Urban Sociology

Adrienne Falcon
Carleton College


In general, in this course we explore ideas about cities and humans who live there through a series of lenses including: city as symbol, city as location of assimilation and integration and the opposite, city as a site of segregation and extremes of power and capital. How do cities work and for whom? By combing theoretical readings with case studies, we will move from historical ethnographies of cities and communities, to current studies of cities in global context.

For this quarter, this course will focus on two main themes, on the one hand how do built spaces affect the people in them and in turn, how do people affect the cities built around them. A core component of this question is to consider the sustainability of cities. By sustainability, I mean what are the opportunities and challenges in a city not only in terms of environmental sustainability, but also socially and economically. As we consider this overarching question of built space on people and vice versa, we will also look at conflict, within the academy and within cities, and think about the effects of individuals as scholars and practitioners on the landscape of cities as well as organized and unorganized groups of people.

Course Size:

Course Context:

This is an mid level class with a prerequisite of either introduction to anthropology or sociology.

Course Goals:

Academically, my goals for the class are to have students broader their knowledge of the history and development of the field of sociology, in particular urban sociology.
More practically, students should:
- gain lenses with which they can experience and analyze a city as well
- consider ways in which people are impacted by and impact the world around them.


Students will be assessed through a variety of writing projects from journals to a formal research paper as well as on their participation in class. For more details, see the syllabus.


Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 67kB Sep21 06)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Required Course Materials:
Kasinitz, Philip. Metropolis: Center and Symbol of Our Times
Logan, John and Harvey Molotch. Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place
Portes, Alejandro, and Alex Stepick. City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami
Small, Mario Luis. Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio