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Following his award-winning work on inner-city violence, Code of the Street, sociologist Elijah Anderson introduces the concept of the “cosmopolitan canopy”—the urban island of civility that exists amidst the ghettos, suburbs, and ethnic enclaves where segregation is the norm. Under the cosmopolitan canopy, diverse peoples come together, and for the most part practice gett Following his award-winning work on inner-city violence, Code of the Street, sociologist Elijah Anderson introduces the concept of the “cosmopolitan canopy”—the urban island of civility that exists amidst the ghettos, suburbs, and ethnic enclaves where segregation is the norm. Under the cosmopolitan canopy, diverse peoples come together, and for the most part practice getting along. Anderson’s path-breaking study of this setting provides a new understanding of the complexities of present-day race relations and reveals the unique opportunities here for cross-cultural interaction. Anderson walks us through Center City Philadelphia, revealing and illustrating through his ethnographic fieldwork how city dwellers often interact across racial, ethnic, and social borders. People engage in a distinctive folk ethnography. Canopies operating in close proximity create a synergy that becomes a cosmopolitan zone. In the vibrant atmosphere of these public spaces, civility is the order of the day. However, incidents can arise that threaten and rend the canopy, including scenes of tension involving borders of race, class, sexual preference, and gender. But when they do—assisted by gloss—the resilience of the canopy most often prevails. In this space all kinds of city dwellers—from gentrifiers to the homeless, cabdrivers to doormen—manage to co-exist in the urban environment, gaining local knowledge as they do, which then helps reinforce and spread tolerance through contact and mutual understanding. With compelling, meticulous descriptions of public spaces such as 30th Street Station, Reading Terminal Market, and Rittenhouse Square, and quasi-public places like the modern-day workplace, Anderson provides a rich narrative account of how blacks and whites relate and redefine the color line in everyday public life. He reveals how eating, shopping, and people-watching under the canopy can ease racial tensions, but also how the spaces in and between canopies can reinforce boundaries. Weaving colorful observations with keen social insight, Anderson shows how the canopy—and its lessons—contributes to the civility of our increasingly diverse cities.


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Following his award-winning work on inner-city violence, Code of the Street, sociologist Elijah Anderson introduces the concept of the “cosmopolitan canopy”—the urban island of civility that exists amidst the ghettos, suburbs, and ethnic enclaves where segregation is the norm. Under the cosmopolitan canopy, diverse peoples come together, and for the most part practice gett Following his award-winning work on inner-city violence, Code of the Street, sociologist Elijah Anderson introduces the concept of the “cosmopolitan canopy”—the urban island of civility that exists amidst the ghettos, suburbs, and ethnic enclaves where segregation is the norm. Under the cosmopolitan canopy, diverse peoples come together, and for the most part practice getting along. Anderson’s path-breaking study of this setting provides a new understanding of the complexities of present-day race relations and reveals the unique opportunities here for cross-cultural interaction. Anderson walks us through Center City Philadelphia, revealing and illustrating through his ethnographic fieldwork how city dwellers often interact across racial, ethnic, and social borders. People engage in a distinctive folk ethnography. Canopies operating in close proximity create a synergy that becomes a cosmopolitan zone. In the vibrant atmosphere of these public spaces, civility is the order of the day. However, incidents can arise that threaten and rend the canopy, including scenes of tension involving borders of race, class, sexual preference, and gender. But when they do—assisted by gloss—the resilience of the canopy most often prevails. In this space all kinds of city dwellers—from gentrifiers to the homeless, cabdrivers to doormen—manage to co-exist in the urban environment, gaining local knowledge as they do, which then helps reinforce and spread tolerance through contact and mutual understanding. With compelling, meticulous descriptions of public spaces such as 30th Street Station, Reading Terminal Market, and Rittenhouse Square, and quasi-public places like the modern-day workplace, Anderson provides a rich narrative account of how blacks and whites relate and redefine the color line in everyday public life. He reveals how eating, shopping, and people-watching under the canopy can ease racial tensions, but also how the spaces in and between canopies can reinforce boundaries. Weaving colorful observations with keen social insight, Anderson shows how the canopy—and its lessons—contributes to the civility of our increasingly diverse cities.

