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Practicing Community

Practicing Community
Class Culture and Power in an Urban Neighborhood

How a working-class community works to preserve their community.

January 1998
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
368 pages | 6 x 9 | 8 maps, 24 figures |

Cincinnati's East End river community has been home to generations of working-class people. This racially mixed community has roots that reach back as far as seven generations. But the community is vulnerable. Developers bulldoze "raggedy" but affordable housing to build upscale condos, even as East Enders fight to preserve the community by participating in urban development planning controlled by powerful outsiders.

This book portrays how East Enders practice the preservation of community. Drawing on more than six years of anthropological research and advocacy in the East End, Rhoda Halperin argues for redefining community not merely as a place, but as a set of culturally embedded and class-marked practices that give priority to caring for children and the elderly, procuring livelihood, and providing support for family, friends, and neighbors. These practices create the structures of community within the larger urban power structure.

Halperin uses different genres to weave the voices of East Enders throughout the book. Poems and narratives offer poignant insights into the daily struggles against impersonal market forces that work against the struggle for livelihood. This firsthand account questions commonly held assumptions about working-class people. In a fresh way, it reveals the cultural construction of marginality, from the viewpoints of both "real East Enders" and the urban power structure.


James Mooney Award
Southern Anthropological Society

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • 1. Guideposts
  • 2. Community in Practice
  • 3. Being a Real East Ender: Families and Their Histories
  • 4. East End Textures: Hidden Dimensions of Being a Real East Ender
  • 5. Fieldwork at Home: The East End Study Project
  • 6. The Cultural Economy of the East End
  • 7. Community Planning: East Enders’ Perspectives
  • 8. Health, Culture, and Practicing Community
  • 9. Contested Territory: The Struggle for Affordable Housing in the East End
  • 10. The Heritage Center Comes of Age: Persistent Leadership, Struggles, and Dreams
  • 11. Local Colonialism and the Politics of Factionalism
  • 12. The Flood of ’97
  • 13. Practicing Community, Culture, and Class
  • Postscript: An Essay on Theory and Practice
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Author Index
  • Subject Index

The late Rhoda H. Halperin was Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cincinnati.