Does urbanism destroy community or create it? Does the urban experience vary for different groups of people (by gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality)? What explains processes of urbanization and suburbanization? Why are businesses often located in the center of the city and residential neighborhoods outside of the center? How do neighborhoods develop distinctive characters and populations? How can we explain the rise and persistence of urban poverty and residential segregation? How are neighborhoods shaped by political and economic changes of the early 21st century? Who controls public space, and what is “allowed” in it? How do urban areas and neighborhoods respond to crises such as hurricanes and terrorist attacks? How do different cities respond to the needs of the poorest residents, and what shapes these responses? These are some of the questions we’ll address in this course. To do so, we’ll draw on several theoretical and methodological approaches to urban sociology. We’ll use these tools to examine neighborhoods and urban politics and policy in depth.
We will try to keep these ideas grounded in practical applications to Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas, through a variety of projects both in-class and out of class.