Sociology 206: Urban Sociology

Fall 2001. MWF 10:00-10:50AM

9 Newcomb Hall

Instructor: Kevin F. Gotham, Ph.D.                                      Teaching Assistant: Farrah Gafford
Office: 220 Newcomb Hall                                                  Room: 442 Newcomb
Office Hours: 2:30-3:30, MWF                                           Office Hours: 1:00 - 3:00, Tuesday

Course Description
Sociology 206 is designed as an introductory course to the central problems, perspectives, and concepts in urban sociology. We will examine how cities develop, how they are organized, how they change, how they affect people, and what they might look like in the future. In general, our focus is on American cities and metropolitan areas and how they have changed in the last century as a result of industrialization, suburbanization, immigration, racial population migration, globalization, federal programs and revitalization drives, and a host of other large-scale factors. While this course is about "urban" sociology it is not about the central city alone. We take a comparative and global perspective to understand the entire metropolitan region, considering both city and suburban life. Through assigned readings and discussions, we will critically examine traditional and contemporary ways of sociological thinking about cities and urban change.

The first third of the course introduces a number of traditional and contemporary perspectives in urban sociology. We will discuss the pioneering work of Europeans such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Max Weber, and Georg Simmel. We will also focus on the classic contributions of American urbanists such as Robert Park, Ernest Burgess, Louis Wirth, and others who founded the Chicago School of Sociology, the center of urban sociology in the United States through the 1930s. The work of these and other urban scholars provide the basis for our study of the rise of the industrial city in the late nineteenth century and the beginnings of suburbanization in the first few decades of the twentieth century. Next, we will consider metropolitan changes in the second half of the twentieth century focusing on the powerful forces of deindustrialization and globalization, push and pull factors in suburbanization, and the shift of people and industry to the Sunbelt.

In the second part of the course we will explore the various theories of urban life, the drama of local and metropolitan politics, and metropolitan inequalities and problems such as poverty, crime, racism, and urban deterioration and obsolescence. We will examine the impact of immigration on U.S. cities, the problems of racial residential segregation and school segregation, and fiscal austerity. Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities provides a close-up and intimate view of inner city life that illustrates the extremes of wealth and poverty in U.S. school systems and their damaging effect on poor children, especially those in central cities. Here we will explore the interlocking dimensions of race and class and the role these "savage inequalities" play in shaping differential access to quality education for city and suburban school children, reinforcing fiscal disparities between cities and suburbs, and exacerbating urban disinvestment.

In the third part of the course we examine how urban revitalization initiatives, changing modes of transportation, and urban planning efforts have both helped and hurt U.S. cities and metropolitan areas over the last hundred years or so. In the last weeks of the course we turn our attention to metropolitan planning and consider alternative forms of urban design and policy in an effort to understand why urban programs fail, what ideologies govern metropolitan growth and uneven development, and how we can improve metropolitan life.

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course you should be able to:

Required Readings:


Gottdiener, Mark and Ray Hutchison. 2000. The New Urban Sociology. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

LeGates, Richard T., and Frederic Stout (Editors). The City Reader. Second Edition. Routledge.

Jonathan Kozol. 1991. Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools. Crown Publishers.


Gotham, Kevin Fox. 2000. "Urban Space, Restrictive Covenants, and the Origin of Racial Residential Segregation in a U.S. City, 1900-1950." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 24(3): 616-33. September 2000.

Course Requirements: Your grade for this course will be determined by your performance on three examinations, a final research paper consisting of either an urban research project or a service learning requirement, and your participation in a series of group discussions held during the last two weeks of class.

Examinations (60 percent of final grade). Each of the three examinations will be worth 50 points and include a combination of fill-in-blank, short-answer questions, multiple choice type questions, and essay questions. A third examination will be held on December 15 (Saturday) at 1:00. Each of these three examinations is worth 20 percent, or together, 60 percent of your final grade.

