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Stuck in Place

Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality

In the 1960s, many believed that the civil rights movement’s successes would foster a new era of racial equality in America. Four decades later, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, Patrick Sharkey argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades. In Stuck in Place, Sharkey describes how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system.

As a result, neighborhood inequality that existed in the 1970s has been passed down to the current generation of African Americans. Some of the most persistent forms of racial inequality, such as gaps in income and test scores, can only be explained by considering the neighborhoods in which black and white families have lived over multiple generations. This multigenerational nature of neighborhood inequality also means that a new kind of urban policy is necessary for our nation’s cities. Sharkey argues for urban policies that have the potential to create transformative and sustained changes in urban communities and the families that live within them, and he outlines a durable urban policy agenda to move in that direction.

264 pages | 12 maps, 26 figures, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Sociology: Race, Ethnic, and Minority Relations, Social Organization--Stratification, Mobility, Urban and Rural Sociology


"Sharkey’s book is magnificent scholarship."

American Prospect

"Patrick Sharkey’s Stuck in Place is one of those rare books that will become a standard reference for students and scholars of inequality. Examining longitudinal data over a period of four decades, Sharkey provides compelling arguments on how inequality clustered in a social setting can be addressed with a durable urban policy agenda. This important and incredibly perceptive book is a must-read."

William Julius Wilson | author of The Truly Disadvantaged and The Declining Significance of Race

"Stuck in Place is a powerful analysis of how neighborhoods are implicated in perpetuating severe stratification between blacks and whites across generations. Patrick Sharkey’s robust findings are sobering and disturbing—even for experts in the field—and leave no room for debate about the need for massive investment in America’s poorest neighborhoods. Like The Truly Disadvantaged and American Apartheid before it, this book will be impossible to ignore and will set the agenda for decades to come."

Mary Pattillo | author of Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City

"Patrick Sharkey’s comprehensive and compelling analysis clearly explains how segregation, by concentrating disadvantage in black neighborhoods, continues to divide US society into divergent black and white social worlds that remain truly separate and unequal, decades after the Civil Rights Era. His work eloquently reminds us that a segregated society can never be a just society, and that segregation remains at the core the American dilemma, even in the Age of Obama."

Douglas S. Massey | coauthor of American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass

Table of Contents


1 Introduction
2 The Inheritance of the Ghetto
3 A Forty-Year Detour on the Path toward Racial Equality
4 Neighborhoods and the Transmission of Racial Inequality
5 The Cross-Generational Legacy of Urban Disadvantage
6 Confronting the Inherited Ghetto: An Empirical Perspective
7 Toward a Durable Urban Policy Agenda



Eastern Sociological Society: Mirra Komarovsky Book Award

American Sociological Association: Otis Dudley Duncan Award

Association of American Publishers: PROSE Book Award

ASA Community and Urban Sociology Section: Robert E. Park Award

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