Forum Abstracts 2013

The Impact of Employment Status on Nonresident Fathers’ Financial  and Personal Involvement with their Children

Deborah Blanks, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

In American culture, family structure, relationship and processes have changed over the years. Gone are the days when the father had three basic responsibilities toward his children: provide financially, give sage advice and be the authority figure providing discipline. One of the greatest changes regarding family structure is that two parent households are no longer the prevalent family structure in some communities. The change began slowly around the middle of the 1900s for African American and Hispanic families. The percent of black babies born to unmarried parents has risen significantly over the last sixty years. Still, fathers play a critical role in the lives of their children; being a father can be a life altering experience for fathers, whether married, cohabitating or nonresident. Most fathers, regardless of marital status or living arrangements, rate six major parental roles as very important.  However studies have shown that there is a difference in the level of financial and personal support provided by fathers who are married and reside in the homes from nonresident fathers.

While not living with the child and the child’s mother, the nonresident father is a part of what is increasingly considered a fragile family.  Fragile families are often formed by two adults who have/had a loving relationship, became parents of a child but did not marry and do not cohabit.  These families are often unstable with parents having low earnings and high unemployment.   Yet few studies focus primarily on nonresident and the fragile family has just recently become a research subject.

This study examines the role that employment plays in the involvement of nonresident fathers with their children.  Blanks conducted research using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study which followed a cohort of 4,898 U.S. Children born to approximately 3600 non-married and 1100 married couples between 1998 to 2000.  In Wave Nine, the focus of this research study, 2129 fathers participated in telephone interviews.  The analytic sample size for this research is 732 non-married nonresident fathers.  The hypothesis for this study is “Employed nonresident fathers provide greater parental support to their children than unemployed nonresident fathers.”

For the purpose of this research, the concept of parental support is defined as father’s financial involvement and persona l involvement with the child.  Two dependent variables are utilized to operationalize the concept of parental support; scales are developed for both variables.  One scale measures the father’s financial involvement with the child based on what the father buys the child.  The other scale measures the father’s personal involvement with the child based on activities they do together. The results of the research demonstrate that the level of financial and personal involvement of nonresident fathers with their children is impacted by employment.  The research also indicates that other variables analyzed in the study impact parental support as well.


The Environmental Advocacy of Architect Lillian Leenhouts

Lynn Gransee, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

Lillian Leenhouts was not only Wisconsin’s first licensed female architect, she was also an environmental activist.  Over the course of her decades-long architectural career, she and her partner Willis Leenhouts designed their commissions with a sensitivity to the benefits of passive solar.  However, her activism was not embedded solely in her energy-friendly designs; she was also a leader in community work to raise awareness of the value of the Milwaukee River and other environmental issues.  This paper will argue that Lillian Leenhouts’ environmental contributions make her an exemplar of stewardship.


The Politics of the Milwaukee County Freeway System: The Maier Administration and the Freeway Controversy

Neal A. Johnson, Urban Studies Master’s Student

This paper looks at the issue of highway and freeway building in the United States during the 20th Century; with a specific look at the freeway controversy in Milwaukee during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Important background on federal highway policy provides the framework for understanding the role of the federal government in this local issue. Freeways in the United States were a political machine that became unstoppable. The auto subsidy and the highway lobby are an ingrained part of our culture that has shaped much of the urban environment as we know it. The freeway controversy in Milwaukee was highly politicized and Mayor Henry Maier played an intricate role in this debate where he proclaimed to have “throttled the concrete monster.” The Mayor and the freeway experience in Milwaukee acknowledged and questioned the transformation that the freeways were having on the city. Not only were neighborhoods being destroyed, but residents and businesses were leaving the city and the expressways seemed to be the cause. Overall, the freeway issue in Milwaukee became a political tool used by the Mayor to gain power and influence in the local political arena.