Urban Research Project and Paper (30 percent of final grade). (1) Urban Case Study, or (2) Service Learning. 30 percent of your final grade will be based on a 10 page research paper. There are two options to complete this project and paper -- you must decide which to pursue.

Option #1: Urban Case Study (30 percent of final grade). For those of you that choose this first urban research project topic, you will research a particular city and write a final paper on its history and current status. You may choose any city in the world provided that it has a population of at least 250,000. Your final paper should be organized in the following manner and deal with the issues and questions under each general heading listed below. You should deliberately apply the sociological concepts and theories learned in the class to your urban research. Data collection for the paper should be based on assigned course readings and the following library and documentary resources: scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, congressional testimony, archival material, planning department documents, government reports and analyses, census bureau data, books, and other written documents. I encourage you to include a map of the city and any other figures and tables if necessary. When writing your paper, assume that the audience is composed of people who know nothing of the material you read, the concepts you use, and data you have collected. That is, pretend you are preparing a tour guide and it is your job to inform strangers about the city.

When was the city established/incorporated? Who was responsible for its settlement and why was the city formed? What are the major historical landmarks or tourist attractions in the city? Tell us about any interesting or peculiar circumstances surrounding the origin and development of the city.

Demographics and Population Characteristics.
What is the current population of the city? Has the population increased or decreased any over the last fifty years or so? If so, why? What is the racial and ethnic composition of the city population? Has this increased or decreased much and why? Tell us about the income and age distribution of the current population.

Economic Base and Land-Use.
Is the urban economy dominated by one or two major industries or is it a diversified economy? Has the economic base changed much in the last fifty years? What is the rate of unemployment? Is the housing availability and cost considered high or low? Are there any major land-uses that dominate the city? Tell us about the land use distribution (e.g., residential, commercial, and industrial land-uses).

Infrastructure and Government.
Tell us about the transportation and communication systems, the quality of education and health care for city residents, and the form of city government.

Social Problems.
What are the major social problems the city faces? What is the crime rate? What is the percentage of the population living below the federal poverty line?

Prospects for the Future.
What are the projections for future economic growth? Are there currently any major economic revitalization projects being planned or implemented at the moment? What barriers does the city face in promoting growth? What problems does the city face that may impede future growth and development?

References and Methodological Appendix.
You must include a References section that contains at least 10 references and a Methodological Appendix that contains a description of how you gathered your information. You should identify the types and sources of data collected. You should include data in tables, graphs, and/or figures if you have large amounts of quantitative data. Put each table, graph, or figure on a separate page with a descriptive title over it. In the text of the research paper, refer to the table or figure by number and then explain it.

Your grade will be based on how complete your paper is (i.e., does it address all the above points and issues), how organized it is and, most important, how well you connect the various themes, concepts, readings from the course to explain your city. Your paper should reflect your thoughtful engagement with the subject matter of urban sociology. Answer following question: How does your urban research relate to your understanding of class readings, course concepts, and different theories of cities and urban life? Finally, pick two (2) of the six factors of the sociospatial approach as listed on pages 17-18 and discussed elsewhere in the book and explain how they have influenced the development of the city that you are researching. The paper should be clear, concise, and succinct. Grammar, organization, spelling, and clarity all count. No late papers will be accepted.

Option #2: Service Learning Project (30 percent of final grade). For students who choose this option, you will be required to participate in a service learning project for a minimum of 20 hours and write a final paper based upon your experience. You will spend 20 hours working at either the New Orleans City Planning Commission or the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.

1. Service Learning Site: New Orleans City Planning Commission.
Orientation/Facilitator Training: September 20th
Number of Service Learners: 10.
Program Hours:
Agency hours: Mondays-Friday 9:00-5:00
Independent field work, weekly e-mail communication
Attend 4-5 meetings throughout New Orleans Area, 10/1/01 - 11/12/01
Two on-site meetings the weeks of 10/8/01 and 11/5/01

Project Description: New Orleans City Planning Commission is hosting a series of Zoning Mapping Workshops in order to receive public input for the revision and refining of the City's Zoning Ordinance based on the recently revised Land Use Plan. Student Service Learners will assist with a series of Zoning Mapping Workshops to be held in each Planning District in New Orleans by creating and preparing documentation, helping to facilitate, taking notes and interacting with the public in order to identify conflicts and needs.

