicago Press

*Massey, Douglas S. and Nancy Denton. 1993. American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Harvard University Press.

*Wilson, William Julius. 1987. The Truly Disadvantaged. University of Chicago Press.

*Jargowsky, Paul A. 1997. Poverty and place : ghettos, barrios, and the American city. Russell Sage Foundation.


            If you're casting about for other sources, a good place to start are these edited volumes which contain lots of articles about poverty, economic trends, and public policy. Note that these books also have excellent bibliographies.


*Jencks, Christopher and Paul E. Peterson, Editors. 1991. The Urban Underclass. Brookings Institution

*Danziger, Sheldon J., Gary D. Sandefur and Daniel H. Weinberg, Editors. 1994. Confronting Poverty: Prescriptions for Change. Harvard and Russell Sage Foundation

*Danziger, Sheldon and Peter Gottschalk, Editors. 1993. Uneven Tides: Rising Inequality in America. Russell Sage Foundation.

*Farley, Reynolds, Editor. 1995. State of the Union: America in the 1990s. Volume One: Economic Trends. Russell Sage Foundation.

*Waldinger, Roger and Medhi Bozorgmehr, editors. 1996. Ethnic Los Angeles. Russell Sage Foundation.