NEIGHBORHOOD by Andrew M. Greeley


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Greeley, however much one sympathizes with his fondness for the ""social turf"" of the ethnic neighborhood, is to an extent battering at an open door. The preservation of the ""neighborhood"" is not now on the bottom of the social agenda. On the contrary, mayoral candidates proclaim the need to preserve these enclaves of tradition and stability. Nor is it fair to blame anonymous ""liberal elites"" for scorning the neighborhood as old-fashioned, reactionary, and bigoted--though South Boston and Dorchester during the busing controversy confirmed the worst stereotypes of ethnicity. More to the point is Greeley's recognition that ""you cannot defend the neighborhood at the neighborhood level,"" that the forces behind hi-rises, dual real estate markets (one for blacks, one for whites), expressways, urban renewal, and red-lining have crassly destroyed long-familiar living constellations in the name of some delusionary ""progress."" Greeley draws his examples from Chicago: the parishes of St. Andrews and Beverly Hills where he grew up, Bridgeport and Stanislowowo--he even defends Mayor Daley because he had the clout to preserve Bridgeport. But he tends to confuse memories of place with memories of time, of childhood, and adolescence. While nominally acknowledging that a neighborhood could be a stifling, parochial, and narrow-minded place, he dwells on the warmth and security of living where everyone knew everyone--forgetting that many people escaped as fast as they could. The photographs of children at play, of churches and middle-income homes are neither here nor there.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Seabury