The prestigious appointments give a select group of scholars the opportunity to pursue independent social science investigations in residence at the foundation in New York City during the academic year. A spokesman for the foundation said of the Columbia appointees:
"Their work will constitute an important part of the Russell Sage Foundation's ongoing effort to strengthen social science and to improve its capacity to analyze the shifting nature of social and economic structures in the United States."
Blackmar will write a book on the history of property relations in the United States from 1870 to 1900. It will deal with debates over the rights and duties of property ownership and the emergence of modern conceptions of public accountability and social obligation attached to property.
Her studies cover the disposition of estates within families, the building of community properties such as churches and union halls, conflicts between landholders and developers, methods of regulating neighbors' use of property, and debates over taxing corporations.
Caraley, who is Janet H. Robb Professor of the Social Sciences, will complete a book on the continuing cutbacks in federal aid to cities begun during the Carter Administration.
His study will describe the policy processes and voting behavior that increased cutbacks during the Reagan and Bush years and have thwarted attempts at reversal under Clinton. It will dispute the ability of state and local governments with meager taxable resources to finance remedies for beleaguered cities and will argue the need for federal assistance to the urban poor who make up a permanent political minority.
Newman will complete her book on the lives of low-wage service workers in the major urban ghettos of Harlem and Oakland. Her studies find that employed ghetto dwellers interact in two different worlds: the poor neighborhoods where they live, and the workplace where they mingle with people from more affluent areas. She examines the social and cultural consequences of going to work while residing in communities with high unemployment. And she focuses on how workers navigate the "social gantlet" of harassment offered by nonworking peers disdainful of low status jobs and how their assimilation into a work-based mainstream influences personal aspirations and boosts the economic stability of many families.
Thompson, who is also an assistant professor of public and non-profit management at Columbia Business School, will work on a book that reassesses the gains made in black politics by recent successes in mayoral elections.
His studies analyze the political logic and key policy decisions of black mayors and pinpoint some negative repercussions, such as their trend toward a liberal rather than progressive political philosophy and the decline in broader political participation and collective action among blacks. During his year at the foundation, he will also study how social relationships and social resources can foster educational achievements and economic stability among families in poor neighborhoods.