30 review for The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    His observations are on the money. After a time, I was begging him to interpret his results. He leaves that for the final two chapters which are devastating. I found myself wanting to send them to my brother and ask "is this what you go through?" even as I know that he does. All I can hope is that the canopy expands and expands until that faux civility becomes real civility. His observations are on the money. After a time, I was begging him to interpret his results. He leaves that for the final two chapters which are devastating. I found myself wanting to send them to my brother and ask "is this what you go through?" even as I know that he does. All I can hope is that the canopy expands and expands until that faux civility becomes real civility.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    I thoroughly enjoyed Anderson's ethnographies of my hometown, Philly. I grew up outside of the city and was delighted to learn of these pockets where race and class are allowed to dissolve somewhat. As a fledgling student of urban planning, I loved learning about the role these canopies can play. Denizens gather, cultural exchange occurs, and stereotypes dissolve. He did a great job of outlining their characteristics but I was left wanting. It felt like he laid out what a cosmopolitan canopy is I thoroughly enjoyed Anderson's ethnographies of my hometown, Philly. I grew up outside of the city and was delighted to learn of these pockets where race and class are allowed to dissolve somewhat. As a fledgling student of urban planning, I loved learning about the role these canopies can play. Denizens gather, cultural exchange occurs, and stereotypes dissolve. He did a great job of outlining their characteristics but I was left wanting. It felt like he laid out what a cosmopolitan canopy is but didn't provide any sort of clues as to how they develop or what we can do to foster their growth in our own cities/workplaces. It should also be mentioned that these canopies aren't invincible. There are still jolts that threaten the fabric of these canopies: the "n*gger moments" as Anderson calls them. These are the moments when Blacks are reminded of their racial master status. Sadly, such moments are often perceived by whites as a misunderstanding, an isolated incident in mistaken identity. But for Blacks it's a sharp reminder of their place in the racial hierarchy and that their skin supersedes any class distinction. And for far too many of our Black siblings these "mistakes" end in violence inflicted upon them for the crime of being Black. The author shared someone's experience as a law student, waiting for the bus near their apartment. The police were called on them and they were roughed up and had guns drawn on them by nearly a dozen police. It turned out the suspect the police were looking for was white, but when gunshots had been heard nearby, this man's neighbors (whom he'd seen every day for the years he'd lived there) didn't hesitate to project criminality on this man by virtue of his skin. I thought I was experiencing deja vu as I read this only to realize that it's not an uncommon experience. I've heard a nearly identical story from several prominent Black authors. These abuses of power and authority erode trust in our social fabric. They drive wedges between our communities and further divide us. While these canopies may not address the roots of systemic racism, at the very least they can chip away at morally bankrupt, racist attitudes and beliefs. These changes in individual attitude won't end racism by any stretch of the imagination, but at the very least it can make our public spaces more tolerable for those that have been denied access for far too long.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I am becoming more and more interested in the ethnography of public space -- or perhaps urban spaces in general, and Elijah Anderson's conception of Cosmopolitan Canopies emerges from such an ethnography to think about what works. This ethos of getting along, as well as the tremendous growth in immigration, has given rise to the emergence of what I call cosmopolitan canopies -- settings that offer a respite from the lingering tensions of urban life and an opportunity for diverse peoples to come t I am becoming more and more interested in the ethnography of public space -- or perhaps urban spaces in general, and Elijah Anderson's conception of Cosmopolitan Canopies emerges from such an ethnography to think about what works. This ethos of getting along, as well as the tremendous growth in immigration, has given rise to the emergence of what I call cosmopolitan canopies -- settings that offer a respite from the lingering tensions of urban life and an opportunity for diverse peoples to come together. Canopies are in essence pluralistic spaces where people engage one another in a spirit of civility, or even comity and goodwill. Through personal observation, they may come casually to appreciate one another's differences and emphathize with the other in a spirit of shared humanity. Under the canopy, this sense of familiarity often breeds comfort and encourages all to be on their best behavior, promoting peaceful relations. Here racially, ethnically, and socially diverse peoples spend casual and purposeful time together, coming to know one another through what I call folk ethnography, a form of people watching that allows individuals informally to gather evidence in social interactions that supports their own viewpoints or transforms their commonsense understanding of social life. In this context of diversity and cosmopolitanism, a cognitive and cultural basis for trust is established that often leads to the emergence of more civil behavior. (xiv-xv) Such an ethnography allows Anderson the ability to capture the nuances of race and space and the ways in which people who use such spaces develop their own sense of community and diversity. It's important to note, too, that we are not all just city residents in the wider social gaze: Wirth and Simmel describing urbanites blase indifference to one another, but given way to wariness, especially towards anonymous black males As Anderson later writes: A hierarchy of comfort can be discerned: white women, black women, white men and then black men. In public, ethnicity is not always visible and discernible, but color and gender are. When people look for a read visual cues, these characteristics become significant, and even operative, in determining who means what to whom in the public space. (226) The book opens with a center city walking tour, Anderson describing a walk through the city spaces he will be describing in more detail through use of his journaled entries in italics. His focus is on those places where such typical wariness described above breaks down: Yet there are heterogeneous and densely populated bounded public spaces within cities that offer a respite from this wariness, settings where a mix of people can feel comfortable enough to relax their guard and go about their business more casually. In these areas people display a degree of cosmopolitanism, by which I mean acceptance of the space as belonging to all kinds of people. (3) I like this definition of cosmopolitanism. Also interesting is that the places under study here are not just public spaces: Such goings-on peg this place as a hybrid institution, whose ostensible purpose is to provide fast food but which also serves as a site for slow-paces sociability. The Barnes & Noble bookstore up the street in the next block serves a similar hybrid purpose. (21) Also key to the dynamic of the whole is the segregated city and spaces that segregation creates. No matter where you are, tehse segregated spaces are part of your map of the city and your commonsense understandings of its people -- although almost all cities work to marginalise communities of colour, the ghetto remains constantly present in people's interactions: The most powerfully imagined neighborhood is the iconic black ghetto, or "the hood," often associated in the minds of outsiders with poverty, crime, and violence. This icon is by definition a figment of the imagination of those with little or no direct experience with the ghetto or contact with those who live there, and yet, when a black person navigates space outside the ghetto, those he encounters very often make reference to this residential area in order to make sense of him, although their interpretation is often erroneous. (29) What is interesting, then, are the kinds of interactions that cosmopolitan canopies make possible, and this idea of how people perform race differently depending on the space they are in: Segregated neighborhoods and the cosmopolitan canopy exist simultaneously in Philadelphia. Under the canopy, people perform race. When they present themselves as civil and friendly, they may simply coexist. On occasion, however, they may interact, learning something surprising about others they had not known before. This practice can have an affect that extends far beyond the canopy. (30) It is through the use of ethnography -- and clearly long and intimate familiarity