Freeways in Suspended Animation: Grassroots Movement, Federal Legislation, and Redevelopment Attempts in Milwaukee, 1965-1980

Shannon Kelley, Urban Studies Master’s Student

This article presents a case study of the freeway revolt in Milwaukee during the 1960s and 1970s. Unlike many other successful anti-freeway movements in large cities across the United States and Canada, the anti-freeway movement in Milwaukee lacked several crucial elements such as supportive political power, media coverage, and leadership.  Yet, even with these glaring deficits, the anti-freeway movement in Milwaukee was able to stop several intended freeway projects throughout the city from coming to complete fruition.  This paper, focusing on the weak relationship between business and political leaders, the rise of grassroots coalitions, and new federal legislation, analyzes how the anti-freeway movement in Milwaukee was able to stop the building of the Park West Freeway.


Theory of Administration of Milwaukee Municipal Operations  During the Daniel W. Hoan Mayoralty

Scott R. Letteney, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

Milwaukee Mayor Daniel W. Hoan was a proponent of local government.  He believed that municipal government, in ways that state and federal government could never match, had singular importance to the lives of individuals.  City governments, according to Hoan, were responsible for the daily quality of lives of their citizens.  With responsibility for police, fire, health, education, parks, and public works, city governments touched the average citizen every day, and those citizens were concerned about the quality and fidelity of local governments above any other.

Hoan’s avowedly used Socialist ideas in formulating policy and broad governmental procedures.  While determining policy is a valued and important part of the duties of elected officials, inasmuch as Hoan and most Socialists did not believe in a professional class of municipal managers or the commission form of government, the oversight of the planning, organizing, coordinating, and supervising of day-to-day city operations, programs, and activities were also left the mayor and his staff.

Application of political philosophy may be effective for determining broad-brush policy matters.  Policy must be implemented, however, and such implementation may not involve particularly ideological thought.  How did Hoan and his staff make decisions about more mundane matters?  Hoan found college education at the time to lack the ability to train governmental professionals.  So the answer to the means by which the Hoan administration possessed and developed the skills to administer the government operations of Milwaukee must be found elsewhere.  I argue that, at least in part, the answer may be found in the early development of public administration as a science and study, which came to pass in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  In addition, there had been several Socialist municipal administrations in the United States during the early years of Hoan’s elective service in Milwaukee.  Such administrations would have provided real world examples of Socialist practices that worked and those that did not.  This paper is intended to enter a conversation about the bases for decision-making during the Hoan mayoralty.


“In the Face of Growing Tension”: Milwaukee Citizens for Equal Opportunity and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1960-1966

Meghan C. McDonald, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

In late 1960 the educational civil rights movement encountered violent and sustained resistance in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tumultuous situation spurred a response one thousand miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An interracial group of concerned citizens came together as the Milwaukee Citizens for Equal Opportunity (MCEO) to change the community climate regarding racial justice and join the struggle for civil rights for all. Over the next several years, MCEO members devoted time, money, and energy to pursuing economic, social, educational, and racial justice. Smaller MCEO campaigns included financial and moral support and were directed outside of Wisconsin. Their more focused efforts centered in the city of Milwaukee, particularly desegregating education and opening housing. Where orthodox efforts had failed regarding the latter, MCEO embarked on an ambitious, alternative mechanism to change the face of housing in Milwaukee. In many ways, the techniques and strategy of Milwaukee Citizens for Equal Opportunity were conventional; these modest working and middle class Milwaukeeans were very much citizen-activists. However, even as they recognized the need for formal, legislative wins for racial justice, they also knew that the social climate around these contentious issues needed changing. This concern bears out in their efforts. By publicly challenging broken policies and failed committees, as well as calling for fellow integrationists and encouraging progressive citizenry, MCEO helped shape the community climate in a northern Rustbelt city, as segregated as the next. MCEO formally dismantled in 1966. It is unclear whether this resulted from internal fracturing as trends in community organizing became more militant or collective discouragement as inaction from city government persisted. At the time of this writing, some fifty years later, racial injustice continues to plague Milwaukee and the United States. It is illustrative to scrutinize the records and efforts of community groups such as MCEO—including their fundamental strengths and strategic mistakes. Citizen-activists exert their influence upon community dialogue and climate through their work to eradicate social ills. By analyzing groups that have come before us—and having that inform present community work—a  better understanding of the possibilities and pitfalls may mean a better chance of success; justice and equality cannot wait another fifty years.


