Frederick Wherry, PhD in Sociology from Princeton University, is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is both a cultural sociologist who researches markets, as well as an economic sociologist who examines the motivating meanings in and from the market place. He has studied markets in Thailand, Costa Rica, and Philadelphia to better understand how cultural identity affects and improves opportunities within the global and local contexts.
In this book, Wherry holds that community stakeholders (local residents) can transform their neighborhoods through creativity and sweat equity, thus enhancing a neighborhood’s economic vitality and symbolic reputation/distinction (Bourdieu, 1989). The neighborhood in this case is Philadelphia’s Centro de Oro, or as was known from the mid-80s, “the Badlands,” a neighborhood beset by media’s binary narrative of “problem solvers” or “trouble makers” since the mid-80s. These nonmaterial constraints helped negatively shape not just how outsiders perceived the neighborhood, but how the neighborhood perceived itself. “Theirs is the story of how arts and culture contribute to neighborhood change” (21).