Questions for Each Reading Assignment

Urban Underclass, Winter 2013

rev 1/2/2013

 

Week 1

Jan 10

Making the Second Ghetto, Ch 1-3

Questions:

* What are the periods of greatest migration of Blacks to the North?

* How can housing be simultaneously abundant in one neighborhood and scarce in another?

* Who benefits from segregation? Who benefits from neighborhood transitions? Who loses?

* What is 'hidden violence', why is it hidden, and who is it hidden from?

* Who were the rioters?

 

 

Week 2

Jan 15

Making the Second Ghetto, Ch 4,5

Questions:

* What is 'Urban Renewal', and who in Chicago was behind it?

* What effect does Urban Renewal have on the supply of housing for blacks?

* Why was Chicago's black congressman, William L. Dawson, unwilling or unable to fight for racial equality?

* What role to black politicians have in maintaining the ghetto?

* How was Hyde Park's response to black immigration different from Englewood's? How was Hyde Park's response similar to the response of other white neighborhoods?

 

 

 

Jan 17

Making the Second Ghetto, finish the book

Questions:

* What happens to St. Clair Drake when he tries to buy a house in Hyde Park?

* What percentage of Blacks owned homes in Chicago in 1939, and how does this compare to other groups? What is significance for individuals and communities of low home ownership and high turnover?

* Why do the White Ethnics of Englewood and Cicero resent the University of Chicago?

* When Chicago finally does build large housing projects (Stateway Gardens, Robert Taylor Homes) to house blacks, what are the political terms and effects of their construction?

* What was Chicago's response to court- ordered desegregation?

 

 

Week 3

Jan 22

Declining Significance of Race, Intro and Ch 1-3

Questions:

* What is Marxist economic theory and how does Wilson use it to explain black-white relations?

* What is the Split Labor Market theory, how does it differ from what Wilson describes as classical Marxism, and how does Wilson use the Split Labor Market to explain black-white relations?

* What types of labor and economic systems increase conflict between racial groups?

* What is the significance of class stratification within black society?

* How did the end of slavery and the rise of industrialization change life for black Americans?

 

 

 

Jan 24

Declining Significance of Race, Ch 4-8

Questions:

* Why did black workers end up as strike breakers in the mid 20th century?

* What are the “buffer institutions” described by Wilson and by Katznelson?

* What are the trends in black and white unemployment?

* How does Wilson characterize the Civil Rights movement?

* How does Wilson respond to his critics?

 

 

Week 4

 

 

 

Jan 29

American Apartheid, preface + Ch 1-2

Questions:

* What are the key elements of segregation and what are its effects? How does a disadvantaged neighborhood magnify the effects of individual poverty?

* How was the Black ghetto in the early 20th Century different from the Italian and Polish ghettos? What accounts for the difference?

* What is the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, how did HOLC evaluate credit worthiness, and what effect did this evaluation system have? What role did U.S. Government agencies play in establishing the practice of 'redlining'?

* Who benefits from federally guaranteed private mortgage loans? Who loses?

* What were the objective criteria that the FHA used in its loan criteria? Did the criteria favor new construction or renovation of existing structures?

 

Jan 31

American Apartheid, Ch 3-5

Questions:

* Think about the measures of segregation, especially the most commonly used one, the Index of Dissimilarity (which Massey and Denton refer to on the tables as simply 'segregation'). What is the definition (in words, not formula) of this index? How do Massey and Denton define high segregation vs. moderate segregation? Are the distinctions arbitrary? Note that the Index of Dissimilarity compares only two groups at a time, and comment on the suitability of this in an increasingly multicultural urban US.

* Tables 3.3 and 3.1 both show trends decreasing segregation between Blacks and Whites. How do Massey and Denton interpret these tables?

* How do Massey and Denton address the question of race versus class as a source for segregation? How are Massey and Denton critical of Wilson?

* How do Massey and Denton evaluate the importance of self-segregation, that is how much do Blacks prefer to live in an all-Black neighborhood?

* What do housing audit studies show?

* Why does housing segregation worsen and concentrate poverty?

* Why are neighborhood effects important?

 

Week 5

 

 

 

Feb 5

American Apartheid, finish the book

Questions:

* How does residential segregation lead to Black political isolation?

* How does residential segregation lead to linguistic bifurcation (e.g. Ebonics vs. Standard English), and how does ghetto isolation lead to an oppositional counter culture? In what sense are Massey and Denton relying on a 'culture of poverty' argument?

* What is the story of how the Fair Housing Act came to be passed in 1968, and how did the enforcement provisions get taken out? What is the social significance of the lack of enforcement of the FHA?

* How far does the US department of Housing and Urban Development go to desegregate housing under their direct control (public housing projects)? What does the final judgment in the Gautreaux case say about HUD?

* Describe the intent and significance of the following: The Fair Housing Act (1968) the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (1975) the Community Reinvestment Act (1977), Amendments to the Fair Housing Act (1988)

* What is 'integration maintenance'?

* In the final analysis: What public policies created the ghetto, and what public policies have reinforced the ghetto? How can the ghetto be dismantled?

