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Lecture 4

Week 4 Lecture

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John Hannigan

The Urban Villagers -area of “West End” (Boston) -Herbert Gans lived in West End through period of October 1957 -West End does not exist anymore, torn down under federal urban renewal program between 1958-1960 -he went in as sociologist and urban planner primarily in role of being interested in slum in Boston -discovered buildings were tired on outside but were not bad on inside because people who lived there did not want to spend $ fixing it up because would need to pay more taxes -opposite of social disorganization, in fact had social organization -spent a lot of time focusing on peer group = group of teenagers -everything they saw were part of the peer group -this is an example of urban space that is parochial, which falls part way to private and public -in case of West End, people spent time in public spaces (street) -interactions on street and sidewalks were not interactions with strangers but with peers -nature of community – people that lived there used the term “our neighbourhood” -most important institution was catholic church (Gans said: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church) -West Enders were religious people and accepted moral norms and symbols of catholic religion -in terms of participation in community, St. Joseph was central institution -West End full of commercial establishments – taverns, bars, stores, restaurants -many of these places were where residents of West End hung out -rather than hanging out inside of apartment building, they hung out on sidewalks or commercial establishments – were important nodes in community networks -there were a number of neighbourhood scales – lunch counters (before the days of fast food, did not have fast food chain, so people went out to eat lunch and go into low-end restaurants, called fine-and-dine stores) -found in stores: Woolworth’s, Idresge’s, Zeller’s -lunch counters were one of commercial establishments -there were a large number of variety stores -there has been a change in nature of variety stores, back in those days, functions were to buy ice cream and hang out with friends -barber shops – in the days long before unisex hair salons, barber shops were gendered, males had sports counter -there were also taverns (bar) -Italians were into large drinking of beer and served in taverns, was a culture preserved in wine -many of these residents in these areas would spend a lot of time hanging out in these places -later on, have another term to describe these places: third places = meaning different from private/public, had a lot going on that contributed to life in community -taverns and lunch counters (luncheonettes) were centre of places to leave messages for other people -people wouldn’t have telephones, so would communicate by leaving messages where their friends would leave regularly in/out -if they were younger, they would leave messages with waiters in luncheonettes -managers would be busy taking messages for their customers -were centers of exchange for news and gossip about people relationship, etc. -much of them had to do with small gambling, “The Numbers” -typically, before the days of online gambling, if you wanted to place a bet on anything (horse race, basketball game), you would basically place a bet with a guy in neighbourhood who was local bookie -1950s was an era where there was crackdown of betting and crime, where Las Vegas was centre of various gaming and activities -some of these commercial establishments served as hangouts for heavy gambling, early version of slot machines/pinball machines, etc., not so much of drugs/prostitution -main idea: people in West End in Italian American community spend a lot of their everyday life not inside in living room, but outside particularly in summer more than winter because was not air-conditioned in home so would go outside to taverns, street corners -home away from home illustrated this, having gossip, placing, bets, gambling…etc. The Stranger -Georg Simmel was European theorists of social transformation -talked about growth of large industrial urban centres in particularly Berlin (1800s) -one of world’s differences was cities that were large, were upwards in 500,000 or more -was clearly impossible in large cities for everybody to know everyone else -Simmel in 19 century was more concerned about interactions that went on in parts of city where people were strangers -by and large, vast majority of people on streets are not-known people, are strangers -Simmel interested in what kind of consequences and implications this had -Simmel said what people do so that they’re not overwhelmed is to adopt impersonal personality where you put on a mask and treat other people in formal type of manner and treat them in impersonal way (don’t say hello to everyone in the morning) -Lyn Lofland’s book, A World of Strangers, subtitle: Order and Action in Urban Public Space -subtitle indicates while public places (Dundas Square) was seen to be no structuring/ordering at all, all strangers circling around -public life and interactions with strangers has a lot of different routines -as sociologist were able to discover this by observational methods, would situate yourself on bench in Dundas Square and watch people, sitting in waiting room in bus terminal and observe what’s going on and observe different patterns of structuring -the word “stranger” has a number of meaningful meanings -the term stranger occurs a lot in pop culture -one place that you find a lot of concern with portrayal of stranger is in particular genre of movies – the Western -in classic Western, the stranger is regular stalk character that appears in ma
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