[URBANTH-L]Is Diversity Bad for Cities? (Sam Beck)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Fri Aug 10 13:23:53 EDT 2007

From: Sam Beck <sbeck at med.cornell.edu>

This is an important article and has to be taken seriously by all of us.  I 
have not read the book, but the article made me think of some 
anthropological responses.

1.  this is a correlation study, not cause and effect.  there is no possible 
way for him to have accounted for all variables that impact on the issue he 
is investigating.  It seems like there is no mention of class issues here.

2.  to varify what he presents it would be necessary to carry out 
ethnographic research among a variety of communities.  Surveys are notorious 
for reductionisms of all sorts.  We need to make some observations of 
people's behavior, rather than self-reporting.

3.  He does indicate an understanding of historical issues by indicating 
that this might only be something occurring in the moment, but may not be a 
long-term trend.  Yet, it seems that he does not indicate the conditions and 
forces and processes involved in bringing this particular issue into being.

4.  I only have anecdotal evidence.  In New York City and in Providence, RI, 
I have found people of various ethnic and racialized groups to be forming 
communities.  He seems to have his own sense about what a community looks 
like and when he cannot find people who resonate to that sense of community, 
civic engagement is absence.  This is troubling.  Communities come into 
being as a result of some very specific events and processes, otherwise 
civic engagement processes can lie dormant.

In any case, some idea and some discussion points.

Thanks for sending the article.


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