Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

Robert J. Sampson. Univ. of Chicago, $27.50 (512p) ISBN 978-0-226-73456-9
Anchored by his work with the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), Harvard sociologist Sampson (Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life) reviews, reassesses, and revises “the old Chicago School of urban sociology,” discarding what has proved to be wrong while preserving key insights and incorporating more current theoretical and methodological approaches. Both countering and absorbing contemporary globalization concepts, which suggest that place is irrelevant, he demonstrates, in persuasive detail, that “differentiation by neighborhood is not only everywhere to be seen, but that it has durable properties.” After reviewing the historical development of neighborhood-effects research, Sampson provides a thorough account of the history of the PHDCN, its methodology, and its multifaceted, long-range studies of Chicago neighborhoods. Replete with lucidly explicated charts and diagrams, Sampson analyzes a multitude of neighborhood aspects from patterns of movement to patterns of altruism, from the role of nonprofits to the distribution of churches. Though academically rigorous and dense, his “relentless analytic march across the social landscape of Chicago” remains accessible. While Sampson’s magnum opus will find most of its readers within the social science community and will likely become required reading for budding and practicing scholars, the trickle-down impact of his analysis is likely to be significant. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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