Decentralization and the Neighborhood:  The Thinking of Paul Goodman, Milton Kotler, Karl Hess, and the Institute for Policy Studies on Neighborhood Government

Brian Mueller, History Doctoral Student

The community organizing efforts of the Students for a Democratic Society in places like Cleveland and Newark are well-known.  As SDS carried out their community organizing efforts in various cities, intellectuals at the Institute for Policy Studies offered an alternative theoretical basis for community organizers.  The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a left-wing think tank created by former government officials Marcus Raskin and Richard Barnet in Washington D.C. in 1963, offered both a theory and a strategy for community organizers interested in decentralization.  In this paper, I will illustrate how Milton Kotler, Karl Hess, and others played a leading role in the movement to allow citizens a greater role in the decision-making process at the local level.  In 1963 IPS fellow Paul Goodman wrote People or Personnel, which offered a critique of the “excessive centralization” of the postwar United States.  While not advocating outright anarchism, Goodman explained how centralization in schools and in corporations negatively impacted students and workers, respectively.  As Goodman provided his critical evaluation of the centralized society, IPS fellow Milton Kotler presented a strategy for neighborhood government.  Kotler offered a manifesto of sorts for decentralization with the publication in 1969 of his book Neighborhood Government.  I will show how Kotler’s book offered an alternative view of community organizing in which local citizens would personally attempt to gain control of the reins of power of their neighborhood government.  Unlike the Economic Research and Action Project of the Students for a Democratic Society, Kotler suggested that local residents needed to focus on purely local issues, not attempt to overthrow national institutions.  Finally, my paper will investigate the writings of Karl Hess, a libertarian who, while at IPS, urged local communities to use technology to gain independence from city, state, and national leaders.


Haitians in Miami: Acculturation and Status Attainment after Public Policy Change

Joy Neilson, Urban Studies Master’s Student

The United States is dependent on a steady flow of immigrants for population and economic growth. How the U.S. as a host country, receives an immigrant group is important because it impacts the way in which immigrant groups choose to accept and adopt American culture. This study examines the Haitian immigrant community in Miami to test the model of acculturation developed by E. H. Cohen (2011). Cohen’s model is unique, because it takes into account the attitudes of the established immigrant community in the host country as a determinant in immigrant acculturation.  Although acculturation is an internal process, it can be observed at the community level. This study measures changes in socioeconomic status and political representation as indicators of acculturation.  The Haitian community is represented by the residents of the Little Haiti neighborhood in Miami (Census tracts 20.03 and 20.04).  Although not representative of the entire Haitian-American community in Miami, Little Haiti is still considered the cultural center. Cohen’s model is tested by measuring the SES and political representation of the Haitian community after a change in policy that removed the favored “refugee” status from Haitian immigrants. Cohen’s theory predicts a change in the attitudes of the host country towards the immigrant community would produce a change in the level of acculturation.

The results show that the change in policy had little impact on the Little Haiti neighborhood. Changes in SES did not significantly vary between Little Haiti and Miami overall. However, the larger Haitian-American community in Miami may have experienced an increased rate of acculturation, as evidenced by the increase in political representation. This may be due to the reduction of the immigrant flow from Haiti. More research is needed to understand the factors that influence Haitian immigrant acculturation in Miami.


Growing Up Amid Globalization

Mehdi Nejatbakhsh, Urban Studies Master’s Student

With the advent of globalization, as a cultural phenomenon, new experiences among individuals have been met. People may think that they are in a new world, with new means, new opportunities, and new characteristics. Alongside this transformation, a new generation is coming of age. The children, or the youth, are experiencing this new condition, i. e. globalization, at a time when they are just beginning to understand what the life is and how the world around them looks like. This has a profound impact on them and their lives. Some may say that they consider globalization as taken for granted, while their parents are still being surprised of what is happening in the world (regarding cultural globalization.) The children are coming of age at a time when, as scholars notably discuss, a new “global culture” has emerged, and this new culture will affect their “identity” making. In addition, there is a more debate on “world citizenship” as what is needed today with the emergence of globalization. And this will also affect new generations’ ideologies. Furthermore, these effects are more intense and visible in cities, especially the “global” cities, as the individuals are more exposed to globalization processes in them. This piece is a literature review about the new experiences amid globalization especially among the new generations. It is important to understand the different aspects of these effects on the new generations not only to know how their life would be, but also in order to adopt more effective social and educational policies and programs for them.


