Urban Nightlife: Entertaining Race, Class, and Culture in Public Space

Rutgers University Press
Free sample

Sociologists have long been curious about the ways in which city dwellers negotiate urban public space. How do they manage myriad interactions in the shared spaces of the city? In Urban Nightlife, sociologist Reuben May undertakes a nuanced examination of urban nightlife, drawing on ethnographic data gathered in a Deep South college town to explore the question of how nighttime revelers negotiate urban public spaces as they go about meeting, socializing, and entertaining themselves. 

 May’s work reveals how diverse partiers define these spaces, in particular the ongoing social conflict on the streets, in bars and nightclubs, and in the various public spaces of downtown. To explore this conflict, May develops the concept of “integrated segregation”—the idea that diverse groups are physically close to one another yet rarely have meaningful interactions—rather, they are socially bound to those of similar race, class, and cultural backgrounds. May’s in-depth research leads him to conclude that social tension is stubbornly persistent in part because many participants fail to make the connection between contemporary relations among different groups and the historical and institutional forces that perpetuate those very tensions; structural racism remains obscured by a superficial appearance of racial harmony.
  Through May’s observations, Urban Nightlife clarifies the complexities of race, class, and culture in contemporary America, illustrating the direct influence of local government and nightclub management decision-making on interpersonal interaction among groups. 
Watch a video with Reuben A. Buford May:

Watch video now. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCs1xExStPw).
Read more

About the author

REUBEN A. BUFORD MAY is a professor of sociology at Texas A & M University and a fellow at Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. He is the author of Living Through the Hoop: High School Basketball, Race and the American Dream
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rutgers University Press
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Published on
Sep 2, 2014
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780813569406
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Visit the author's YouTube channel!

When high school basketball player LeBron James was selected as the top pick in the National Basketball Association draft of 2003, the hopes of a half-million high school basketball players soared. If LeBron could go straight from high school to the NBA, why couldn’t they? Such is the allure of basketball for so many young African American men. Unfortunately, the reality is that their chances of ever playing basketball at the professional, or even college, level are infinitesimal. In Living Through the Hoop, Reuben A. Buford May tells the absorbing story of the hopes and struggles of one high school basketball team.

With a clear passion for the game, May grabs readers with both hands and pulls them onto the hardwood, going under the hoop and inside the locker room. May spent seven seasons as an assistant coach of the Northeast High School Knights in Northeast, Georgia. We meet players like Larique and Pooty Cat, hard-working and energetic young men, willing to play and practice basketball seven days a week and banking on the unlimited promise of the game. And we meet Coach Benson, their unorthodox, out-spoken, and fierce leader, who regularly coached them to winning seasons, twice going to the state tournaments Elite Eight championships.

Beyond the wins and losses, May provides a portrait of the players’ hopes and aspirations, their home lives, and the difficulties they face in living in a poor and urban area — namely, the temptations of drugs and alcohol, violence in their communities, run-ins with the police, and unstable family lives. We learn what it means to become a man when you live in places that define manhood by how tough you can be, how many women you can have, and how much money you can hustle.

May shows the powerful role that the basketball team can play in keeping these kids straight, away from street-life, focused on completing high school, and possibly even attending college. Their stories, and the double-edged sword of hoop dreams, is at the heart of this compelling story about young African American men’s struggle to find their way in an often grim world.

In The Devil in the White City, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

To find out more about this book, go to http://www.DevilInTheWhiteCity.com.
WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE GENERAL NON-FICTION 

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
 
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe •  The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg •  Esquire • Buzzfeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch •  Politico •  The Week • Bookpage • Kirkus Reviews •  Amazon •  Barnes and Noble Review •  Apple •  Library Journal • Chicago Public Library • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
A New York Times Bestseller

Foreword by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics

When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty--and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT--two young and ambitious men a universe apart.

"Riveting."--The New York Times

"Compelling... dramatic... Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand."--Newsweek

"An eye-opening account into an underserved city within the city."--Chicago Tribune

"The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart."--The Boston Globe

"A rich portrait of the urban poor, drawn not from statistics but from viivd tales of their lives and his, and how they intertwined."--The Economist

"A sensative, sympathetic, unpatronizing portrayal of lives that are ususally ignored or lumped into ill-defined stereotype."--Finanical Times

Sudhir Venkatesh’s latest book Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy--a memoir of sociological investigation revealing the true face of America’s most diverse city--was published in September 2013 by Penguin Press


 

 




From the Trade Paperback edition.
Sociologists have long been curious about the ways in which city dwellers negotiate urban public space. How do they manage myriad interactions in the shared spaces of the city? In Urban Nightlife, sociologist Reuben May undertakes a nuanced examination of urban nightlife, drawing on ethnographic data gathered in a Deep South college town to explore the question of how nighttime revelers negotiate urban public spaces as they go about meeting, socializing, and entertaining themselves. 

 May’s work reveals how diverse partiers define these spaces, in particular the ongoing social conflict on the streets, in bars and nightclubs, and in the various public spaces of downtown. To explore this conflict, May develops the concept of “integrated segregation”—the idea that diverse groups are physically close to one another yet rarely have meaningful interactions—rather, they are socially bound to those of similar race, class, and cultural backgrounds. May’s in-depth research leads him to conclude that social tension is stubbornly persistent in part because many participants fail to make the connection between contemporary relations among different groups and the historical and institutional forces that perpetuate those very tensions; structural racism remains obscured by a superficial appearance of racial harmony.
  Through May’s observations, Urban Nightlife clarifies the complexities of race, class, and culture in contemporary America, illustrating the direct influence of local government and nightclub management decision-making on interpersonal interaction among groups. 
Watch a video with Reuben A. Buford May:

Watch video now. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCs1xExStPw).
Visit the author's YouTube channel!

When high school basketball player LeBron James was selected as the top pick in the National Basketball Association draft of 2003, the hopes of a half-million high school basketball players soared. If LeBron could go straight from high school to the NBA, why couldn’t they? Such is the allure of basketball for so many young African American men. Unfortunately, the reality is that their chances of ever playing basketball at the professional, or even college, level are infinitesimal. In Living Through the Hoop, Reuben A. Buford May tells the absorbing story of the hopes and struggles of one high school basketball team.

With a clear passion for the game, May grabs readers with both hands and pulls them onto the hardwood, going under the hoop and inside the locker room. May spent seven seasons as an assistant coach of the Northeast High School Knights in Northeast, Georgia. We meet players like Larique and Pooty Cat, hard-working and energetic young men, willing to play and practice basketball seven days a week and banking on the unlimited promise of the game. And we meet Coach Benson, their unorthodox, out-spoken, and fierce leader, who regularly coached them to winning seasons, twice going to the state tournaments Elite Eight championships.

Beyond the wins and losses, May provides a portrait of the players’ hopes and aspirations, their home lives, and the difficulties they face in living in a poor and urban area — namely, the temptations of drugs and alcohol, violence in their communities, run-ins with the police, and unstable family lives. We learn what it means to become a man when you live in places that define manhood by how tough you can be, how many women you can have, and how much money you can hustle.

May shows the powerful role that the basketball team can play in keeping these kids straight, away from street-life, focused on completing high school, and possibly even attending college. Their stories, and the double-edged sword of hoop dreams, is at the heart of this compelling story about young African American men’s struggle to find their way in an often grim world.

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