Boston Renaissance, The

Boston Renaissance, The: Race, Space, and Economic Change in an American Metropolis

Barry Bluestone
Mary Huff Stevenson
Michael Massagli
Philip Moss
Chris Tilly
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 476
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610440714
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    Boston Renaissance, The
    Book Description:

    This volume documents metropolitan Boston's metamorphosis from a casualty of manufacturing decline in the 1970s to a paragon of the high-tech and service industries in the 1990s. The city's rebound has been part of a wider regional renaissance, as new commercial centers have sprung up outside the city limits. A stream of immigrants have flowed into the area, redrawing the map of ethnic relations in the city. While Boston's vaunted mind-based economy rewards the highly educated, many unskilled workers have also found opportunities servicing the city's growing health and education industries.

    Boston's renaissance remains uneven, and the authors identify a variety of handicaps (low education, unstable employment, single parenthood) that still hold minorities back. Nonetheless this book presents Boston as a hopeful example of how America's older cities can reinvent themselves in the wake of suburbanization and deindustrialization.

    A Volume in the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-071-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Barry Bluestone and Mary Huff Stevenson
  5. 1 GREATER BOSTON IN TRANSITION
    (pp. 1-22)

    When we consider how cities and regions change, we normally think in terms of evolution, not revolution. Yet Boston is undergoing a demographic, industrial, and spatial revolution of enormous proportion—if, byrevolution, we mean something that changes dramatically in a brief space of time. Today’s visitor to Boston will no doubt be surprised to learn that this booming metropolitan region was considered a veritable urban basket case less than two decades ago. Its central city was hemorrhaging people, and the entire region was losing jobs. Violent crime was on the rise, and the city government was running out of...

  6. 2 THE DEMOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION: FROM WHITE ETHNOCENTRIC TO MULTICULTURAL BOSTON
    (pp. 23-50)

    Nearly a century ago, when it was still commonly known for the cod and the baked bean, Boston was largely distinguished by its English, Irish, and Italian roots. It was home to families with names like Adams and Smith, O’Donnell, Murphy, and Dorgan, and the recently arrived Marinos and Toscanos. Other ethnic groups, including a diverse sprinkling of Eastern and Western Europeans and Chinese, came to work in the region’s textile, shoe, and watch and clock industries. But the politics and much of the economics of the entire region was dominated by those who came from the British Isles. Newcomers...

  7. 3 THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: FROM MILL-BASED TO MIND-BASED INDUSTRIES
    (pp. 51-73)

    The single most important factor affecting a household’s economic well-being is its relation to the labor market. After all, with the exception of the very rich, the very poor, and the retired, the majority of most families’ income emanates from earnings, not from income-generating assets or transfer payments. Annual earnings for a family depend on a wide range of factors: the number of individuals within the household who work; how much each worker earns per hour; how steady is his or her employment; and whether the worker can find full- or part-time work.

    To a greater or lesser extent, these...

  8. 4 THE SPATIAL REVOLUTION: FROM HUB TO METROPOLIS
    (pp. 74-107)

    From the top floor of Boston’s tallest skyscraper, I. M. Pei’s John Hancock Building, one can view both the tiny area that comprised colonial Boston and the broad sweep of settlement that comprises Greater Boston today. While every metropolitan area can tell a story of outward expansion from an original core city, the Greater Boston story is unique in some important respects. Its spatial revolution sets the stage for understanding residential segregation by income and by race, just as its demographic and industrial revolutions provide the backdrop for understanding racial and ethnic attitudes and labor market outcomes. The spatial revolution...

  9. 5 WHO WE ARE: HOW FAMILIES FARE IN GREATER BOSTON TODAY
    (pp. 108-143)

    An important starting point for any discussion of a place is to find out who lives there. Since this research is especially aimed at understanding those characteristics of households and individuals that affect the opportunity nexus, and in particular how that nexus differs for non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white families, the baseline information presented here compares these three raceethnic groups on a variety of indicators of economic well-being. “Who are we?” varies enormously, depending on whether “we” refers to blacks, Hispanics, or whites.