Spatial Reflections in the Marketplace: Brady Street in the Past Hundred Years

Ashkan Rezvani Naraghi, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

This article traces the transformation of businesses on Brady Street’s marketplace in Lower Eastside of Milwaukee, in the past hundred years. It argues that while capital has managed to retain its hegemony over the urban space by slightest variation in the composition of the businesses, ordinary people were able to leave their traces on the commercial landscape through their creative process of adaptation.


Spatial Elements of Wage Inequality: Data from South East Wisconsin

Milton Sarria, Economics Master’s Student

Latinas and African women receive less wage income than any other large demographic group. This study looks into the role space plays in shaping job opportunities and wage earnings these groups get in South East Wisconsin relative to others in this region. Outcomes imply that individual characteristics like age, education, marital status, and English proficiency are significant, however spatial forces also have an effect on wage income. Access to jobs and labor competition explain part of the variation in wage income. This research paper offers support to the idea that labor market scales vary among groups within some U.S. metropolitan areas, with Latinas and African American women being more limited and consequently more reliant on local assets and job opportunities than other group of workers.


The “Petite Bonnes”: A Legitimate Trafficking Option?

The “Petite Bonnes” situation in Morocco may be similar to other situations in which employees experience abuses from their employers.  Yet, one difference between the children employed as domestic laborers in Morocco and other industries within the country, or internationally, is that these individuals’ rights under their cultural expectations and local and state laws offer little protection to them; and thus, they are placed in similar predicaments as individuals who are forcibly trafficked.  The academic scholarship on the “Petite Bonnes” is not expansive.  Yet, what stands out the most from scholarship, the actions of nongovernmental organizations and the policies of international community leaders is the stance that those who are mistreated and abused should be protected under official laws of the countries, and have options for recourse when these laws are violated.  I rely on several primary and secondary sources-including print and online media within and outside Morocco, which highlights general and specific abuses to domestic workers, academic scholarship on policy development surrounding domestic workers, and reports from the government and community aggregated data on the “Petite Bonnes” working in Morocco-to explore whether this stance is only policy or actually a part of practice.

In my research, I will explore how Moroccans and the international community, both government agencies and non-governmental organizations, have viewed the situation of the “Petite Bonnes.”  Through this study, I posit that the last 10 years, what we see in the case of the “Petite Bonnes” are instances of human trafficking, especially in light of the universal legislation and policies on human rights, determined by the language used in discussing the situation, the legislation and the policies proposed, enacted and enforced.  These instances of human trafficking are directed by the economic situations, specifically the work force opportunities, in the cities in which the girls are migrating.


Urban Planning and Zoning Commission Governance

Kari Smith, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

Despite their position as vehicles for citizen representation and authority at the highest levels of the urban planning process, little documentation can be found on the oversight and governance of urban planning and zoning commissions. Are there uniform obligations and processes for these entities? How are decisions made and who is selected to serve? Are planning commissions truly representative of urban populations? How do commissions vary from city to city and between states?

This paper is an exploration of the current standards and documentation of planning and zoning commission proceedings. This effort is being undertaken under the larger interest in specifying their contemporary role, structure, and governance in planning processes and their subsequent impact on the development of U.S. cities.

In order to understand the purpose, scope, and limitations of planning and zoning commissions, this paper will begin with a synopsis of the historical context of municipal government in the United States at the time that planning and zoning commissions first emerged in the early 20th Century. Next, a literature review will be provided on the contemporary role and governance of urban planning commissions. This assessment will be supplemented with a brief literature review on the same for comparable bodies such as  non-profit board and non-planning commissions as a means for comparison.

This literature review and analysis will offer both a sense of the opportunity for further exploration and similar development as well as reveal fundamental differences rooted in historical context. The hypothesis of this paper is that very little is known or consistently studied about the operations and influence of planning and zoning commissions. Through exploring the state of the scholarship on planning commissions, this work will contribute to a clear understanding of what we know and don’t know about the true impact and oversight of urban planning and zoning commissions on our cities.


