By Chris Rhomberg
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Additional info for No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland
Clustered near the rail lines were various processing industries, including textile mills for cotton and jute and numerous fruit and vegetable canneries, each giving seasonal employment to hundreds of men, women, and children. 6 Alongside industrial development came population growth. The city experienced a huge increase in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, as an estimated 65,000 refugees settled permanently in the comparatively undamaged East Bay. The massive relocation following the quake transformed the local economy and stimulated the construction of many new residential districts in Oakland and its surrounding areas.
59 Putnam’s model implicitly recalls the older sociological theory of social disorganization, in which individuals’ atomization leads to anomic dysfunctions and the failure to integrate into a consensual civic culture. Correspondingly, his programmatic stress falls on the education and socialization of individuals, not on the structural forces that unequally distribute resources and actively produce disorganization, or on the institutional barriers that discourage participation and disempower certain groups.
And in 1950, a former West Oakland native reminisced, “laborer, mechanic, business or professional man, all were neighbors. No class lines were drawn. No poverty, no bread lines, and few wealthy people. ”34 As a political institution, the machine may have succeeded in bringing order and managing the conﬂicts caused by the rapid socioeconomic development of the city. In the long run, however, the system of ethnic patronage was incapable of sustaining an urban community. Beyond access to jobs, patronage at best offered meager protections for most workers and their families.