Distinguished Sociologist Elijah Anderson Joins Yale Faculty

Elijah Anderson

Elijah Anderson, one of the nation’s most influential scholars in the field of urban inequality, will become the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale University on July 1.

“Professor Anderson is the most respected and accomplished sociologist of the black urban community,” said Yale Provost Andrew D. Hamilton. “We are thrilled that the leading expert in an area of such social and political importance will be conducting his research and teaching at Yale.”

Anderson joins the Yale faculty from the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been the Charles and William L. Day Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology with a secondary appointment in the Wharton School.

The author of the classic work “A Place on the Corner: A Study of Black Street Corner Men” (1978; 2nd ed., 2003), Anderson is regarded by his peers as a prolific and ground-breaking ethnographer of urban life.

“Elijah Anderson has made major substantive and methodological contributions to his field. We’re honored to have this distinguished scholar as an addition to our faculty,” noted Karl Ulrich Mayer, chair of the Yale Department of Sociology.

Before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1975, Anderson had taught at Swarthmore College for two years. At Penn, he was appointed to the Max and Heidi Berry Term Chair in the Social Sciences in 1989 and the Charles and William L. Day Chair in 1991, and to Distinguished Professor in 2001. He served as chair of the undergraduate department of sociology, member of committees to select a Dean for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Dean of the Wharton School and Director of the Afro-American Studies Program.

Anderson received his bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, his master’s at the University of Chicago and his doctorate from Northwestern University, where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Anderson has written and edited numerous articles, books, book chapters and reports on the black experience, including “Of Old Heads and Young Boys: Notes on the Urban Black Experience” (1986), commissioned by the National Research Council’s Committee on the Status of Black Americans; “Sex Codes and Family Life among Inner-City Youth” in the January 1989 issue of Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; and “The Code of the Streets,” which was the cover story in the May 1994 issue of The Atlantic Monthly and in expanded form was published by W.W. Norton as the book “Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City” (1999). Anderson also wrote the introduction to the re-publication of “The Philadelphia Negro,” by W.E.B. DuBois (1996). In the news media, he has written for the New York Times Book Review and appeared on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

In April 2006 he held a conference at Penn titled “Poor, Young, Black and Male: A Case for National Action?” The conference brought together scholars from around the country to examine the plight of young black males living in urban poverty and consider ways to break the cycle that leads to their alienation and the deepening of the nation’s racial divide. Professors William Julius Wilson of Harvard University and Cornel West of Princeton University were among the experts who participated in the conference. His forthcoming edited volume, “Against the Wall: Poor Young Black and Male” (University of Pennsylvania Press) is based on the conference.

Among the awards and honors Anderson has earned are the American Sociological Association’s Robert E. Park Award for his ethnographic study “Streetwise: Race, Class and Change in an Urban Community”; the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania; and the 2000 Komarovsky Award from the Eastern Sociological Association for his book “Code of the Street.” He was also named the Robin M. Williams, Jr., Distinguished Lecturer for 1999–2000 by the Eastern Sociological Society. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Northwestern University.

Anderson has been on the board of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and was vice-president of the American Sociological Association. He has served in an editorial capacity for a wide range of professional journals and special publications in his field, including Qualitative Sociology, Ethnography, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, City & Community and Annals of the Society of Political and Social Science on Ethnography.

He has served as a consultant to a variety of government agencies, including the White House, the United States Congress, the National Academy of Science and the National Science Foundation. He was a member of the National Research Council’s Panel on the Understanding and Control of Violent Behavior, which published its report in 1993, and is director of the Philadelphia Ethnography Project.

Other topics with which he concerns himself are the social psychology of organizations, field methods of social research, social interaction and social organization. At Yale he will teach Urban Ethnography; Field Methods of Social Research; Deviant Behavior and Social Control; Urban Inequality; Urban Sociology; Race and Ethnic Relations; the Ethnography of the African American Community; Managing Diversity in the Workplace; and The Individual and the Organization.