The New Chicago School
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The New Chicago School--

Not New York or LA,

and Why It Matters for Urban Social Science

Terry Nichols Clark*


Michael Dear et al’s "LA School" builds on a critique of the old Chicago school. This paper extends the discussion by incorporating broader theories about how cities work, stressing culture and politics. New Yorkers lean toward class analysis, production, inequality, dual labor markets, and related themes--deriving for some from a secular Marxism. LA writers are more often individualist, subjectivist, consumption-oriented; some are also postmodernist. Chicago is the largest American city with a heavily Catholic population, which heightens attention to personal relations, extended families, neighborhoods, and ethnic traditions. These in turn lead observers to stress culture and politics in Chicago, as these vary so heavily by subculture.

The paper outlines seven axial points for a New Chicago School.

*The University of Chicago. Please send comments to:

On the FAUI Project: Earlier versions were presented to American Political Science Association, Chicago, September 3, 2004, the Chicago Extravaganza, July 7, 2004, Preconference to City Futures, and to a dozen urban analysts of Chicago who have met for several years and offered a joint course in Spring 2005,