In the Fall of 2016 and Spring of 2017, Dr. Jackson’s Urban Sociology students spent time in the Atlantic City community specifically with the Black Lives Matter Atlantic City Chapter and Asbury United Community Development Center. This project is part of a larger research project that Dr. Jackson is conducting called “Transforming Atlantic County: How City Officials, University and Community Stakeholders Understand Progress, Change and Renewal.” Within her class, students participated in a community perspectives project where they learned about urban sociology while conducting a service learning project with the chapter and community development center. Each semester, students hosted a community interview session where they facilitated group interviews with Atlantic County residents. In the Fall, students participated in monthly forums on different issues affecting the community. In the Spring, students fed 225 hungry and homeless residents at Asbury United CommunityDevelopment Center. To read posts by students analyzing their interviews with residents see the drop down menus for both Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.
Both Urban Sociology courses has four fundamental and powerful concepts (F&Ps): power, environment, behavior and interactions. By the end of both semesters, the students and I reflected on our F &Ps but also several themes they found in their interviews and from participating in community forums.
- more of a mutual relationship between community and government needed
- positive and negative frames of Stockton University moving into Atlantic City
- the role of young people in social change movements in the city
- hearing a sense of abandonment and distrust from residents
- advocating more for a steady diversified economy
- arts and cultural economy drawing a middle class to the city
- politics of public space
- casino closing and effect on residents; factors contributing to unemployment
- residents tend to have more connections to local than state governments
- “AC built on gambling money” and doesn’t have a stable economic structure
- community events are usually for “tourism” and not for existing residents
- residents use “placemaking” to have a sense of control and reverse the temporariness possessed