2. Service Learning Site: New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation
Orientation: TBA
Number of Service Learning Students: 6
Program Hours:
Agency hours: Mondays-Friday 9:00-5:00
Independent field work, weekly e-mail communication
Two on-site meetings the weeks of 10/8/01 and 11/5/01

Project Description: With a mission to drive leisure travel to New Orleans, the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation is seeking motivated student Service Learners to help educate and attract potential tourists to New Orleans by providing rich content on the French Quarter for their website: This content will be used to create an online guide to the French Quarter, which will expose visitors to the notably diverse architectural styles of the historic area and will educate the visitor about the great variety of uses, including residential, entertainment and commercial, historically and presently found in the French Quarter. Student service learners will be expected to create a comprehensive educational guide to French Quarter Architecture which will be accessible through, one of the most popular websites for New Orleans' visitors. After using the French Quarter Online guide, visitors will be able to identify the physical characteristics of the architecture as well as have a better understanding of the French Quarter community.

The primary goal of both these service learning projects is to link your community work and experience in the New Orleans community to the course material. Service learning is also a way of illustrating the larger substantive elements to which the course pertains.

There are three components to any service learning activity: service, personal insight, and academic knowledge. The service component provides the context and content of the volunteering experience as you enter into the community to donate time and skills. The personal experience of volunteering often forces you to learn about yourself, to question your own beliefs, values, prejudices, ways of viewing the world, and the like. Academic learning occurs as you connect classroom learning with the real world, observing and participating in practitioners' daily activities. The service learning work will help reinforce the theoretical concepts and ideas introduced in the textbook and discussed in class through interactions with people in the New Orleans community. You will discover on your own the congruencies and discrepancies between theories and reality, and more important, learn to think sociologically.

Your service learning grade will be determined in two ways: First, by December 3, students should turn in a stapled packet with a copy of each of their Weekly E-mail Updates which will include:

Subject: Gotham/CPC or NOTMC
Number of Service Hours Completed:
Completed tasks:
Future tasks identified:
Last Update Should Include:
Total Hours Completed for the Semester:
Supervisor's Signature__________________________

You are also required to attend at least two in-class sessions where you will discuss your service learning experience with others. These sessions will be held during class time on the dates listed below in the course schedule.

Second, you are required to write a ten page paper that links the course material - e.g., concepts, theories, and related academic knowledge about cities and urban life - with your service learning experience. This paper is also due in class on the last day of school. Below are my expectations for this paper.

Very briefly describe your service learning site, including its official purpose, the clientele it serves, the structure of the program, the training and use of personnel, and your role as a volunteer. When you are writing about your site, keep in mind the significant differences between comments that are descriptive (observations), comments that discuss your feelings about what you are describing (reactions), and comments that detail conclusions about what you saw (interpretations). You should not spend a lot of time describing mundane or ongoing activities of the various small groups or their activities at the site, or what you did each time you visited the site. Keep in mind that your description should provide preliminary information that will give the necessary context for the more important components of the paper: your analysis and reflection.

Provide a critical analysis of your service learning experience. Discuss how the concepts from the readings are illustrated in your activities or in the group's operations or the community's organization. Answer the following questions: What kinds of urban problems are being addressed by the community organization(s) you are involved with? What impacts do you see the organization or agencies making on the New Orleans community? Finally, and most importantly, which concepts and theories addressed in the textbook and class help you to understand the community or the group you are involved with?

