Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
The recent surge of immigration has created rapid ethnic change in many US cities, some of which still struggle with the movement of African American households into formerly white areas and with gentrification, i.e., white households invading minority neighborhoods. Such rapid ethnic and racial change poses challenges to intergroup harmony. In this ethnographic study of four Chicago neighborhoods, Wilson (Harvard) and Taub (Univ. of Chicago) consider how residents respond to these conditions. They explore factors that engender antagonisms between groups in competition for housing; local institutions, e.g., churches; public services such as education; political office; and jobs. Groups feel threatened when they are in the numerical minority, relatively unorganized, and confronted with competition in multiple spheres of their lives. Framing their view is the decision to exit the neighborhood or to fight to keep it stable and the group dominant. They conclude that urban America is "likely to remain divided, racially and culturally" with lower-class African Americans a source of tensions for all groups. Aimed at a general rather than an academic audience, the book synthesizes and illustrates much of what is known about intergroup relations in urban neighborhoods. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Public and academic library collections, lower-division undergraduate and up. R. A. Beauregard Columbia University
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Sociologists Wilson of Harvard (When Work Disappears) and Taub of the University of Chicago analyze four working- and lower-middle-class Chicago neighborhoods to assess why some reach the "tipping point" of rapid ethnic change. Based on research conducted from 1993 to 1995, the conclusions remain timely. In the predominantly white "Beltway," civic-minded residents maintained community solidarity. In "Dover," a mixed-ethnic community with an influx of Mexican-Americans, white members of existing associations made no attempt at outreach, and the churches remained ethnically divided. Whites and Latinos united only regarding schools though fueled by anti-black sentiment. The largely Mexican (and transient) "Archer Park" had weak civic institutions, as kinship ties remained most important. "Groveland," a mostly African-American community, remained stable; residents many of whom held civil service or unionized jobs expressed greater racial tolerance than elsewhere. The authors' conclusion: the stronger neighborhood social organizations are, the longer it takes a neighborhood to "tip." To better manage change, diverse communities must join in common goals, such as improving the schools. The unresolved shadow over all this is society's unwillingness to repair inner-city ghettos, since their presence heightens racial and class tensions in nearby neighborhoods. Author tour. (Oct. 23) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved