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Gottdiener to teach in Shanghai


Published May 16, 2013

UB sociologist Mark Gottdiener, a world-class scholar and recipient of numerous major awards and distinctions for outstanding contributions to his field, is on the move again.

A professor in the Department of Sociology, Gottdiener has been invited to teach urban sociology at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, one of the world’s most highly ranked universities, for six weeks beginning July 1.

He plans to teach his course using his perennially popular 1994 textbook, “New Urban Sociology,” now being revised for its fifth edition. It was translated into Chinese four years ago by Huang Yi, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University.

He also has been invited by the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai to address a select audience interested in issues of urbanization.

As for Shanghai itself, Gottdiener says that “As an urbanist, I could not ask for a better place to be.”

 “I’ve studied and written about the development of many urban centers, but Shanghai, the Chinese equivalent of New York City, is considered by many to be the greatest city in the world,” he says.

“It has a population of more than 20 million, one-third of them non-Chinese, and is a rapidly growing metropolitan region famous for its innovation in technology, academics and culture. Of course the food, film, music and culture, I am told, are spectacular. Having six weeks to explore is, for me, an exceptional opportunity.

 “I will be fully supported with a generous salary, hotel accommodation, a research assistant and air fare,” Gottdiener says, adding that his wife Jennifer, recently retired director of articulation services at UB, will accompany him to Shanghai and later, on a “spiritual and cultural” visit to Tibet to visit several Lhasa monasteries.

Gottdiener is a founder of what is frequently referred to as “the new urban sociology,” a field that considers the rise and fall of cities and regions, their class-shaped patterns of capitalistic urban development, real estate manipulations and their symbolic dimensions.

He also developed a new urban paradigm that focuses on such things as cultural semiotics and popular culture, and how cultural issues are related to social problems. He has written 14 books on these subjects. Much of this cutting edge research is presented for undergraduates in the book he will use in Shanghai this summer.

One of the nation’s leading urban sociologists, Gottdiener is the recipient of the 2010-11 Robert and Helen Lynd Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished career achievements in community and urban sociology from the American Sociological Association (ASA).

The Lynd award, one of the most notable awards presented by the ASA, is one of many honors received by Gottdiener during his career, among them a number of international visiting scholar positions (three in 2007 alone), a special session of the Eastern Sociological Society’ annual meeting and several distinguished lectureships and fellowships, including two Fulbrights.