Inequalities, democracy, and fieldwork in the Chicago schools of yesterday and today

Ruth Horowitz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Barriers to public discourse and participation in a democracy were central to the social reform concerns of Mead. Urban ethnographies of the last thirty years that are associated with the University of Chicago and the Chicago School contribute to this aspect of Mead's work. These ethnographies help to illuminate how extreme poverty and racism affect public discourse between groups. The Chicago tradition linked to the work of Park and Wirth has emphasized the importance of persistent inequalities and a lack of public discourse and participation rather than a symbolic interactionist approach that emphasizes the ability of people to create a place for themselves in an open, fluid world. Through field research in poor, often minority urban communities, the sociologists linked more closely to the former group have explored issues of the maintenance of patterns of extreme inequalities, the muting of public dialogue, and blockages to participation while maintaining a focus on the agency of the poor and their efforts to create their social worlds.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)481-504
    Number of pages24
    JournalSymbolic Interaction
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2001

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Nursing
    • Social Psychology
    • Education
    • Communication
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • General Social Sciences


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