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The Sight of Loss

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Abstract:  The narrative of the “fall”—an account by urban residents about a decline in the morality and aesthetics of their surroundings—is common in US urban studies. Researchers typically explain the “fall” as an outcome of post‐Fordist changes in urban resources, neglecting to explore the social construction of this sense of things. Analyzing the oral histories of people who were born in Detroit from the 1920s to the 1970s, the author considers three explanations for the persistence of this narrative: constant urban decline, a moralizing hegemony or doxa, and a clash between objective structures and embodied histories over the life course. This line of inquiry is relevant to concerns about the impact of structural crises on social consciousness, and it is of particular significance to the theorization of the politics of place in post‐Fordist cities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA;

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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