Outer City Children: Individual and Institutional Responses to Black Out-Migration in Chicago
Eve L. Ewing

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Chicago

Primary Discipline

Demographic changes in Chicago and cities like it demand a re-examination of what we mean when we refer to "urban"? issues or "inner city youth,"? terms that often serve as unspoken racial and socioeconomic shorthand. Since 2000, the number of Black residents in Chicago has dropped 22 percent. Existing scholarship explores the changing nature of race in suburbia, but has not addressed what these shifts mean for those left behind in changing cities. In this study, I offer the theoretical construct of the "outer city,"? an ontological and spatial condition of marginality. I then ask: how do Black Chicagoans make meaning of these demographic shifts? How are practitioners within the city's schools and social service institutions that have historically served Black families responding? What implications do these changes have for the way we conceptualize "urban education"?? I will address these questions using the qualitative sociological research method of portraiture, using participant observation, semi-structured and unstructured interviews, and contextual quantitative data to analyze the particular circumstances of four to six focal individuals in order to illustrate broader social phenomena. This study seeks to document a historically significant moment of demographic change and to critically examine a changing relationship between Blackness and urbanity.
About Eve L. Ewing
Eve L. Ewing is an Assistant Professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She is a qualitative sociologist of education whose work is centered around two primary questions: First, how do racism and other large-scale structures of social inequality impact the everyday lives and experiences of young people? Secondly, how can K-12 public school systems serve to interrupt or perpetuate these social problems, and what role can educators, policymakers, families, community members, and young people themselves play in understanding, acknowledging, and disrupting them? Ewing?s book Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago?s South Side was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2018. She also writes in other genres for broad audiences; she is author of the poetry collections Electric Arches and 1919 and writes for Marvel Comics. Her work has appeared in many venues, including Poetry Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. She directs the Beyond Schools Lab and is a Faculty Affiliate at UChicago?s Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

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