with these spaces, that Anderson examines where such interactions are possible. Interestingly, these are enclosed spaces, destinations: Physical separation from the surrounding streetscapes and freedom of movement through the space it encloses are defining characteristics of the cosmopolitan canopy. (277) Reading terminal This is a calm environment of equivalent, symmetrical relationships -- a respite from the streets outside. (33) An enclosed, monitored version of public space: Few public spaces have an ambiance that generates such closeness and allows people to express themselves so openly. This ambiance is engendered at least in part by the physical closeness patrons experience int his space. The aisles are narrow and crowded; the dining tables are close to one another, creating a cafeteria feel, reminiscent of hundreds of high school students packed into a lunchroom. People literally rub elbows, overhear each other's conversations, and make eye contact despite any attempt at avoidance. Such physical proximity yields a familiarity, an increased comfort level, and often direct engagement among diverse patrons of the market. (57-58) This is the most successful space in creating both long term and short term encounters with the potential to be meaningful between different people. Part of this success, I think, is in changing people's perceptions in ways that have the possibility of rippling outwards through their wider lived geographies and communities. The Gallery Mall: The Ghetto downtown People here are more ethnocentric, suspicious of outsiders, especially whites. In these respects, the Gallery Mall and its food court both challenge and extend my thinking about cosmopolitan canopies. Interaction between racial groups is observable here. Patrons do find a certain comity and goodwill, but their sociability seems cramped by the ever-present awareness that ghetto street violence -- the violence commonly attributed to black ghetto streets -- may intrude at any moment. Hence there is an edge to the quality of public interaction here, an edge not so prominent in the other canopies I have described. (74) As such, the relationships formed here are less likely to have a broader impact: Many relationships formed under the canopy are one-dimensional: they exist in a specific space and do not develop further, or progress deeper, outside that setting. (88) This remains an important kind of space, however it may fall short of the conception of cosmopolitan canopies that is the subject. The Gallery is essentially a black community under a canopy, not cosmopolitan in the same way as the other canopies I've observed, but nonetheless a place where diverse elements of one racial community may mingle peacefully and express themselves more fully. (93) Rittenhouse Square Here Anderson looks at the racism often visible in the treatment of people in the upscale restaurants, the nervousness in La Colombe cafe when someone of colour without obvious class status walks in through the door, and significantly writes: Where black males seem to fit comfortably into the scheme of things at Rittenhouse Square is in the role of parking valet and doorman. (142) A telling description of US public space. Just as telling as this: But no forward movement in this long process is possible unless the races share space at close enough range to interact with one another. (148) The Color Line and the Canopy This book becomes its hardest hitting near the end, I can't help but think that this is strategic to help ease white readers into uncomfortable truths about how people of colour must constantly navigate through all spaces. A good thing, everyone should read this. The promise and real achievements of the civil rights movement have not remedied structural inequalities, and black skin color remains a powerful marker of second-class status. Norms of "color blindness" coexist with persistent patterns of discrimination, and interpersonal relations across the color line are highly charged. (152) At any point this veil of politeness can be torn, W.E.B. du Bois invoked: ... blacks can still find the color line sharply drawn at any moment. ... In the "nigger moment" the black person is effectively "put back in his place" -- a situation that many in the middle class thought they would never have to negotiate. The most problematic aspect of social relations under the cosmopolitan canopy appears when the color line is suddenly drawn... (154) It is drawn too often, and its drawing outlines the limitations of all these nice, friendly conceptions of space in ways rarely written about. In examining the places, times, and circumstances in which the color line is drawn, we learn not only about the social dynamics of racial inequality but also about the possibilities and limits of cosmopolitanism as an organizing theme of public life. (157) From these more public kind of spaces, Anderson goes on to examine the workplace as canopy. He makes a distinction between two different ways, a spectrum really, in which people navigate workspace. It is between ethnos and cosmos -- Between sticking only to your own -- making this racialised moment impossible -- or sticking to an ideal of cosmopolitanism where you are friendly but not too much so, making such a moment impersonal, not a betrayal. Just people doing what they do. But first, a sense of what this moment actually means: Emotions flood over the victim as this middle-class, cosmopolitan-oriented black person is humiliated and shown that he or she is, before anything else, a racially circumscribed black eprson after all. No matter what she has achieved, or how decent and law-abiding she is, there is no protection, no sanctuary, no escaping from this fact. She is vulnerable. (253) Interesting to me -- and not just because this is so much what I study -- is the way that much of this continues to be based upon geographies, upon segregation. Civil rights and affirmative action have certainly changed things and achieved more racial incorporation, they have changed the complexion of both workplaces and public settings. Yet the simultaneous existence of impoverished inner-city neighborhoods complicates the situation.' (254) Anderson continues: Black people continue to be associated with ghetto. 'Hence, the anonymous black person carries historical and social baggage, and thus may move somewhat self-consciously when in mixed company. Far too often, the treatment black people receive in public is based on negative assumptions, as strangers they encounter fall back on scripts, roles, and stereotypes that raise doubts about the black person's claims to decency and middle-class status. (255) More importantly, especially in thinking about a deeper transformation towards a non-racist society: Hence the "nigger moment" turns on the issue of social place. (256) He sees this as the biggest threat to the canopy, this fragile creation of relationships, these spaces that can positively challenge negative ideas of the other by supplying positive interactions. The cosmopolitan canopy as he describes it is visible in certain places, he argues: The challenge of developing a more inclusive civility that extends beyond these magical but bounded settings involves changing what transpires in neighborhoods and workplaces as well as in public. (281) In many ways Anderson is trying to grasp here what Gilroy is working towards as well through the concept of conviviality -- trying to understand what is working. And it is working. But there is so much on the other side of the equation we need to work to dismantle. Cosmopolitan canopies are both a method and a measure of our success.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This is a good book for people who are interested in urban ethnography and black/white relations in Philadelphia and, through that lens, the lived experience of race and class in many American cities. I was visiting Philly for a wedding and was interested in learning more about it, which this accomplished, but in a limited way. I was hoping to learn more about a whole range of ethnic groups and their interactions, but though others were mentioned here and there, the focus was very clearly on cau This is a good book for people who are interested in urban ethnography and black/white relations in Philadelphia and, through that lens, the lived experience of race and class in many American cities. I was visiting Philly for a wedding and was interested in learning more about it, which this accomplished, but in a limited way. I was hoping to learn more about a whole range of ethnic groups and their interactions, but though others were mentioned here and there, the focus was very clearly on caucasian and afro-american groups. There are a few places where the author even lumps the considerable puerto rican community in with 'whites'! The chapters toward the beginning of the book are the best if you'd like to go to Philly landmarks and observe city life for yourself, and the chapters toward the end of the book are best if you'd like an introduction to sociological concepts that are independent of the situation in Philadelphia.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jae Kwon

