Mary Pattillo is the Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies as well as the Faculty Affiliate for the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. She studies race and ethnicity, specifically focusing on the black middle class, as well as urban sociology, and qualitative methods. She received her doctorate degree from the University of Chicago.
Pattillo conducts much of her research in Chicago, studying the city’s history, politics, and social life to lay the foundation for her work. One of Patillo’s publications includes the book Black Picket Fences in which she investigates the economic spatial, and cultural influences that impact child-rearing and youth socialization in Chicago’s South Side, black middle class neighborhoods. The book earned her the Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award through the American Sociological Association.
In addition to her book, she has also published scholarly articles in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Ethinic and Racial Studies, and other reputable journals. She also helped co-edit the book Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration. Her most recent book highlights the the interaction between the construction of low-income housing and gentrification in Chicago and is titled, Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City.
In the following video, Pattillo discusses the often forgotten topic of the black middle class, discussing the history of conflict between poor and middle class blacks and how the election of President Barack Obama has changed the way people discuss the black middle class. Patillo is one of the leading sociological experts on race and class in America, and her commentary is timely and relevant.