News & Notes
- Jean Beaman, is joining the faculty in the sociology department at the University of California-Santa Barbara in Fall 2019. She was previously on the faculty at Purdue University.
- Judith R. Halasz, State University of New York at New Paltz, received the 2019 Research Mentor Award from the State University of New York at New Paltz for her extensive work supervising theses and undergraduate conference presentations. Each year, the interdisciplinary Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Committee selects one faculty member for this honor. Judy is the first sociologist at the institution to receive this award. Judy was also recently elected to chair the Community Research and Development Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems for 2019-2021.
- Matthew H. McLeskey, University at Buffalo, SUNY, was awarded an Advanced Ph.D. Fellowship from the University at Buffalo’s Humanities Institute for his dissertation project, “Life in a Leaded Landscape: Understanding Housing, Stigma, and Struggle in the Rust Belt.” Lead exposure entails more than physiological and material consequences. Consequently, this dissertation documents the material and cultural processes defining the threat of lead exposure for tenants and landlords in disinvested communities to grasp how this urban epidemic further stigmatizes marginalized neighborhoods in post-industrial cities and contributes to debates on place-based stigmatization processes. Using Buffalo as a case of urban decline, multiple qualitative methods – semi-structured interviews, ethnographic observation, and archival research – are employed to capture the lived experience of “leaded life” in relegated areas.
- Stacy Torres, University of California, San Francisco, is the 2019 recipient of the William Foote Whyte Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Sociological Practice and Public Sociology. The award recognizes a scholar who has made notable contributions to sociological practice and public sociology for the discipline and will be conferred in August at the ASA Annual Meeting in New York City.
Precarious Workers in the Speculative City: The Untold Gentrification Story of Tenant Shopkeepers’ Displacement and Resistance in Seoul
-Yewon Andrea Lee
University of Toronto
University of California, Los Angeles.
-César Ayala (chair)
Precarious Workers in the Speculative City: The Untold Gentrification Story of Tenant Shopkeepers’ Displacement and Resistance in Seoul demonstrates how the life chances of tenant shopkeepers in Seoul, Korea, have been critically compromised by the displacement and dispossession that accompany Korean-style gentrification. I focus on tenant shopkeepers as self-employed workers whose capacity to organize has been overlooked within both the labor literature on precarious workers and the urban literature on gentrification. The dissertation explores a classic sociological question first articulated by Marx: How and when can the spatial constraints of fragmented work experience of the self-employed be overcome to activate collective identity formation? Through both ethnographic as well as historical comparative research, the dissertation analyzes how spatial precarity—such as tenant shopkeepers’ lack of ownership rights to their shops, their crucial means of production—is transformed into unique spatial leverage in organizing. Especially, the dissertation identifies how the unprecedented commodification of urban space taking place in the Global South is paving the way for new locations of resistance and new vocabularies of rights challenging the status quo.
- Dana Kornberg, University of Michigan, announces two new journal articles. First, 2019. “Garbage as Fuel: Pursuing Incineration to Counter Stigma in Postcolonial Urban India.” Local Environment 24(1): 1-17. http://doi.org/10.1080/ 13549839.2018. 1545752. This paper explains why local leaders may adopt and promote forms f environmentalism that privilege aesthetic and class-based concerns, displacing environmentalisms of the poor that promote more socially just and sustainable practices. Presenting a case study from Delhi, India, I ask why centralized and mechanized approaches to garbage services, which included incineration or “waste-to-energy,” were promoted over manual recycling systems despite their unproven efficacy and significant expense. I argue that Indian leaders saw incineration as a mechanism for decontaminating garbage, and by association, de-stigmatizing the city’s reputation. Transforming a chaotic cluster of materials – garbage – into a singular object for incineration – fuel – allowed Indian bureaucrats and managers, who tend to be upper-caste men, to claim and profit from materials that are recycled by lower-caste and Muslim informal workers. Second, with Amy Kings and Erin Lane. 2019. “Organizing Under Austerity: How Flint Residents’ Concerns Became the Flint Water Crisis.” Critical Sociology 45(4-5): 583597. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920518757053. What might it take for politically marginalized residents to challenge cuts in public spending that threaten their health and wellbeing? Specifically, how did residents of Flint, Michigan contribute to the decision of an austerity regime that was not accountable to them to spend millions to switch to a safe water source? We examine the influence and limitations of residents and grassroots groups during the 18-month period between April 2014 and October 2015 when the city drew its water from the Flint River. We find that citizen complaints alone were not sufficient, but their efforts resulted in partnerships with researchers whose evidence bolstered their claims, thus inspiring a large contribution from a local foundation to support the switch to a clean water source. Thus, before the crisis gained national media attention, and despite significant constraints, residents’ sustained organization—coupled with scientific evidence that credentialed local claims—motivated the return to the Detroit water system. The Flint case suggests that residents seeking redress under severe austerity conditions may require partnerships with external scientific elites.
- Chris Tilly, University of California, Los Angeles, co-authored with Marie Kennedy “Field education and community-based planning in a worst-case scenario,” Journal of Planning Education and Research, Online First https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X19847725, May 2019. Community-engaged planning education and community-based planning are often uphill battles. This article uses the case of a Mexican village to illustrate a pedagogical model that trains students as participatory planners by immersing them in a community-based planning project, an approach we call transformative learning and community development. We join larger debates on education and participation—arguing that students can and should learn about participatory planning by doing it; that while community participation sometimes reproduces unequal power relations, it can also be structured to challenge them; and that successful planning and teaching require a dialectic between expertise and broad participation.