SOC 101 – Introduction to Sociology
Urbanization and Race in America
Race in America is one of those subjects that scholars rarely broach and are heavily criticized for these omissions by their constituents. For this reason, the subject of race and urbanization felt a proper choice for this final paper. Following, we will incorporate data from multiple sources including Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, a novel that examines the harrowing trials of different groups in Afghanistan and what happens to the ones lucky enough to escape the violence of their homeland into the safety net of American soil; in an attempt to show the inalienable link between race and urbanization. This discussion on urbanization and race in American will also include a brief discussion on classism. Classism is a part of the structural organization of society that can be measured as part of the contributing factors to the socioeconomic divisiveness experienced in this urbanized world. Some argue that gentrification, in all of its wonders is class based. Others argue it more a matter of ethnicity and race, both may be correct. Nevertheless, the issue of race, as aforementioned should be granted a closer look. By examining the ideas and experiences of anthropologists and sociologists past and present this paper will attempt to specify on how classism, racism, and urbanization are connected.
Growing Cities and Ghettos
The Industrial Revolution sparked an enormous wave of migrants and immigrants into American cities creating an urban ecology. Chapter 3 of the Giddens et. al. text, describes the social movement from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft; from a community based ideology in society to a more individualized world. Afghanistan is an agriculturally based society. Urbanization is a global process that draws people away from rural areas and into the cities. Once in those cities, people tend to gravitate to areas that are inhabited by people of their same cultural fabric. In discussing theories of urbanization, gentrification and displacement, John Bentacur (2010) in Gentrification and Community Fabric in Chicago points out how people are drawn to areas that have a cultural/ethnic connectivity, “immigrants with different characteristics compete for space until they get accommodated with alike others in locations that correspond to their competitive strengths” (p 384). In the novel, The Kite Runner, Amir and his father make the arduous migration from Kabul, Afghanistan to Fremont, California. Their low income neighborhood of Fremont is ethnically diverse but with a notable concentration of Afghani residents. It makes sense that when people leave their countries of origin to settle in a new place, they will be drawn to people and areas that are familiar to them. Even with familiarity problems arise, urban studies reveal several difficulties that plague densely populated urban neighborhoods; poverty, crime and dilapidated conditions to name a few. In Afghanistan Baba, Amir’s father, was rich and even wielded some power for being a respected business man and serving the community by creating an orphanage that would later be destroyed by the Taliban regime. In America, there would be no such accolades to speak of for their family. In fact, they would live in a type of poverty, they had never experienced nor hardly imagined. They would experience the existence that many black Americans face with no end in sight. A growing world population combined with globalization and the heightened mobility that comes with it has led to the creation of cities and a scramble for affordable housing. Gentrification also known as ‘urban regeneration’ or ‘re-urbanization’ is the process that happens in a community when it becomes urbanized and consists of the higher income families moving into lower income areas. During this process demographic changes are notable; in America, gentrification is notably marked by white...
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