    Symbolic interactionist work on racial relations in public and private spaces. Complex yet clear analyses of black and white relations in urban America. Most notable are the author’s assessment on the way how public spaces, business establishments, and work organizations are racialized and class-based. Keen observations, insightful and intuitive explanations make this book worthwhile. While the content is decent, I would’ve liked it more had it been more organized. Reads somewhat disjointed betw Symbolic interactionist work on racial relations in public and private spaces. Complex yet clear analyses of black and white relations in urban America. Most notable are the author’s assessment on the way how public spaces, business establishments, and work organizations are racialized and class-based. Keen observations, insightful and intuitive explanations make this book worthwhile. While the content is decent, I would’ve liked it more had it been more organized. Reads somewhat disjointed between the first half of the book, which elaborates the term cosmopolitan canopy, and the second, which examines a type of canopy - workplace - by way of Weberian analysis of the cosmos and ethnos. Racial relations from black middle class men perspective with an emphasis on class. No gender analysis is offered. My first encounter with Elijah Anderson’s work. It’s interesting and useful enough that I want to check out his other contributions. Not sure if this is one of his better writings.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Qwerty88

    Well written and the author's thesis was explored across multiple contexts & situations. The discussion about microaggressions and how the person giving them is shocked when there is a reaction to such a 'little oversight' when for the person receiving them it is one of a long line of painful experiences that they need to be on guard for - that was a good reminder of how different an interaction can look when you don't understand the other person's context fully. I remember visiting Philadelphia Well written and the author's thesis was explored across multiple contexts & situations. The discussion about microaggressions and how the person giving them is shocked when there is a reaction to such a 'little oversight' when for the person receiving them it is one of a long line of painful experiences that they need to be on guard for - that was a good reminder of how different an interaction can look when you don't understand the other person's context fully. I remember visiting Philadelphia for the first time as a high school student for our annual band trip (we played at several schools), and being shocked at how crossing just one street would totally switch who you saw on the streets.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joyce del Rosario