    More than a third of Boston-area blacks are immigrants, making this community far different from black...

  10. 6 WHAT DO BOSTON-AREA RESIDENTS THINK OF ONE ANOTHER?
    (pp. 144-164)
    Michael Massagli

    Boston’s history, like that of many other cities, has a legacy of racial and ethnic division. Especially in the decades after World War II, blacks and whites were at odds over neighborhoods, schools, jobs, and politics. An environment of conflict and distrust influenced racial identity and often hardened one group’s view of another.

    In recent years, however, Boston has gone through dramatic change, as we saw in chapter 3. Since the 1970s, the metropolitan area has developed a more diverse racial and ethnic mix. The Hispanic population has surged, as refugees have fled Central America and Puerto Ricans have come...

  11. 7 RESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES AND SEGREGATION
    (pp. 165-198)
    Michael Massagli

    In the last chapter, we considered prevailing racial and ethnic attitudes in Greater Boston. The analysis suggested that the region faces a great challenge, to the extent that a significant proportion of each racial and ethnic group perceives its own economic and political future as part of a zero-sum game. Whites worry that economic gains by blacks through affirmative action hiring might come at their expense. Many of those who already live in the area, regardless of skin color or country of origin, fear that further immigration to Greater Boston would threaten their own job security. Success and failure in...

  12. 8 THE LABOR MARKET: HOW WORKERS WITH LIMITED SCHOOLING ARE FARING IN GREATER BOSTON
    (pp. 199-273)

    We are now prepared to ask how the triple revolution and the opportunity nexus have figured in the success or failure of blacks, Hispanics, and whites in the regional labor market. In the complex environment of multicultural Boston, where high-tech is king and the economy is strong; where ethnic and racial identities remain powerful; where the spatial distribution of economic activity is constantly shifting; and where the political context is always in flux, who is winning in the labor market and why? Is the boom bypassing the inner city, or does Boston buck the emerging trend of the “jobless ghetto”?...

  13. 9 THE IMPACT OF HUMAN, SOCIAL, AND CULTURAL CAPITAL ON JOB SLOTS AND WAGES
    (pp. 274-332)

    In the last chapter we studied the determinants of hourly wages and annual earnings for black, Hispanic, and white workers with limited education. We devoted special attention to this group because those who are least advantaged in terms of schooling presumably are the ones who would be most adversely affected by Greater Boston’s triple revolution.

    In this chapter, we investigate the entire Greater Boston labor force, including those with more than a high school education. We search for the factors responsible for determiningwherepeople work: the industries, occupations, and firms in which people find employment. We develop separate models...

  14. 10 WHAT DO BOSTON AREA EMPLOYERS SEEK IN THEIR WORKERS?
    (pp. 333-366)
    Philip Moss and Chris Tilly

    In the two preceding chapters, we examined how labor markets operate from the vantage point of the individual worker. We asked a series of questions, including: What factors affect the likelihood that an individual will be in the labor force? Be unemployed? Occupy a particular job slot? Work a certain number of hours per week? Earn a specified hourly wage? We focused on the supply side of the labor market—the attributes of workers who offer their services to employers. But just as the market for apples is influenced not only by those who want tosellapples but by...

  15. 11 SHARING THE FRUITS OF GREATER BOSTON’S RENAISSANCE
    (pp. 367-392)

    To succeed over the long run, every metropolitan area must periodically reinvent itself, as the leading industries of one generation become the sunset industries of the next. Some areas seem better able to do this than others. The phenomenal resuscitation of Greater Boston, from economic basket case of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s to exemplar of urban and metropolitan rejuvenation at the end of the twentieth century, has been a central theme of this book.

    Another has been the transition from what used to be one of the most lily-white regions of the country to one that is rapidly becoming...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 393-408)
  17. References
    (pp. 409-434)
  18. Index
    (pp. 435-461)