The Ghetto’s Complex and Troubled Legacy

Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea

In 2017, we often hear the word “ghetto” come up in music lyrics and casual conversation, out of the mouths of politicians and activists. We know what it means; it needs no explanation. Yet beyond its negative connotations lie 500 years of rich—and relevant—history. Princeton University sociologist Mitchell Duneier, winner of the seventh annual Zócalo Book Prize for Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea, visits Zócalo to examine why the ghetto endures and what it means to us today. Below is the preface from his …

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How Solving the Mystery of a Classic French Novel Could Curb Police Violence

A Sociologist Finds Clues in Camus’s The Stranger That Tension Triggers Excess Force

Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger contains one of the most famous acts of violence in all literature. A man kills someone he doesn’t know, without immediate provocation, in broad daylight. …

You Never Get One Isolated Great Thinker at a Time

Sociologist Randall Collins on Creativity Clusters and the Importance of Good Questions

Randall Collins’ curiosity about where ideas come from led him to do 25 years of research on the networks that connected thinkers and ideas through history and across continents. Collins, …

What Atheists and Monks Have in Common

The Secular World Is Just as “Imagined” as Any Religious Faith

It’s hard for me to think of a philosopher more important for my work than Charles Taylor. I’m a sociologist, and while most people don’t think of sociology as an …

Your Toddler May Soon Be Fat Again

We Have No Clue Why Childhood Obesity Rates Plummeted—Or Why They Rose in the First Place

Late last month, a New York Times headline announced: “Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade.” The story, pegged to a study published by researchers at the …

Sociologist and Photographer Camilo José Vergara

New York Belongs to Me, and I Belong to New York

Camilo José Vergara is a New York-based sociologist and photographer who photographs the same urban locations over time to document changing communities. Before participating in a panel on how people …