Making News in Milwaukee: Two Newspapers’ Coverage of Police Brutality

Ron Smith, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

Through primary interviews, textual analysis and the use of framing theory, this paper examines how two Milwaukee newspapers — one geared at African Americans and one that serves a general audience — covered the biggest police brutality case to hit Milwaukee in 25 years.  The papers took different approaches to reporting on the October, 24, 2004, beating of a biracial man by off-duty White Police Department officers in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.  The Black-oriented weekly continued the advocacy tradition of the Black press and gave its readers a platform to discuss race and used sources from within the community to frame its coverage, while the mainstream daily took an aggressive watchdog approach and offered comprehensive reporting, utilizing a wide range of sources, in an effort to hold officials who wanted to keep the case from public view accountable.  The victim’s multicultural background added a new dimension to this discourse as both papers grappled with the thorny issue of racial identification as America’s color line moves beyond just Black and White.


“Perceptions, Strategies, and Consequences: Addressing Crime in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park Community”

William I. Tchakirides, History Doctoral Student

In 1970, a group of liberal, educated, middle class white couples living on Milwaukee’s northwest side decided to prioritize rather than fear racial integration. Following a turbulent decade of social protest, civil unrest, and heightened racial tensions, the collective founded the Sherman Park Community Association to improve neighborhood communication and support creative projects designed to foster racial equality. Throughout the seventies, an increasingly integrated, anti-suburban SPCA imagined the civic advantages of mixed-race urban living instead of panicking at the thought of African American immigration and the poverty, crime, and degradation perceived by some residents to accompany such movement.

Gradually, issues of crime and safety dominated staff and neighborhood meetings as anticipated social and economic changes accelerated in the late seventies and eighties. In particular, Sherman Park became younger, poorer, and more racially diverse as thousands of African American families migrated north and west in search of improved living conditions. Consequently, white and black middle class residents attributed Sherman Park’s rising crime rate to the youthful idleness of new in-migrants, increases in renter-occupied housing, and the unavailability of blue-collar jobs. Recognizing that crime, and perceptions of crime, threatened its larger mission, the SPCA effectively linked crime-control to primary association objectives.

However, persistent non-violent crimes and an uptick in violent, drug-related crimes pushed both white and black Sherman Park residents to demand safer, cleaner, and more welcoming public spaces in the late eighties and early nineties. The SPCA understood it was not equipped to address crime alone and demanded a more visible police presence to ensure neighborhood safety. By the mid-eighties, a decisive change in police leadership signaled the potential for even greater police-community coordination.

This paper argues that despite reducing the incidence of certain crimes, tempering out-migration patterns, improving its organizational capacities, and educating its members on the root-causes of criminal activity, the SPCA’s determined efforts to control crime inevitably failed to produce a lasting atmosphere of safety and security and, along with local politicians and the MPD, did not go far enough in providing meaningful solutions to the socio-economic issues begetting urban crime.

While the SPCA railed against the structural racism precluding local security long-term, it still needed to convince Sherman Park residents of integration’s feasibility in the interim, lest they abandon their group’s overarching mission. Fed up with the MPD’s inability to meet its standards of police-community relations, the SPCA transitioned from addressing crime through block watch initiatives in the eighties to actively patrolling their community alongside the police in the early nineties.

In truth, the SPCA’s anti-crime initiatives in this period joined a range of political policies and law enforcement practices to result in considerable long-term consequences for the growing number of poor and working class residents of color they hoped to integrate. Though justified in its efforts to reduce crime in an immediate sense and provide a measure of neighborhood safety, vocal SPCA demands for more focused policing ultimately helped advance the criminalization of Milwaukee’s urban spaces and the development of America’s carceral state.


