This site is for public scholarly discussion of urban communities and culture, semiotics, and visual sociology.

Our photo archive contains collections from urban neighborhoods in many global cities. Check out the albums for Little Italies, Chinatowns, and neighborhoods in global cities by following the links in the right margin. We are adding new photographs regularly. If you have a collection of photos from a city not in the gallery and would like to contribute, please contact us.

We have a collection of learning modules available also. If you teach sociology, take a look to see what we offer. If you have additional materials you would like to share, please contact us.

We also maintain an archive of scholarly works on urban communities, urban semiotics, and visual sociology. In the right margin, you will also see links to some of our special exhibits.

For help, please consult "About This Site" — follow the links in the left margin. Questions? Email us at <webmaster AT brooklynsoc DOT org>.

What's New?

* T. Shortell. 2009. Brooklyn and Belleville: a Case Study of the Visual Semiotics of Ethnic Identity in Two Diverse Urban Neighborhoods. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Visual Sociology Association, Carlisle, Cumbria, UK.

* T. Shortell and J. Krase. 2009.Spatial Semiotics of Difference in Urban Vernacular Neighborhoods. Paper presented at the 9th European Sociological Association Conference, Lisbon, Portugal.

* J. Krase and T. Shortell. 2009. Visualizing Glocalization: Semiotics of Ethnic and Class Differences in Global Cities. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, Baltimore, MD.

* J. Krase and T. Shortell. 2008. Visualizing Glocalization: Changing Images of Ethnic Vernacular Neighborhoods in Global Cities. Paper presented at the First ISA Forum of Sociology, Barcelona, Spain.

* J. Krase and T. Shortell. 2007. Imagining Chinatowns and Little Italies: a Visual Approach to Ethnic Spectacles. Paper presented at Le Beau Dans La Ville: Colloque International. Tours, France.

Ground Zero Mosque: Ramadan Mobarak! by Jerry Krase

I wrote this blog a few weeks ago but the intolerance is growing so I thought I'd add a new note about "Park51," "Cordoba House," "the Islamic cultural, community center," and, of course "place of worship," (mosque) that its proposers and supporters (like myself) believed (hoped) would promote peace and understanding. The most venomous blabber so far has been the Newt's equating of Moslems to NAZIs and 9/11 to the Shoah. Given his recently reported conversion to Roman Catholicism, I assume the next Newt revision is the Inquisition and the Crusades and then, I assume, there is more to come.

Ethnic Politics: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, Vote for the Guy Whose Name Ends in “O.” by Jerry Krase

Two (or perhaps three) people with Italian-sounding last names are simultaneously running for governor of the State of New York. This means that Italian American voters will have to decide between them. My advice to them is find out on which side your bread is buttered and which one of them would butter it better as governor.

Political Color Blindness – Not! by Jerry Krase

The other day someone made the mistake of asking me if I really thought that the Republican Party’s lockstep opposition to virtually anything proposed by Obama has anything to do with race so I decided to use 14th century English logician, theologian, and Franciscan friar William of Occam's razor to make my case in the affirmative. Occam’s razor is a meta-theoretical principle that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem) and thereof the simplest solution is usually the correct one.

Explaining American Politics Again: The Health of Democracy by Jerry Krase

It is difficult to explain why, in reference to the passage of HR3962 "The Affordable Health Care for America Act," so many people who will actually benefit from it protested against it (and continue to do so). Attempts like this one are doomed to failure but I least I can say "I tried." (Ci ho provato)

The Meanings of Christmas Present by Jerry Krase (and Pierre Bourdieu)

Decorations for Christmas can say a lot more about people than the words they use to talk about it. Even the distinguished French sociologist Pierrre Bourdieu would agree with me as he had argued about such meaningfulness in Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. To put it less esoterically, the stuff lying and hanging around someone's home says an awful lot about them, whether they like or not. The things you own, and perhaps that own you, may also have hidden meanings that require more explanation.

