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THE PHILADELPHIA NEGRO AND THE CANON OF CLASSICAL URBAN THEORY

  • Kevin Loughran (a1)
Abstract

This paper outlines the urban theory of W. E. B. Du Bois as presented in the classic sociological text The Philadelphia Negro. I argue that Du Bois’s urban theory, which focused on how the socially-constructed racial hierarchy of the United States was shaping the material conditions of industrial cities, prefigured important later work and offered a sociologically richer understanding of urban processes than the canonized classical urban theorists—Weber, Simmel, and Park. I focus on two key areas of Du Bois’s urban theory: (1) racial stratification as a fundamental feature of the modern city and (2) urbanization and urban migration. While The Philadelphia Negro has gained recent praise for Du Bois’s methodological achievements, I use extensive passages from the work to demonstrate the theoretical importance of The Philadelphia Negro and to argue that this groundbreaking work should be considered canonical urban theory.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Kevin Loughran, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, 1810 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL, 60208. E-mail: k.loughran@u.northwestern.edu
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Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
  • ISSN: 1742-058X
  • EISSN: 1742-0598
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