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Ethnographic journalism and the American urban crisis

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posted on 2021-05-24, 09:46 authored by Juan Miguel de Villa
The historical role of racial prejudice in the development of black ghettos by the I990s has been a source of contention in urban studies. This paper contends that works of ethnographic journalism such as Alex Kotlowitz's There are no Children Here, David Simon and Ed Bums's The Corner, and Leon Dash's Rosa Lee are critical texts for gaining an informed understanding of the urban crisis because they allow one to make connections with both the empirically observable facts and the shared social experience of the black underclass. By revealing the importance of viewing positivist and interpretivist understandings of the American city as complementary rather than oppositional, these works provide a multifaceted, rather than mutually exclusive, framework for understanding the American urban crisis. This approach allows us to avoid the ontological shortcomings present in traditional methodologies for examining urban poverty-shortcomings that take root in discursive tensions regarding the nature of prejudice in municipal development. Ethnographic journalism evokes the empathy necessary to view urban squalor as a practical concern rather than a spectacle.



Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type