Liveblog of Patrick Sharkey's presentation to the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series at Harvard on September 23, 2013.
Patrick Sharkey is an associate professor of sociology at New York University and affiliate of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. His research looks at stratification and mobility with a specialized interest in neighborhoods and cities, and he is the author of the recently published book Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality.
His talk entitled "Where, when, why, and for whom do neighborhoods matter?" was based on a just completed review paper, co-authored with Jacob Faber, updating the literature on neighborhood effects (specifically the research looking at cognitive / developmental outcomes), looking at how this literature has been interpreted and evaluated over time, and proposing what is or should be the future of this work.
Sharkey focused on three examples from his own research that suggest ways in which the literature can get beyond what has been long-term hangup in the field in terms of ignoring various contextual factors and nuance in order to answer the question, "do neighborhoods matter?" I found that his insights offered a helpful critique not only to his own sociological subdiscipline but for social scientific research in general, pushing us to never blindly disregard the particular for the universal or play into dominant research narratives.