Discuss what you learned from your service learning experience. This may include discussions of emotional responses, contemplation of political implications, and reflections on your own personal views of how the service learning experience has caused you to think differently about life. What impact is your service learning work having on you? How does your service learning experience relate to your understanding of class readings, course concepts, and different theories of cities and urban life? How has your service experience affected your views of cities and New Orleans?

Your paper should build upon your practical experiences at the service learning site and reflect your thoughtful engagement with the subject matter of urban sociology. You should deliberately apply the sociological concepts and theories learned in the class to your description, analysis, and reflection. The three parts - description, analysis, and reflection - should not be kept artificially separate, but should instead be interwoven as appropriate throughout your paper. Grammar, organization, spelling, and clarity all count. Though everyone's experience is different, I think you should be able to complete the paper in about ten typed doubled-spaced pages. No late papers will be accepted.

Group Discussion and Outline (10 percent).
Finally, ten percent of your grade will be based upon my evaluation of your participation in class and three group discussions held during the last two weeks of class. After Thanksgiving, the class will be divided into ten groups composed of about six people. Each group will read assigned readings from the City Reader and meet the following day in class to discuss the readings. Each group will discuss the readings, asking questions about the texts, and identify the main points. During these class meetings, you will consider yourselves a group of urban planners and urban policy analysts discharged with finding ways to remedy metropolitan problems and conflicts. You will identify, discuss, and recommend policies, based on the insights you gather from the City Reader, that urban and metropolitan leaders could implement to prevent further urban decline, stabilize and revitalize cities, and create prosperous metropolitan areas. At the end of the discussion each group will turn in a written outline that (1) critically evaluates the policy solutions proposed by authors in the City Reader and, (2) provides a series of policy recommendations that your group thinks could be implemented. I will have more to say about these group discussions in November.

I require students to attend class regularly and will take roll at the beginning of each class period. Be aware that just because I do not take attendance does not mean that I have overlooked absentee students. Four or more unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your final grade by one letter grade. An unexcused absence is missing class without the professor's permission or without presenting a valid excuse within twenty four hours. All students are required to attend all classes unless they are ill or prevented from attending by exceptional circumstances. Preparedness, attendance and participation are expected and will have a bearing on final grades.

Everyone is encouraged to participate through open discussion and questions. Class participation includes sharing thoughts and ideas, observations, assessments, and questions during class time. Thoughtful participation means regularly attending class and being prepared to discuss the assigned subject matter. Please do not be worried about asking "dumb questions." If you are confused, chances are there are numerous other people who are also befuddled and will welcome your efforts at clarification. Lastly, be on time to class and do not bring your cell phones. Anybody who has ever spoken in front a group knows that it can be very confusing for a speaker when people wander in and out or when phones ring. I always try to treat students with courtesy and respect. It makes life easier for all of us when you reciprocate.

First Examination (Monday, 9/24) = 20% of final grade
Second Examination (Friday, 10/26) = 20% of final grade
Third Examination (Saturday, 12/15) = 20% of final grade
Group Discussions (11/30 - 12/5) = 10% of final grade
Final Paper (due date: Friday, 12/7) = 30% of final grade

I will use the following scale to translate total scores into final course grades:

98-100 = A+             88-89 = B+                 78-79 = C+              68-69= D+
94-97 = A                 82-87 = B                    72-77 = C                62-67 = D
90-93 = A-                80-81 = B-                  70-71 = C-              60-61 = D-

For students who fall within a borderline range, I will evaluate the trend of your individual examination scores, the quality of your city presentation, and your class attendance and participation. I do not give extra credit, extra assignments, nor other opportunities for improving grades. Moreover, I do not negotiate about grades, except when you believe there is an explicit error in the grading procedures. Lastly, no grades will be determined by a curve.

All students are required to abide by the Tulane University Honor Code. This means that "the presence of a student's name on any work submitted in completion of an academic assignment is considered to be an assurance that the work and ideas are the result of the student's own intellectual effort, stated in her or his own words, and produced independently, unless clear and explicit acknowledgment of the sources for the work and ideas is included. This principle applies to papers, tests, homework assignments, artistic productions, laboratory reports, computer programs, and other assignments" (Tulane Undergraduate Catalog 1999-2001, p. 15).


