CUSS Digest (August 2020)

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Dear all,

Please find our August digest below.  Contents include:

  1. Community and Urban Sociology Section Newsletter
  2. Virtual Engagement Event
  3. Faculty Position
  4. New Book Announcement

This is my final digest as the chair of the section. It has been a pleasure and honor to serve the section in this role. I look forward to the great work that incoming chair Derek Hyra and the other section officers, council, and committee members will accomplish in the year ahead.

All the best,


Japonica Brown-Saracino
Professor of Sociology & WGS

Boston University
Chair, ASA Community and Urban Sociology Section

1. Summer 2020 Newsletter

Summer 2020, Vol. 33, No. 2

2. Annual Conference – Virtual Engagement

As you know, the 2020 ASA meeting in San Francisco has been cancelled.  Instead, ASA has organized a virtual engagement event that you may participate in.  Please see the ASA website to register and for additional information. Once you register for the event and log into the ASA site you can find links to virtual platforms for viewing and participating in the sessions embedded in session description pages.

Below, please find a preliminary list of section sessions and meetings, as well as of other relevant panels that section members have sent to me.

I hope to see many of you (virtually) at our sessions, as well as at our annual business meeting, where we will report on section news and celebrate our award winners.   Our Communications Committee encourages you to promote conference activities by using the following hashtags: #comurb and #ASA20


Work, Community, and City

Sat, August 8, 2:30 to 4:10pm (PDT)


  • This session brings together the subjects of work and community and answers questions about how employees, freelancers, and even more precarious workers find community in the city. With the high cost of living in cities, stagnating wages, and long hours, many urban workers struggle to find like-minded and meaningful community. Papers in this session will address the following questions: How does the culture of creative class cities promote or harm a sense of community? What kinds of spaces facilitate connections, engage people in community-building, and bring people together? How do urban workers experience quality of life in cities and communities?

Cities and Big Data

Sun, August 9, 8:30 to 10:10am (PDT)


  • The use of ‘big data’ for social sciences is on the rise. Social media and other location-based services provide an abundance of fine-grained data to a high geographical resolution. New computational methods allow researchers to analyze high volumes of user-generated location points, travels, tweets, reviews, among others. This context poses an opportunity for urban sociologists to expand traditional quantitative and qualitative methods in researching people’s dynamics in the city, and the impact of new technologies on the urban experience. This panel provides a space for discussion among researchers interested in exploring the possibilities of ‘big data’ analysis for urban sociology.

New Forms of Precarious Urban Labor

Sun, August 9, 10:30am to 12:10pm (PDT)


  • The rise of platform based gig work, such as driving an Uber or finding short stints on Taskrabbit, is often linked back to the Great Recession as workers attempted to make do with less and diversify their income sources. But as platform-based gig work enters its second decade, the question arises, how has gig work given rise to new forms of urban precarity? More broadly, what is the impact of the new urban economy on workers, their careers, and life chances? This session invites papers that explore new forms of precarious labor by considering some of the following: What is the relationship of different types of platform-based gig work to urban place-making, e.g. the experience of “eyes on the street”, as workers are increasingly found in co-working spaces, coffee shops, and parks? In what ways do new forms of labor shape precarity for urban workers, as they encounter increased and outsourced risk in the workplace? Alternatively, has the reported flexibility of the work allowed for improved financial security through a side hustle for those with in-demand skills and high levels of social and financial capital? And finally, how do we theorize the forms of precarious labor and platform-based gig work within the study of urban inequality and racial segregation?

Community and Urban Sociology Section Business Meeting

Sun, August 9, 12:30 to 1:10pm (PDT)

Community and Urban Sociology Section Roundtables

Sun, August 9, 1:10 to 2:10pm (PDT)

Theorizing Renters and Rental Housing in the United States

Sun, August 9, 2:30 to 4:10pm (PDT)


  • In U.S. cities, the percentage of residents renting units versus owning homes has reached a historic high. Given the growing share of renters and increasing rental costs across the country’s largest metropolitan areas, this session invites papers that explore various facets of rental markets in the United States, particularly as they relate to urban inequality. Potential topics of interest could examine how residents navigate unaffordable housing markets to find adequate housing; the role of landlords, property managers, real estate investors, and city officials vis-à-vis rental markets; or dynamics within subgroups of renters. Papers may also explore topics such as: cost-saving measures such as doubling up; the emergence of multi-tenant homes and short-term rental services; the global circuits of finance capital and how they relate to the rental market; and social movements mobilizing for greater tenant protections and dignified housing. Overall, this session seeks submissions that broadly theorize various aspects of rental markets. It will examine rental relationships as engines of inequality in the United States, as well as the resistance that it engenders in the process.

2020 ASA Special Session

Color, Race and Ethnicity: Where/How Do Space and Place Matter?

Sun, August 9, 10:30am to 12:10pm (PDT)

Session Description:

  • The analysis of space traces back to the beginnings of American Sociology with The Philadelphia Negro (1899). Since then, sociologists have claimed it causes a wide variety of social outcomes, but we still do not understand if space and place are cause or consequence of the social. This panel discussion treats racial matters as spatial matters that implicate a variety of social phenomena. Panelists explore space as a social product and consider how place-making shapes the experience of inequality. They discuss the relationship between agency, culture and structural constraints in the urban environment to generate new ways of thinking about urban potentialities and possibility.

Displacement and Disparities in Urban Environments

Monday, August 10, 2:30 – 4:10 PM 

  • This session will explore power inequalities in urban areas through an examination of issues related to exclusion, displacement, and gentrification in the United States and abroad. Scholars in this session will examine displacement through their careful studies of key stakeholder groups, including landlords/property managers, gentrifiers, government officials, and community members. Panelists will discuss methodological concerns and theoretical implications in studying gentrifiers, landlord and property managers’ decision-making processes in evictions, the role of race and family structure in eviction, and the relationship between political elites, government officials, and community activists in redevelopment projects.


This year Marquette University will be hiring for a tenure track position within sociology, broadly in the area of race and ethnicity. We believe some members of the Section on Community and Urban Sociology might be interested in this position. As chair of the section, is it possible to forward the ad on through your listserve? Our deadline is for the application is September 7th.

The job ID in the ASA job bank is: 16428

Our ad is located here as well:



Hurricane Harvey’s Aftermath by Kevin Fitzpatrick and Matthew Spialek (NYU Press)


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