“‘Cheat You Fair’: How the University of Illinois Used News to Beat the Blues”

John Terry, History Doctoral Student

There are a variety of avenues for the exploration of urban change in the United States in the post-war era.  Sociologists, geographers, architects, urban planners, and historians have done much to chart the impacts of deindustrialization on metropolitan areas and have clearly pointed out the ways that state power and racist and class-based policies have shaped development in cities.  Many of the steps taken at the federal, state, and city level were designed for the benefit of the few and many contemporary urban problems are the result of misguided polices.  Less attention has been paid to the shifting context in which urban change has taken place.  As the action of political bosses fueled by funds from the federal government has given way to private and quasi-private investment that has characterized development over the last 30 years, historians need to look closely at the changing “style” of urban change.  My work looks specifically at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and the nearby Maxwell Street Market.  I am examining the changing style through three inter-related lenses: the urban project, the urban regime, and the urban paradigm.  My goal is to understand how the process of urban renewal in Chicago changed dramatically from the 1960s, when UIC was built over an Italian neighborhood, to the 1990s when the university expanded into a neighborhood that served as a cultural center for black, Latino/a, and white Chicagoans.  The three lenses help us to understand the changing dynamics, both eras of expansion were projects, in that there were dedicated actors with clear goals about the nature of the city in mind who were enacting changes in the physical landscape.  These projects were carried out through different regimes, meaning there were different officials, different laws enacted, and different agencies through which change took place.  Although there was much difference in the particular projects and the regimes under which they were carried out, there seems to be a similar urban paradigm that characterizes both eras of development in Chicago: the urban center has to be preserved in order to secure investment, some physical spaces and bodies are less valuable than others and are treated as such by decision makers.  Essentially, the rich get richer as change occurs, and the poor are moved farther to the margins of the city.  I see this article as a step forward in rethinking urban change and understanding contemporary problems with urban development at the expense of the city’s most vulnerable populations.  At its core, the project is about understanding democracy: who has access to the public, when state money is used to remove certain groups from the city core while enriching private entities that stand to gain from other’s losses?


“The ‘Cultural Deprivation’ of Milwaukee’s Youth: Two Interpretations of a Problematic Concept”

Lucas John Wolff, History Master’s Student

Throughout the 1960s, African American high school students across the United States were demanding the inclusion of “black history” in their schools. This was no less true in Milwaukee, as the city experienced a wave of direct-action protests led by African American students between 1967 and 1968 demanding the inclusion of African American history in standard U.S. history courses, as well as the development of classes which would teach African history, culture, and languages. Although Milwaukee saw little in the way of such curricular reform prior to the student protests for black history, school officials had in fact been genuinely interested in enacting positive change within the curriculum for a number of years prior to the students themselves forcing a reform in response to their militant demonstrations.  The Milwaukee Public Schools’ (MPS) Superintendent, along with several other highlevel school officials and school board members, were part of a national coalition of urban educators dedicated to improving the conditions in their schools. This coalition, the Research Council of the Great Cities Program for School Improvement, was comprised of representatives from the largest urban school systems in the country. Although these educators and administrators were genuinely concerned with the betterment of their schools, many of these same people were influenced by an emerging concept of a “culturally deprived” urban student. My paper juxtaposes the perspectives of MPS administrators with that of Milwaukee’s black youth during the Civil Rights Movement in regard to whether or not these students were in fact “culturally deprived.”


Reconstruction of the City of Bam: National Identity or Political Legitimacy

Seyedeh Ladan Zarabadi, Architecture & Urban Planning Doctoral Student

The identity of nations is often a cultural matter, which has been undergoing severe challenges by political powers over time. They have perpetually attempted to interpret national identities and transform cultures in order to legitimize their authority and authenticity. In the other words, Culture as a dynamic phenomenon, has been influenced, formed, transformed and occasionally exploited by political powers in such a way as to urge nations to believe, validate and approve of them; which means, culture attains political flavor. Therefore, history and culture are considered as a means in the political sphere in order to bring legitimacy for the political actors. In fact they attenuate the real essence of a historical memory by accentuating a few parts and ignoring other parts of it.

This paper examines initially the interplay between political powers and national identity in a given society. The main argument is, history, culture and consequently national identity are influenced, formed, or transformed by political powers in order to enhance the legitimacy and authenticity of political system. This article explores how reconstruction of a historical-cultural complex can be a means for political power to establish a new sense of identity and redefine it in order to obtain legitimacy. The process of misrepresenting culture and national identity will be examined in the context of Iran during the last century, as a case study. This article focuses on the reconstruction of the old city of Bam especially after the earthquake of December 2003 which put Bam in a more critical situation.