Part I
Week #1 : Introduction to Urban Sociology.

8/29 (Wednesday) - 8/31 (Friday).

- The New Urban Sociology. Gottdiener and Hutchison.
- Preface. Pp. xiii-xvii.
- Chapter 1. "The New Urban Sociology." Pp. 1-19.

- The City Reader.
- Kingsley Davis. 1965. "The Urbanization of the Human Population." Pp. 4-13.
- Lewis Mumford. 1937. "What Is a City?" Pp. 92-96.

Week #2: The Origins of Urbanization and the Characteristics of Cities


9/5 (Wednesday) - 9/7 (Friday).

- The New Urban Sociology. Gottdiener and Hutchison.
- Chapter 2. "The Origins of Urbanization and the Characteristics of Cities." Pp. 21-39.
- Chapter 3. "Urbanization in the United States." Pp. 41-58.

- The City Reader.
- V. Gordon Child. 1950 . "The Urban Revolution." Pp. 22-30.
- Friedrich Engels. 1845. "The Great Towns." Pp. 46-55.

Weeks #3: Suburbanization in the United States.

9/10 (Monday) - 9/14 (Friday).
- The New Urban Sociology.
- Chapter 4. "The Metropolitan Period in the United States: 1920-1960." Pp. 59-75.
- Chapter 5: "The Restructuring of Settlement Space: 1960-present." Pp. 77-102.

- The City Reader.
- Herbert J. Gans. 1967. "Levittown and America." Pp. 63-68.
- Sam Bass Warner, Jr. 1972. "The Megalopolis: 1920-" Pp. 69-76.

- 9/12 (Wednesday). Library Workshop for Students Choosing to do Option #1 of the Urban Research Project and Paper: Urban Case Study. We will meet in the library. Presentation by Steven Fowlkes, Information Services Department. Service Learning Students are not required to attend.

- Video: "Understanding Urban Sprawl" (9/14 Friday).

Weeks #4: Traditional and Contemporary Perspectives in Urban Sociology.

9/17 (Monday).

- The New Urban Sociology.
- Chapter 6. "The Rise of Urban Sociology." Pp. 103-126.

- The City Reader.
- Lewis Wirth. 1938. "Urbanism as a Way of Life." Pp. 97-105.
- Ernest Burgess. 1925. "The Growth of the City: An Introduction to a Research Project." Pp. 153-62.

9/19 (Wednesday)

- The New Urban Sociology.
- Chapter 7. "Contemporary Urban Sociology: The Socio-Spatial Approach." Pp. 127-150.

9/21 (Friday). Review.

9/24 (Monday). EXAM #1.

Part II

Weeks #5-6: Class, Gender, Ethnicity, and Immigration.

9/26 (Wednesday) - 10/1 (Monday)

- The New Urban Sociology.
-Chapter 8. "People, Lifestyles, and the Metropolis." Pp. 151-81.

- The City Reader.
- Leonie Sandercock and Ann Forsyth. 1992. "A Gender Agenda New Directions for Planning Theory." Pp. 446-59.

Week #6: Neighborhoods and Theories of Urban Life.

10/3 (Wednesday) - 10/5 (Friday)
- The New Urban Sociology.
- Chapter 9. "Neighborhoods, the Public Environment, and Theories of Urban Life." Pp. 183-205.

- The City Reader.
- Jane Jacobs. 1961. "The Uses of Sidewalks: Safety." Pp. 106-111.

- Video: "Space Invaders." (10/5 Friday).

Week #7: Poverty and Residential Segregation.

10/8 (Monday) - 10/12 (Friday).
- The New Urban Sociology.
- Chapter 10. "Metropolitan Problems: Poverty, Racism, Crime, Housing, and Fiscal Crisis." Pp. 207-37.