    Great ethnography of Philadelphia. Inspired me to want to do something similar at Grand Central Market in LA. Basically, it's an ethnography that inspires more urban research. Great ethnography of Philadelphia. Inspired me to want to do something similar at Grand Central Market in LA. Basically, it's an ethnography that inspires more urban research.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Interesting look at the use of public spaces as an intersection between different demographics of people.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Signe

    I read this book for my Urban Studies and planning class: "The City and Social Theory." Never before have I read a book so accurate and detailed in its description of the "color line" in 21st century cities with large white and black populations. The phenomena Elijah Anderson observes in Philadelphia could just as easily be seen in Oakland in 2016. "Over the past forty years, as the racial incorporation process has led to the emergence of a large black middle class, the color line has begun to blu I read this book for my Urban Studies and planning class: "The City and Social Theory." Never before have I read a book so accurate and detailed in its description of the "color line" in 21st century cities with large white and black populations. The phenomena Elijah Anderson observes in Philadelphia could just as easily be seen in Oakland in 2016. "Over the past forty years, as the racial incorporation process has led to the emergence of a large black middle class, the color line has begun to blur. In some places, at some times, it seems nonexistent. Yet it can be drawn at any moment" (270). As the title of the book suggests, Anderson directs our attention to his concept of the "cosmopolitan canopy." These are places in cities where people of all different races and classes and other usually categorizations are able to come together and be civil to each other regardless of appearances that often keep them from interacting from each other in most settings. "Under the cosmopolitan canopy, city dwellers learn new ways of interacting with people they do not know who are visibly different from their own group. They become more comfortable with diversity and discover new ways that people express themselves in public" (281). This is a wonderful, thoughtful, important read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Drick