 

Feb 7

In Class Midterm Exam

 

Week 6

Feb 12

The Power Broker, Ch 10-15

 

 

Questions:

* How, according to Caro, did Robert Moses craft the Long Island Parks Commision Act of 1924, and what does this tell us about legislative democracy?

* What kinds powers were hidden in the 1924 parks act, and how did Robert Moses use these powers?

* What did Moses accomplish on Long Island in the 1920s, and how were these accomplishments perceived at the time?

* How does the building of large public infrastructure projects grease the wheels of electoral politics?

 

 

Feb 14

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

Questions:

* Think about Kotlowitz' ethnographic study in terms of what evidence it provides for the various theories and historical narratives we have read about and discussed, including:

* What does Kotlowitz write about how the Horner project was built, and how it was maintained over the years? How does this analysis square with Hirsch's description of the making of the second ghetto in Chicago?

* What sense of physical, psychological and political isolation do the residents of the Horner homes experience? How, in other words, has their experience of segregation shaped and affected them?

* How has living in the Horner homes limited Pharoah's and Lafayette's chances for upward socioeconomic mobility?

* What kinds of geographic and physical boundaries define Pharoah's and Lafayette's worlds?

* Is there evidence for a 'Culture of Poverty'? What would a conservative critic say about the choices the Rivers family has made?

* Is there evidence in Kotlowitz's book for Wilson's theories about how the decline of heavy industry and the upward mobility of the Black middle class isolated the ghetto?

 

 

Week 7

Feb 19

There Are no Children Here, Finish the book.

Questions:

* Explain the story of Craig Davis' death, and interpret it. What are the risks involved with growing up in Chicago's housing projects? How was the death treated in the press? What was the police's evidence that Craig was in fact a gang member? How did the ATF treat Craig Davis' mother?

* How does the high mortality rate, even of young innocent people in the ghetto, affect individuals' abilities to plan for the long term? How does the loss of leaders and friends affect the psyches of ghetto residents? How does it affect Lafayette and Pharoah?

* How do the Rivers family understand and experience Terrence's plea bargain and sentencing?

* What does Gwen Anderson find in the basement of LaJoe's building? Why are there perfectly good appliances rusting and rotting there? How does the new CHA chairman, Vincent Lane, attempt to deal with the problems at Horner?

* How does Lafayette get into trouble, and what is his experience of the juvenile court system like?

 

 

Feb 21

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

Questions:

* How do wealth inequalities represent a 'sedimentation' of historical inequalities? Why do Oliver and Shapiro argue that Wealth is a better indicator of life chances than income?

* How does the focus on wealth constitute an answer to William Julius Wilson's argument about the declining significance of race?

* What historical processes have limited Blacks' access to wealth? What do other authors we have read have to say about this? See specifically the Homestead Acts, suburbanization, redlining, social security (and other New Deal programs such as Welfare), and discrimination in mortgage lending.

* In what sense does the income tax protect wealth? Why is the social security tax a regressive tax?

* Examine Tables 4.4, 4.5, and all the tables and figures in Chapter 5. What story do they tell about the wealth gap between Whites and Blacks in the US?

* How does limited resources constrain and narrow the choices the Rivers family makes in There Are No Children?

 

 

Week 8

Feb 26

Streetwise, Intro and Ch 1-2

Questions:

* Who are the Old Heads, and why have they lost their influence in the inner city?

* What is the role of the following factors in shaping neighborhoods: real estate speculation, crime, and safety.

 

 

 

Feb 28

Streetwise, Finish the book

Questions:

* How do the residents of 'The Village' deal with the residents of 'Northton', and vice-versa? What are the special issues that Blacks in the Village face?

* What are the effects of drugs on Northton, and what is the effect on the Village?

* What are the special rules for and about Black men in public places in the city?

 

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”

Questions:

* Why in Murray's view do welfare programs make people poor?

* How does Murray view the structural causes of poverty?

* What does Murray think of the personal and motivational causes of poverty?

* How good an analogy is Murray’s antismoking example for antipoverty and welfare policies?

* What are Murray’s three laws of social programs, and how well do they fit what we have learned about social programs in this class?

 

* Why, according to Cherlin, are the results of welfare reform different from what academics expected?

 

Mar 7

Moynihan’s The Negro Family

Questions on Moynihan:

* What does Moynihan see as the main differences between black and white family structure?

* What is the effect of matrifocal family structure on black society?

* Where does Moynihan think the black matrifocal family comes from?

* What do Losing Ground and American Apartheid have to say about The Negro Family?

* What kinds of public policy priorities does Moynihan advocate?

 

 

Week 10

Mar 12

Readings on HOPE VI, linked from website

 

Questions on HOPE VI readings:

* What is the New Urbanism? (briefly described in Popkin et al)

* How do HOPE VI developments differ from the public housing they replaced? What do the before and after photographs reveal, and what don’t the photos reveal (see Turbov and Piper p. 20-21)?

* What, according to Popkin et al is percentage of residents of the demolished housing projects who find housing in the new HOPE VI units?

* In what sense are the new developments more ‘mixed’ than the older developments?

* What has been the effect of HOPE VI on racial segregation?

* What is Venkatesh’s critique of HOPE VI, and how does this critique relate to Hirsch’s critique of the urban renewal of an earlier generation?

 

Mar 14

Review session