Bloomberg and Berlusconi: Billionaire Balloteers by Jerry Krase

As one looks closely at the behavior and battles of Bloomberg and Berlusconi it seems that, besides being big buck billionaires, they have a great deal more in common than lots of money.

“Diversity in America: Past, Present, and Future?” by Jerry Krase

Even before the turn of the 21st Century and the election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th US President there were numerous, pronouncements about increasing American diversity. Much has been explained by the scale of immigration, yet compared to a century earlier, the current foreign-born proportion is hardly as great. More likely, extra attention to diversity is related to other factors such as the “racial” composition of the “Newest Americans,” conflicted attitudes toward diversity among all Americans, and Post-9/11 fears.

Media Mentions: The BC Faculty Bus Tour

Every year, Jerry leads the new faculty at BC on a tour of multicultural Brooklyn. Taking visual urban sociology to the people (as it were)!

As the bus turned down Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay and headed toward its first stop in Brighton Beach, Krase recounted the movement of various ethnic groups in and out of the neighborhoods. He and implored his audience to look closely at the people, the shops, the signage, and the types of housing that make up communities.

Read the full story at the Brooklyn Eagle

Sonia and Jeff: Judicial Temperament ( Temperamentos judiciales de Sonia y Jeff) by Jerry Krase

While I was watching the excruciatingly partisan Senate Judiciary hearings on the nomination of supremely qualified, but “otherwise Latina,” Sonia Maria Sotomayor to be seated on the highest court of our land, I increasingly felt an urge to throttle someone (tenía el impulso de estrangular alguien) just as I had felt a couple of evenings ago while watching my grandson (mi nieto) Spencer and his team valiantly playing, and losing, a championship baseball game against the umpire.

In Italian as well as American Politics, it seems that Boys will be Boys. (I ragazzi saranno ragazzi) by Jerry Krase

As I have often said; the difference between American and Italian politics is that, unfortunately (purtroppo), there is no difference in that on both sides of the Atlantic the trivial is deemed importance and the important is trivialized. But the reason for the apparent electoral sex appeal of Silvio Berlusconi to many similarly endowed, ungracefully aging, surgically and/or chemically enhanced, round-faced, bald Italian voters who are the Italian versions I assume (presuppongo) of Karl Rove, Glen Beck, Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh is obvious.

Ingenuous?: Apology for Slavery and Republican Support for Iranian Democracy by Jerry Krase

National Public Radio reported July 30, 2008 on" Congress Apologizes for Slavery, Jim Crow."

Remembering D-Day, Brooklyn Italian American Style on June 6, 2009, by Jerry Krase

There are many Italian American World War II heroes from Brooklyn. Between my wife's family and mine we have about a dozen or so. To name a few: her Uncles Joe, Frank, Anthony, and Sal, and my Uncles Matthew, Jerry, and Tommy served in every theater of war. All of their lives are worth knowing. This is a little piece of the lives of Frank Sabia and Joe Carbonaro. On this day, Barack Hussein Obama is standing where they once stood and hoping, as Frank and Joe did, that the killing will finally stop. On days like today we all should remember how much we really prefer not to need heroes.

"How Stupid Can You Get about Global Crises?" AKA: "Don't Ask" by Jerry Krase

Is it any wonder that Americans are so stupid? For me, Will Rogers Jr (1911-1993), epitomized America and Americans. The Cherokee-American cowboy was a well-known actor, humorist, and especially keen social commentator. Growing up with a crackly radio and a flickering, sometimes rolling, black and white television, I especially enjoyed his monologues focused on current events at the start of which he would slowly drawl out "Well, what shall I talk about?

"Remembrance of Jews past, but never lost" by Jerry Krase

The special focus where I also blog at www.i-Italy.org reminded me of times past, so I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on line and found this there about INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY:

My Wish for Obama by Jerry Krase

Now that BHO has become the new tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW it seems that everybody wants to get into the act with offering advice and guidance. The assumption is that not only does he have a mind, it is also a more open one.