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Urban Dynamics (SOC 0861)

A Guide to Resources

Professor Anne Shlay

Professor Anne B. Shlay  Gladfelter Hall, 755  215-204-7931

Office Hours: 11:00-12:15, 2-2:30  Tues/Thurs or by appointment

Urban Dynamics

SOC 0861 Section 001 

Spring, 2010, Tues/Thur: 12:30-1:50

Location: Anderson 5

Course Description


This course is about the ways in which housing plays a key role in determining the quality of people’s lives and opportunities within metropolitan areas. It is also about the policies that impact housing, and the efforts being made to improve the quality of housing in our city. 

In this course, we will: 

  • Introduce topics of urban structure, housing market dynamics, and housing inequality
  • Learn about major fault lines in the provision of urban housing
  • Look at the structuring of inequality in urban life through the lens of housing. 
  • Learn about different organizations working in areas of housing inequality
  • Develop analytical tools for evaluating policy solutions to problems of providing adequate housing


Housing affects all people in many ways and is a vital source of family economic and social well-being.  Its location permits or denies access to resources such as employment, recreation, education, safety and community, and is a key factor in socio-economic mobility.  Housing greatly affects personal finances; it can be a source of wealth creation and savings or, conversely, it can be an impediment to acquiring even the bare necessities of daily life.  It can offer a safe place to enjoy and nourish family life or an ongoing source of friction and discomfort.  It can support or hinder child rearing and development.  Housing has ripple effects that penetrate deeply into every family’s social and economic situation and plans for the future. 

Despite the centrality of housing in people’s lives, U.S. housing policy, particularly for low income families, is piecemeal and ineffective.  Most of it is directed at the affluent in the form of incentives for homeownership. The provision of rental housing for the acutely poor is left mostly to the vagaries of the market, with public funding virtually non-existent. Public housing units are sparse, and funds for homeless shelters are meager at best. 

Inadequate public support for affordable rental housing underscores the importance of local non-public organizations that are working to increase the availability of rental housing of reasonable quality.  It also underscores the importance of Obama’s stimulus package, which among many things specifically targets money for rapid housing and re-housing of homeless people ,as well as homelessness prevention.  It also makes it more important that public agencies involved in low income housing be well scrutinized.

This course, Urban Dynamics, is a US society Gen/Ed course and as such is geared to develop your understanding of the history, society, culture and political systems of the U.S. Gen/Ed US Society courses are geared to enhance the following skills: 

  • Critical thinking
  • Information literacy
  • Ability to examine historical events through a variety of interdisciplinary diciplines
  • Understanding of historical and contemporary issues
  • Engagement, both locally and glbally, in the issues of the day


There are two books required for this class. The following required books are available at the Temple University bookstore.  

 A Right to Housing: Foundation for a New Social Agenda.  2006  Rachel G. Bratt, Michael E. Stone, and Chester Hartman (Eds.).  Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Housing Policy in the U.S.: An Introduction.  2006.  Alex F. Schwartz.  New York, NY: Routledge.

Subject Specialist

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Rick Lezenby
Charles Library