LA 359 Social Science Dissimilar Neighborhoods Shanghai & Xintiandi Case Study

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Cities are never locations of singular socioeconomic people and activities; they are immensely diverse and are made of numerous districts and neighborhoods, and each has distinguishing characteristics that makes it exceptional. These attributes and peculiarities—the types of people who live in the area, the economy or primary purpose of the district, the physical design, the upkeep, etc.—are all symbols that require anyone within them (including the researcher) to interpret and respond to while interacting with the social and physical environment. Human conduct diverges from place to place, depending on a multitude of determinants like cultural upbringing, socioeconomic class, level of education and lifestyle. These factors also result in each individual having a unique mentally constructed view of the world, affecting the way they interpret the social and physical symbols encountered during day to day life.

City Street

Just about every city neighborhood (or downtown area in smaller towns) contains physical evidence of its past, such as old buildings, historical monuments or even graveyards, and these artifacts offer a glimpse of what the place once was in another era. Since cities— their function and the people who live within them—constantly evolve, these timeworn relics, in some way, link the past to the present. Your investigation into two disparate neighborhoods and the people within them is a sociological and historical undertaking to observe and compare the differences of each. The focus of this study is primarily based upon symbols—the attributes of people and the physical environment—and how those symbols affect social interaction. The structure of this exercise is based upon answering the set of sociological guiding questions that were provided to you in the form of an outline.

Following the Outline and Addressing the Sociological Guiding Questions

Here is the outline with the sociological guiding questions:

Introduction: Which two distinctive neighborhoods are you going to analyze for this project, and why did you select them (what are you hoping to learn more about)? What research methods will be used for this investigation?

Research: What is the general history of these two neighborhoods and what are their primary functions today? What are the broad demographics of these neighborhoods and how have they altered over the years? What are one or two noticeable historical artifacts in each locality, connecting the past to the present, that reveal change and/or continuity over time?

Fieldwork: What recognizable symbols (both human and environmental) define these two areas, and how might they influence the way people interact with each other and their surroundings? What are some perceived background factors among local inhabitants and visitors (such as culture, income level , age, education, etc.) in each district, and how might they affect social interactions?

Analysis: What are three sociological theories covered during the second half of the semester that can be applied to your neighborhood investigations? Explain each theory as it pertains to your fieldwork observations and background research findings. (A bank of class terms and theories has been provided in Module 13.)

Conclusion: After completing fieldwork observations, background research, and analysis, what is a brief summary of your overall discoveries (what significant information did you learn)?

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