Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race

STATE OF THE DISCOURSE

CRIME, URBAN POVERTY, AND SOCIAL SCIENCE

Lawrence D. Boboa1 c1

a1 Department of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Todd R. Clear, Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 255 pages, ISBN: 978-0-19-538720-9. Paper, $21.95.

Sudhir Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. 303 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59420-150-9. Cloth, $25.95.

In recent years, sociologists have conducted enormously important research on the intersection of urban poverty, crime, and the racial divide. Quantitative stratification sociologist Bruce Western provides a meticulous tracing of the emergence of mass incarceration, tracking its steady development and identifying how and why—both economically and politically—this trend has fallen so heavily on low-income Black communities (Western 2006). Quantitative stratification sociologist Devah Pager carries out remarkably innovative and compelling field experiments showing the terrible toll incarceration takes on the employment prospects and, therefore, the greater life chances of former felons, particularly those who are Black (Pager 2007). And the combined efforts of quantitative criminologist Chris Uggen and quantitative political sociologist Jeff Manza reveal the extraordinary distortion of our local and national politics that results from the practice of felon disfranchisement (Manza and Uggen, 2006).

Correspondence:

c1 Professor Lawrence D. Bobo, Department of Sociology, William James Hall, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail: bobo@wjh.harvard.edu

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