    Reading Elijah Anderson makes me (1) take notice of events around me in a closer way and (2) causes me to question what I consider to be "normal" happenings in every day life. Sharing the results of a years-long ethnographic study of certain public spaces in Philadelphia's Center City (Reading Market, The Gallery, Rittenhouse Square, 30th St. Station) Anderson describes these spaces as canopies where people of different racial and economic background interact in a civil way that can be a model f Reading Elijah Anderson makes me (1) take notice of events around me in a closer way and (2) causes me to question what I consider to be "normal" happenings in every day life. Sharing the results of a years-long ethnographic study of certain public spaces in Philadelphia's Center City (Reading Market, The Gallery, Rittenhouse Square, 30th St. Station) Anderson describes these spaces as canopies where people of different racial and economic background interact in a civil way that can be a model for all society./ At the same time he highlights the particular struggles of African American people navigating the always unclear nature of social milieus in which they find themselves.I particularly appreciated his discussion of the the "cosmos", black persons, most often middle class, who have chosen to think the best of their white colleagues and counterparts, while at the same time alway wary of experiencing a "nigger moment" when their race becomes the defining factor as to how whites around him/her perceive him/her. This book was particularly interesting as it dealt with my city of Philadelphia, and helps me appreciate more fully the nuanced and complex relationships that exist between whites and people of color in my community.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Niral

    The main thing I appreciated about this book is the author's optimism regarding a topic that is usually treated in ways that end in justifiably depressing conclusions. However, I found the author's faith in these canopies as sites for real progress in American race relations to be overstated. I don't put much stock into moments of politeness in public, even if they do cross racial lines. It's interesting because at times it seemed the author agrees, as evidenced by his insightful treatment of su The main thing I appreciated about this book is the author's optimism regarding a topic that is usually treated in ways that end in justifiably depressing conclusions. However, I found the author's faith in these canopies as sites for real progress in American race relations to be overstated. I don't put much stock into moments of politeness in public, even if they do cross racial lines. It's interesting because at times it seemed the author agrees, as evidenced by his insightful treatment of subtle forms of prejudice in workplace interactions between Blacks and Whites. Obviously, if race relations are going to improve, physical proximity and social interaction are necessary. But in their current form, I don't think the canopies he highlights can nurture the kind of meaningful interactions people would need to really foster change in their attitudes. This book also highlights the limitations of ethnography, since many of the author's conclusions are based on a limited set of anecdotes. Nevertheless, the ethnographic format is effective in bringing much of Philadelphia to life, and some of the stories (e.g., Shawn the law student) are powerful.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    It was an ok book. Since I'm gonna major in sociology, I thought this might be a good light intro into some of the things I'll be studying. And essentially it was. The only bummer for me is that I thought it was going to be a bit more, shall we say, empirical. I was hoping to see graphs and statistics to prove his point. Unfortunately the book was just a big journal on his opinions and observations of how different ethnicities interact. And that's what the author intended it to be anyway, it's e It was an ok book. Since I'm gonna major in sociology, I thought this might be a good light intro into some of the things I'll be studying. And essentially it was. The only bummer for me is that I thought it was going to be a bit more, shall we say, empirical. I was hoping to see graphs and statistics to prove his point. Unfortunately the book was just a big journal on his opinions and observations of how different ethnicities interact. And that's what the author intended it to be anyway, it's ethnography not a book on academic research. However, he focuses a lot on the current place of the African American male in modern and society. And to me this was just wonderful. Since I'm stepping out of Utah County more often now to go to college, I have the privilege to interact with people of different backgrounds, specially blacks. So this gave me some great insights as to how we sometimes stereotype people without meaning to and how to start fixing that so that racial relations can be healed. The topic of race continues to be a taboo subject in conversations, so this book did a great job at revitalizing it and being more open about the realities of our post-civil rights society.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Can't say there was anything really new to me per se in this book, but the way Anderson pulls it all together into a sociological argument caused a lot of the pieces to click together neatly in a new way. His observations of city life reflect plenty of what I've seen for myself or read in other urbanist writing. But his perspective as an ethnographer and a black man added new layers. He celebrates the multicultural city center for its civic harmony while sharply observing its limitations that ar Can't say there was anything really new to me per se in this book, but the way Anderson pulls it all together into a sociological argument caused a lot of the pieces to click together neatly in a new way. His observations of city life reflect plenty of what I've seen for myself or read in other urbanist writing. But his perspective as an ethnographer and a black man added new layers. He celebrates the multicultural city center for its civic harmony while sharply observing its limitations that aren't necessarily visible to more privileged folks. His optimistic conclusion feels like a bit of a stretch after some of the more harrowing incidents described in the last few chapters, but it reminds us how important it is to cultivate great public spaces in those rare unsegregated parts of this country.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeramey

