Community Studies: Work, Family, Education, and Religion                                                                American Mosaic 2001 - Prof. Rose


Community Studies is an applied sociology course that introduces students to the methods of ethnography through a series of case studies and empirical research. Drawing upon classic ethnographies of other towns and places, we will begin investigating our own communities and those of Steelton, PA. How do people make a living, raise a family, educate children, and sustain faith in small town America at the beginning of the twenty-first century? How has the evolution of Steelton from an industrial steel mill town to one hit hard by de-industrialization affected the town, the mill, the union, labor-management relations, school taxes, cultural and social life? How has it affected  people=s lives and livelihoods? Using a life course perspective, we will examine the changes and continuities across the generations, exploring what inheritances have been passed on, and what new social relations, technologies, and social organizations have been created or recreated.


With a theoretical and methodological focus on community and life course studies, we will explore how individual, social, and historical time and conditions interact and shape people=s life choices and chances in terms of: work, sleep, health, longevity, fertility, family formation and dissolution, religious belief and practice, leisure. How were 4 years olds brought up in various eras? What was life like for an 18 year old coming of age in Steelton in the 1920s, the 1950s, 2001? How was it similar or different for their parents if they were Irish-, German-, Croatian- Serbian, Mexican-or African-American? How stratified were jobs and neighborhoods by race, ethnicity, nationality, class, and gender? And what difference did it/does it make in terms of how much one is paid, when one works, how long one works, where one works - how dangerous or self-directed the job may be? How does it affect one=s relationships with neighbors, who one marries, how old one is likely to be at first marriage, whether one=s children are likely to work in the mills or as domestic servants or in the cigar factory? How does it affect what one eats? Where one sleeps? Whether and where one takes vacations?  And ultimately, where and how one is buried and remembered?  


These and many more questions that emerge from students= interests and fieldwork will be explored as we now, five years later, return to Steelton to continue our collaboration with the community. Using a grounded theory approach, we will begin by reading transcripts of oral histories initially collected as part of the first American Mosaic in Steelton in 1996. This will enable us to familiarize ourselves both with individual life stories and community narratives, to begin a comparative analysis across interviews, and design our own research projects . Simultaneously, we will be reading literature on ethnography, work, family, steel and company towns, the interacting systems of race, class, and gender, etc, and begin to develop our own interview protocols. Throughout the semester, we will be moving back and forth between reading the literature (non-fiction, memoirs, and fiction), conducting empirical research, and writing our own analyses.







Agar, The Professional Stranger

Bell, Out of This Furnace: A Novel of Immigrant Labor in America

Bodnar, Steelton

Fulop and Raboteau, African-American Religion: Interpretive Essays in History and Culture

Kelley, Race Rebels.

Liebow, Tally=s Corner.

Lynds, Middletown

Hamper, Rivethead

Mills, The Sociological Imagination

??Simon, David. The Corner,

Slim and Thompson, Listening for a Change.

Labor?? Zinn?? Ethnograpy of a Strike?? - ask Chuck to go w/his lecture

Wallace, Rockdale




AEven the Heavens Weep@

AThe Language You Cry In@

AWe Shall Overcome@

AHomestead@ - with photographs - here or in R&R?- Modell, Frisch, web sites/assignm

ARoger and Me@

AThe Corner@ if it=s out & NYT piece on Simon and Film producer - Studies in Race in America

AHoop Dreams@

AStruggles in Steel@ - African-American Steelworkers



Reference Books on Reserve in the Community Studies Center


Shopes, The Baltimore Book.

R&R Thompson, Voices of the Past

R&R Portelli...

Torres, Diss on Patagonia Company Towns (and lecture - re: company towns)


On Reserve in the Library

FoxFire Collection



Excerpts and articles on E-Journal

Thompson, Voices or the Past

All Souls


Clayton Carelock

Liz Hrenda-Roberts


Week 1:           Intro -

Begin reading/browsing through Bodnar, Steelton


Week 2:          

1/30 Tu            Oral Histories from Steelton - Workshop (Smart classroom or CSC?)

A) Some of what we know

E-Reserves:: Read one of the transcripts on electronic reserves or in the CSC archives:

Clayton & Charles Carelock


B) Take clear notes, highlighting important, interesting Adata@ and post

C) Read through one or two more transcripts.

What more we want to know....?

D) Pick one of the transcripts and indicate 2-3 things (dates, events, processes, figures...) that you would want to follow up on and learn more about.

E) Does Bodnar have anything useful to reveal here re: the community context in relation to the individual narratives you=ve been reading?


1/31 W                        Town Tour of Steelton

                        Begin your fieldnote journal with your impressions and a one-page thick description of the Steelton


2/1  Th             Sociological Imagination

Read: C. Wright Mills

Middletown – Select one area (work, religion, schooling… and be ready to report on what the Lynds found and the methods they used)

Discussion of Transcript Postings - Life Course Contexts

One Page Thick Desctiption: ASteelton@

E-Reserves Excerpts: Liebow=s Tally=s Corner

                                      God of Small Things: pp:1-3...?

Week 3


2/4 Su              Church Service in Steelton (9-2) Meet with Barbara Barksdale, Clayton Carelock,

Cemetery Tour (depending on weather)

Assignment for next Tuesday: Write a 2-3 page thick description of the church service you attended.


Tu                    AReading@ and AWriting@ Religion

Bring two copies of your thick descriptions of the church service you attended to class.

Handout: Studying Religion

Middletown, intro and Ch on Religion


We                   Free


Th                    AWe Shall Overcome@ Video Doc

Go Tell It??? when are we showing it?

Read in Fulop and Raboteau:

                                      Long, APerspectives for a Study of African-American Religion@ 21-

  Raboteau, ABlack Experience in American Evangelicalism@ 89-

  Gravely, AThe Rise of African American Churches in America@ 135                               E-Reserves: Millhands and Preachers


Week 4

Tu                    Diaspora and Community Building

Africanisms in America: Change and Continuity

Making Music and Doing Ethnography 

AThe Language We Cry In@ Video Doc

Read: in Fulop and Raboteau:

Levine, ASlave Songs and Slave Consciousness@ 57-                            

??Kelley AWe are Not What We Seem: Pleasures and Politics of Community@


Labor Conditions and Relations


Th                    Using Race and Ethnicity in Labor Relations - Multi-Ethnic Coal Mining Towns

AEven the Heavens Weep@ Video Doc

Methods: Documenting History through artifacts, oral histories, music, and video

Read: in Kelley xi-34 AShiftless of the World Unite@


Week 5           

Tu                    Company Towns 

Prof. Torres, National University of Patagonia AEthnic and Labor Relations in Company Towns: A Comparative Perspective@

Read: Prof. Torres Dissertation is on reserve in CSC archives

Transcripts - references to Company Towns


We                   Bethlehem Tour


Th                    Steelton,

Read: Bodnar              

          Bell, Out of This Furnace


Week 6            (Kim=s class is over and our oral history workshops begin here too)


Tu                    Struggles in Steel - Chuck Barone - lecture

Read: Transcripts - African-American Steelworker OH from Steelton


Kelley?Zinn? Something good on labor history


Th                    AStruggles in Steel: African-American Steelworkers@ Video Doc           


Week 7            Rivethead

Roger and Me 




Starting Week 6-7 Shift to Rogers and Rose – Doing Oral History and Ethnography


Yow, Recording Oral History

Agar, Professional Stranger

Thompson, Voices Excerpts

Middletown, Ch On Making a Living and Raising a Family

Proposals Due + Oral History Interview Schedules                       

Begin Oral History Interviews