George C. Galster


On his book Making Our Neighborhoods, Making Our Selves

Cover Interview of August 07, 2019

The wide angle

Urban theorists have tried for generations to define exactly what a neighborhood is. But behind that daunting existential question lies a much murkier problem: how do you make neighborhoods productive and fair for their residents? In Making Our Neighborhoods, Making Our Selves, I delve deeply into the question of whether American neighborhoods are as efficient and equitable as they could be—socially and financially—and, if not, what we can do to change that. I aim to redefine the relationship between places and people, promoting specific policies at the local, state, and federal levels that reduce inequalities in opportunity associated with neighborhood inequalities.

Though I was trained in economics, I realized early in my career that to understand neighborhoods thoroughly, one needed to also draw upon insights from sociology, geography, and psychology. Making Our Neighborhoods, Making Our Selves is my attempt to synthesize a lifetime of thinking about this issue in a holistic way. My goal is to deliver a clear-sighted explanation of what neighborhoods are, how they come to be, why they change—and what they should be.