- The City Reader.
- W.E.B DuBois. 1899. "The Negro Problems of Philadelphia,: "The Question of Earning a Living" and "Color Prejudice." Pp. 56-62.
- William Julius Wilson. 1996. "From Institutional to Jobless Ghettos." Pp. 106-111.

- Gotham, Kevin Fox. 2000. "Urban Space, Restrictive Covenants, and the Origin of Racial Residential Segregation in a U.S. City, 1900-1950." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 24(3): 616-33. September 2000.

- 10/12 (Friday). In-class rap session with service learning students.

Week #8-9: Schools and Fiscal Crisis.

10/15 (Monday) - 10/22 (Monday).

- Video: "Children in America's Schools" with Bill Moyers.
- Kozol. Savage Inequalities.

10/19 (Friday). Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, 9:00 - 10:30. A forum on role of business in education with Duane Ackerman, Stephan Bell-Rose, and Jonathan Kozol.

10/24 (Wednesday) Review.

10/26 (Friday). EXAM #2.

Part III

Week #10-11: Local Politics.

10/29 (Monday) - 11/2 (Friday).

- The New Urban Sociology.
- Chapter 11. "Local Politics: City and Suburban Governments." Pp. 239-60.

- The City Reader.
- John Mollenkopf. 1992. "How to Study Urban Political Power." Pp. 219-28.

Week #12-13: Urban/Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and the Future.

11/5 (Monday) - 11/9 (Friday).

- The New Urban Sociology. Chapter 14. "Environmental Issues and Metropolitan Planning." Pp. 307-34.

- The City Reader.
- Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout. 1998. "Modernism and Early Urban Planning 1870-1940." Pp. 299-313.
- Ebenezer Howard. 1898. "Author's Introduction" and "The Town-Country Magnet." Pp. 321-329.
- Le Corbusier. 1929. "A Contemporary City." Pp. 336- 343.
- Frank Lloyd Wright. 1935. "Broadacre City: A New Community Plan." Pp. 344-349.

- 11/9 (Friday). Video: "Taken for a Ride." By Jim Klein and Martha Olson.

11/12 (Monday) - 11/16 (Friday).
- The New Urban Sociology. Chapter 15. "Metropolitan Social Policy and the Future of Urban Sociology." Pp. 315-339.

- The City Reader.
- Mike Davis. 1990. "Fortress L.A." Pp. 193-98.
- David Harvey. 1992. "Social Justice, Postmodernism, and the City." Pp. 199-207.
- Sharon Zukin. "Whose Culture? Whose City?" Pp. 131-42.

11/19 (Monday). No class.

11/21 (Wednesday) - 11/23 (Friday) THANKSGIVING BREAK. NO SCHOOL.

Week #14-15. Group Discussions and Urban Research.

11/26 (Monday)- In class session with urban case study people to discuss final paper.

11/28 (Wednesday). In-class session with service learning students to discuss final paper.

11/30 (Friday) - 12/5 (Wednesday). GROUP DISCUSSIONS.

11/30 (Friday). The City Reader.
- Michael E. Porter. 1995. "The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City." Pp. 278-94.
- Allan Jacobs and Donald Appleyard. 1987. "Toward an Urban Design Manifesto." Pp. 491-502.

- 12/3 (Monday). The City Reader.
- Alexander Garvin. 1996. "A Realistic Approach to City and Suburban Planning" and Ingredients of Success." Pp. 296-409.
- Anthony Downs. 1989. "The Need for a New Vision for the Development of U.S. Metropolitan Areas." Pp. 545-556.

- 12/5 (Wednesday). The City Reader.
- Stephen Wheeler. 1998. "Planning Sustainable and Livable Cities." Pp. 434-45.
- David Clark. 1996. "The Future Urban World." Pp. 579-89.
- 12/7 (Friday). Last Day. Papers due. Review for final exam. Course Evaluations.

12/15 (Saturday). EXAM #3. 1:00PM.