Fanon Howell

BA, Morehouse College. MA, New York University. PhD. The New School for Social Research. Postdoctoral Fellow, Teachers College, Columbia University. Dissertation examined the effects of New York City education reforms on policymaking, management culture, and the organization of district bureaucracy from 2003-2010. Special interests in urban sociology, structural inequality, sociology of education, social theory, sociology of culture, organizational theory, networks, and sociology of the body. Co-editor: Max Weber Matters: Interweaving Past and Present. Author of Adorno’s Paradox, Weber’s Constructivism: Scrutinizing Theory and Method, and Entropic Management: Restructuring District Office Culture in the New York City Department of Education (forthcoming). Managerial experience with the New York City Department of Education, the YMCA of Greater New York, the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, and the International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. Teaching experience at Columbia University, The New School for Liberal Arts, CUNY, and Pratt Institute. SLC, 2013-

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

Cities and Urbanization

Spring

What is the object of study for urban sociologists? The very concept of “urban” is a geographical, political, and cultural constellation; but what constitutes the limits of the city? This lecture examines the historical constitution of urban sociology and surveys the development of cities as sites for the study of social affairs, institutions, and innovations. The course covers classical theory and foundations of urban sociology (Simmel, Tönnies, Wirth, Park, Burgess, Jacobs, DuBois), as well as contemporary scholarship in the field (Harvey, Soja, Sassen, Logan & Molotch, Zukin, Florida, Wacquant). We will explore core approaches to the study of the city—the ecological approach, subcultural approach, political economy approach, and postmodern identity-based approaches—and seek to understand their relation to one another, as well as how they address urban issues such as suburbia, consumption, ghettoes, globalization, immigration, race, crime, and gentrification.

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Marginality and Penalization

Fall

Marginalization is a characteristic trait of cities in the first world, and penalization has been responsive to new forms of urban development since the 1980s. Marginality refers to the exclusion of certain populations from a social mainstream because of cultural differences (race, ethnicity, religion), social roles (women, elderly, adolescents), and/or their location in the social structure (political, economic, social powerlessness). By definition, penalization subjects a person or entity to legal sanctions and punishment and/or imposes an unfair disadvantage. This seminar examines these topics in urban areas of the United States, in particular, via film, television, and texts of prominent authors in these fields, including Michelle Alexander, Javier Auyero, Alice O’Connor, Saskia Sassen, Loïc Wacquant, and Alford Young. We will introduce the problems—racial and cultural encapsulation, migration and immigration, education, health care, jobs, housing, globalization, poverty—and scrutinize the debates; e.g., the role of the state, differences in the way marginality is constructed, its impact on social mobility, new penal policies and their connection to urban renewal, the decline of the social welfare state, punishing the poor, the outsourcing of work, and forms of resistance.

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Sociology of Education

Spring

This seminar introduces students to sociological theory, methods, and research on the topic of schooling in the United States and abroad. Using both classical and contemporary readings, we will examine the reciprocity between schools, individuals, and societies and traverse conversations on the purpose and promise of schooling in response to industrialization, urbanization, and globalization. Topics addressed include the influence of politics, policy, and economics on the field of education; inequality and the factors of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality; culture and youth behavior; schools’ organizational environment; and different techniques of reform: accountability, autonomy, community engagement, charters, vouchers, network governance, mayoral influence, teacher evaluation, and financial incentives.

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Previous courses

Sociolog(ies) of the Body

Spring

The body is a socially constructed entity that is intimately connected to our subjectivity in such a way that it formulates consciousness and identity. The body rises out of interactions and the practices and performances that at once develop and sustain self but are also constructed by society and the order of things.The body is, therefore, an object and a subject; and it is the process of embodiment, of the subject filling in the object, that: 1) reflexively defines one’s identity; and 2) simultaneously constructs a symbolic meaning and significance of a body for the social world. This intermediate-level seminar explores how this embodiment occurs and the various modes from which it does. We examine the narratives that we tell ourselves, the discourses told of us, and the stories that others tell of themselves. In doing so, we traverse the breadth of theories and issues that make up sociolog(ies) of the body: from the politics of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation to piercing and tattoos, from preoccupations with the healthy and ill body to alterations like plastic surgery and human genetic engineering.

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