The Best Books On How Neighborhoods Perpetuate Inequality

Douglas S. Massey Author Of American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass
By Douglas S. Massey

The Books I Picked & Why

Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

By Robert J. Sampson

Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

Why this book?

Rob Sampson has compiled the most comprehensive dataset ever to document the existence multiple inequalities across neighborhoods in major urban area and how they create unequal social worlds by race and class that serve to perpetuate inequality over time.


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Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality

By Patrick Sharkey

Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality

Why this book?

Pat Sharkey draws on a rich longitudinal dataset (the Panel Study of Income Dynamics) that follows individuals and households over decades and keeps track of them as they change, move, and form new households. He uses it to show that Black Americans are unique in the degree to which they are confined to poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods across time and the generations, and how neighborhood disadvantage works so powerfully to perpetuate poverty and stymie upward mobility.


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Divergent Social Worlds: Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide

By Ruth D. Peterson, Lauren J. Krivo

Divergent Social Worlds: Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide

Why this book?

Peterson and Krivo meticulously demonstrate how residential segregation creates and maintains inequality in neighborhood crime rates using data from their groundbreaking National Neighborhood Crime Study. Using a nationally representative sample, the authors provide a more comprehensive picture of the social conditions underlying neighborhood crime and violence than has ever before been drawn.


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Cycle of Segregation: Social Processes and Residential Stratification

By Maria Krysan, Kyle Crowder

Cycle of Segregation: Social Processes and Residential Stratification

Why this book?

In The Cycle of Segregation offer a major breakthrough in our understanding of the roots of residential segregation in U.S. society today. Their social-structural sorting perspective elegantly and convincingly explains how black and Hispanic segregation can persist even as minority incomes rise and discrimination and prejudice in housing markets decline.


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Spheres of Influence: The Social Ecology of Racial and Class Inequality: The Social Ecology of Racial and Class Inequality

By Douglas S. Massey, Stefanie Brodmann

Spheres of Influence: The Social Ecology of Racial and Class Inequality: The Social Ecology of Racial and Class Inequality

Why this book?

In addition to neighborhoods, Americans also experience rampant inequalities across other social settings such as families, schools, and peer networks. These settings define the ecological context within which humans develop and each “sphere of influence” determines the development trajectories of people as the move from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. This book examines how each of these spheres affects human development at different stages of the life course among White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian young people in the United States to produce the racial and class inequalities that characterize contemporary American society.


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