The chapter introduces the book’s central questions: How do residents of a racially and economically mixed neighborhood make sense of and live with diversity? How do neighborhoods shape the perceptions, behaviors and opportunities of residents? It reviews the harms of residential economic and racial segregation and discusses the paradoxes of integration. While integration holds promise for bridging social divides and reducing inequality, the tensions and conflicts associated with diversity pose challenges to community engagement, order and stability. This book begins to fill gaps in our understanding of integration through an ethnographic exploration of how residents of a diverse neighborhood make sense of their local experiences and negotiate difference. The chapter previews a place-sensitive analysis that focuses on Riverwest’s geographic location, material form and investment with meaning (i.e. culture). It closes with a description of the author’s approach to participant observation and an overview of the chapters.
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