    You would think the way people treat others of a different race is uniform across at least a neighborhood, but Anderson's research proves that isn't true. Well researched book that points out things that should be obvious, and serves as a reminder that we all should be better to one another. Having recently traveled to Philadelphia (and many of the buildings and parks he visits in the book in this book), it helped me better understand his observations. That said, the same situations play out acro You would think the way people treat others of a different race is uniform across at least a neighborhood, but Anderson's research proves that isn't true. Well researched book that points out things that should be obvious, and serves as a reminder that we all should be better to one another. Having recently traveled to Philadelphia (and many of the buildings and parks he visits in the book in this book), it helped me better understand his observations. That said, the same situations play out across the country.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    An attempt to objectively record the interactions between diverse people at different times and places in the Center City area of Philadelphia. It was a little unsettling to see the descriptions of everyday occurrences that mirror our collective experience, for example - how people make judgments based on skin color and dress. There are certainly lessons to be learned from the places where diverse people mix the most successfully.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Tatgenhorst

    I loved this book for its description of Philadelphia and its gentle way of talking about some difficult racial dynamics. It starts out slow, and may seem obvious, but it picks up steam and uses the basic categories of "cosmo" and "ethno" to describe phenomena that are always going on. We just didn't have names for the phenomena before. Brilliant book. I loved this book for its description of Philadelphia and its gentle way of talking about some difficult racial dynamics. It starts out slow, and may seem obvious, but it picks up steam and uses the basic categories of "cosmo" and "ethno" to describe phenomena that are always going on. We just didn't have names for the phenomena before. Brilliant book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I agree with all of Elijah Anderson's assertions except for one. Most African Americans do not have Native American ancestry. It's wishful thinking on the part of African Americans and Dr. Henry Louis Gates research substantiates this. However, most African Americans do have European ancestry. The last chapters neatly finished the book. I agree with all of Elijah Anderson's assertions except for one. Most African Americans do not have Native American ancestry. It's wishful thinking on the part of African Americans and Dr. Henry Louis Gates research substantiates this. However, most African Americans do have European ancestry. The last chapters neatly finished the book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Compassionate sociology--not two words I have ever put together before, but this book deserves them. The moment-by-moment accounts of how and where strangers meet in cities are like retakes of our own experiences as "participant observers" and "observing participants" and (in the phrase the author borrows from Baudelaire) "passionate spectators." Compassionate sociology--not two words I have ever put together before, but this book deserves them. The moment-by-moment accounts of how and where strangers meet in cities are like retakes of our own experiences as "participant observers" and "observing participants" and (in the phrase the author borrows from Baudelaire) "passionate spectators."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    A really great read! It truly captured race within Philadelphia in such an intriguing way. By using folk ethnography techniques, it truly reveals how those who experience the situations in life feel. I highly recommend!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Pahr

    If you sat in a public park for 20 minutes with your eyes open, you'd probably have more interesting thoughts about race in public places than those contained in this book. I'm not going to write off the entire field of ethnography based on this one book, but.....it's on notice. If you sat in a public park for 20 minutes with your eyes open, you'd probably have more interesting thoughts about race in public places than those contained in this book. I'm not going to write off the entire field of ethnography based on this one book, but.....it's on notice.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kimmy

    Definitely worth a read, very insightful and well written.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maija

    Not sure if I'll finish this one, I didn't realize that it was exclusively about Philadelphia. Not sure if I'll finish this one, I didn't realize that it was exclusively about Philadelphia.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emma Ling

  24. 4 out of 5

    Breanna Lineman

  25. 4 out of 5

    Demitria

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee

  28. 4 out of 5

    Whit

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elise

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

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