Race, Class and Social Control in the Streets

Conley, D. & Ryvicker, M.
Sociological Forum. 2001, Vol. 16(4), pp. 759-772.

Jane Jacobs has recently become the most popular, pop sociologist around. There has been a spiked resurgence of media interest in her 1961 urban studies classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. This may be due partly to the recent release of her new book, The Nature of Economies. But there is probably something more to it. For journalists, Jacobs' account of the neighborhood life of New York City's Greenwich Village of the 1950s seems to induce nostalgic longings for a greater sense of community. The bustling, narrow streets Jacobs describes were filled with both small shops and tenement residences, with hoards of pedestrians engaged in both business and sociability, and with strangers and lifelong inhabitants alike. This apparent chaos was actually a ballet of multitudes and Jacobs uncovered the latent order that undergirded the community.