Primary Source Essay-Grimshaw S Urban Racial Violence In The United States |

Primary Source Essay-Grimshaw s Urban Racial Violence in the United States

Primary Source Essay: Grimshaw's Urban Racial Violence in the United States
October 22, 2014
This paper presents an interpretation of Allen Grimshaw’s twentieth century publication,
Urban Violence in the United States Changing Ecological Considerations.
This work was
written in the post-World War II era, the year 1960, a time when the United States was
experiencing significant changes in social constructs.
The article was published in the American
Journal of Sociology by the University of Chicago Press. The author was an affiliate of Indiana
University, which implies that the article was a scholarly initiative. Around the time the article
was written, it is evident that the language used to refer to certain races in the U.S. differed from
what is experienced today. The author consistently uses the term Negros to represent the modern
day African American race. In his article, Grimshaw sought to explore changes that were being
experienced in urban violence in the United States amid changing ecological factors, and future
Following specific observations in patterns in urban violence through slightly beyond the
first half of the twentieth century, Grimshaw set out to address three key issues in his study. The
Negro population in urban areas was increasing as a result of changes in the social structure
towards being more accommodative. Grimshaw noted that these changes were coupled with
strains on existing ecological patterns, leading to violence. The author divided the period
between the dawn of the twentieth century and the time of writing the work, 1960, into three
periods. The periods included World War I era, post-World War II era and beyond 1960. This
division helped him structure his argument in a way that illustrates the changes that occurred.
Further, Grimshaw aligned the three research questions along these periods to help maintain
focus. The first question was to find out whether the patterns of urban racial violence and
Allen D. Grimshaw. Urban Violence in the United States Changing Ecological Considerations.
American Journal of Sociology 66, no. 2 (1960): 109-119.
Grimshaw Urban Violence in the United States Changing Ecological Considerations
specific expressions differed among different ecological areas before 1944. The second question
attempted to establish whether the country had experienced any changes in urban racial violence
in the post-World War II period, up to about 1960. Finally, the third question sought to establish
whether it was possible to predict the future of racial social violence. This structure leads
Grimshaw to an organized presentation that is easy to follow and comprehend.
Right from the outset of the paper, Grimshaw brings out the wide social divide that
existed in the American society for the period covered in the study. This divide forms the
foundation of Grimshaw’s work. Despite the existence of other races in the United States during
the period studied, the author focused on two races only, Negros and whites. The topic of the
article, however, has the impression of generalization of all the races in the United States. The
research questions also seem to take a generalized approach. This observation can have a number
of implications. First, it probably reflects the nature of the writing culture at the time. Second,
urban violence in the United States during the period covered might have been a two-race fight
between whites and Negros. Finally, the patterns exhibited by other races may have been
insignificant to influence the overall picture in the view of the author. The focus on two races
helps maintain focus throughout the article. It also simplifies the flow, structure and presentation
of the topic.
Grimshaw remains impartial in his presentation by basing arguments on data and
observations from real world events. The author cites data from various sources, including
statistics on previous riots to support his argument. For instance, Grimshaw notes the reported
figures on deaths and other variables in the 1919 Chicago riot as well as the 1943 disturbance in
Detroit. An impartial position helps Grimshaw build credibility and cultivate trust in readers.
This perspective also implies that the conclusions made following the findings of the study are
free from personal bias. Such results are reliable and are more likely to represent the actual
course of events under study.
Key points building towards the theme of the topic of study in the article are organized
under several sections and subsections. All the points presented in the work can be categorized
under one of the three periods identified early in this paper. The general structure of the article
follows these three sections. Grimshaw examined seven types of ecological areas in an attempt to
explain patterns in urban violence in the United States in the period up to 1943. These areas
represented all the regions of the United States, although Grimshaw noted that on the contrary,
the violence did not affect every city in the country. These categories are used to gauge
similarities and differences in urban violence across the United States during the first period. The
seven ecological categories include the following:
i. Negro residential areas with no or a minimum number of, business establishments
ii. White high-class residential neighborhoods
iii. Negro slums
iv. “Stable” mixed neighborhoods
v. Contested areas
vi. White-dominated areas not contested by negroes
vii. White-dominated central business districts
With the exception of riot cases in the southern and northern urban areas, Grimshaw
observed that there were significant similarities in the nature of urban violence across the
ecological categories. In summary, physical violence in these areas prior to 1944 was
Grimshaw Urban Violence in the United States Changing Ecological Considerations
characterized by mobs of one race upon isolated members of the other. During this period,
Grimshaw observed that police forces acted partially and in favor of whites.
The second period covers patterns in urban violence through World War II and in the
post-world war era. In this era, Grimshaw explores how urban violence in the period differed
from that of the prior period. He found that there were significant differences in Negro-white
conflicts between the two periods. The conflicts in post-World War II were more coordinated
and autonomous, transforming into a movement. Grimshaw observed that local leaders had
joined the movement. Unlike in the previous scenarios, the post-World War II era experienced
increased demonstrations from students and the youth, with the latter not being labeled
“hoodlums” as in similar prior occasions. Finally, Grimshaw observed that the Negro
participants in the movement exercised restraint unlike before when they would respond with
violence. In event of this revolution, police forces acted impartially in their approach to dealing
with the conflict.
In the final period covered in the study, Grimshaw explored the possibility of predicting
the future of urban violence and Negro-white conflicts in the United States. The rise in tensions
due to demands for a more accommodative structure by the Negro community, together with
shifts in ecological areas of violence cast uncertainty regarding the status of such conflicts in
future. To make reliable predictions, the author argued that it was necessary to have adequate
information regarding major variables on the two trends of urban violence and ecological factors.
Grimshaw, however, acknowledged that there had been significant changes in the nature of
urban violence and in the ecological considerations that would have major implications for the
The author was able to illustrate the face of urban violence amid changing ecological
considerations in the U.S. His conclusions indicate that he was also able to provide answers to
the three research questions. However, Grimshaw found that it was difficult to provide a reliable
forecast on urban violence and ecological factors in the absence of sufficient information
regarding the two sociological aspects. Even so, the researcher achieved the objectives of the
study in an effective manner.
Grimshaw, D. Allen. Urban Violence in the United States Changing Ecological Considerations.
American Journal of Sociology 66, no. 2 (1960): 109-119.

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