Great American City by Robert J. Sampson
Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

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For over fifty years numerous public intellectuals and social theorists have insisted that community is dead. Some would have us believe that we act solely as individuals choosing our own fates regardless of our surroundings, while other theories place us at the mercy of global forces beyond our control. These two perspectives dominate contemporary views of society, but by rejecting the importance of place they are both deeply flawed. Based on one of the most ambitious studies in the history of social science, Great American City argues that communities still matter because life is decisively shaped by where you live. To demonstrate the powerfully enduring impact of place, Robert J. Sampson presents here the fruits of over a decade’s research in Chicago combined with his own unique personal observations about life in the city, from Cabrini Green to Trump Tower and Millennium Park to the Robert Taylor Homes. He discovers that neighborhoods influence a remarkably wide variety of social phenomena, including crime, health, civic engagement, home foreclosures, teen births, altruism, leadership networks, and immigration. Even national crises cannot halt the impact of place, Sampson finds, as he analyzes the consequences of the Great Recession and its aftermath, bringing his magisterial study up to the fall of 2010. Following in the influential tradition of the Chicago School of urban studies but updated for the twenty-first century, Great American City is at once a landmark research project, a commanding argument for a new theory of social life, and the story of an iconic city.

About Robert J. Sampson

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Robert J. Sampson is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and coauthor of Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points through Life and Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70.
Published March 25, 2012 by University of Chicago Press. 552 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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New York Journal of Books

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“Singular in its breadth of perspectives . . .”

Feb 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Great American City: Chicago ...

London School of Economics

Although his description of how poverty spreads unevenly in particular neighbourhoods implies that a neighbourhood’s spatial position contributes to its poverty, the question of what are the spatial mechanisms resulting in such patterning is not fully explored, except to say that a neighbourhood...

Dec 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Great American City: Chicago ...

Stanford Social Innovation Review

Put simply, the vast majority of neighborhoods in American cities do not “trade places.” Instead, concentrated poverty and its opposite, concentrated affluence, are surprisingly persistent, leading to what I have called the “enduring neighborhood effect.”.

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