Metro Richmond Paper

LENGTH: 7-8 pages
DUE DATE: Monday, September 28, at 8 a.m.

ASSESSMENT: Metro Richmond Paper Rubric

This paper puts into practice the quantitative and qualitative policy analysis we will be working with all semester long.  It will also give you the opportunity to become more familiar with Highland Park and the greater Richmond metropolitan area, and apply the concepts we have studied so far.  You will also get to practice integrating academic theories with the statistical data found in Social Explorer and the qualitative evidence from your CBL observations.


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a “ghetto” is “a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live,” especially if residence in that area is driven by “social, legal, or economic pressure.”  In medieval Europe, “ghetto” referred to a Jewish quarter, but in modern times, the term applies to any racial or ethnic enclave.  But a “ghetto” does not have to be a place.  It can also refer to a situation of social isolation, especially if it “confers inferior status or limits opportunity” – for instance, “the pink-collar ghetto.”

Up to this point in the semester, we have read a number of authors — Loic Wacquant, Peter Dreier and his colleagues, John Moesser, and William Julius Wilson – who argue that “ghettos” are alive and well in the United States, though they don’t always agree on what a “ghetto” is or what it signifies.  Their critics (mostly conservative or rational choice theorists) argue that, with the advent of fair housing laws, people live where they can afford and want to live and housing discrimination is banned, so ghettos can hardly exist in contemporary America.  And yet others, namely Mary Pattillo, suggest that the metropolitan landscape is more complex than simply “ghettos” and good neighborhoods, and they call attention to the existence of “buffer” or transitional neighborhoods.

For this paper, you will wade into this debate.  Take Highland Park in the Northside of Richmond, Virginia.  Is Highland Park a ghetto?  Why, or why not?

To answer this question, you must first define “ghetto” for yourself and then apply that concept to Highland Park.  In doing so, draw from and demonstrate your knowledge of the course readings.  Then support your assertions with empirical evidence taken from:

  • Your observations made on the Highland Park Tour and your CBL observations to date (which may be limited at this point)
  • The observations your colleagues posted to the course website
  • The data available from sources on the course website’s RESEARCH page under the banner “For Metro Richmond” and, if appropriate, “For Employment and Family Life.”

You can also draw from the evidence provided in our first Data Presentation on Work and Family Life, which is posted under COMMUNITY PROFILES.

While the question posed to you focuses on Highland Park, you might need to examine the community in the context of the broader metropolitan area by, for example, comparing it to other areas of the metro region that are not “ghetto.”

Paper Format

Cite your sources using footnotes or in-text parenthetical citation following the Chicago (Turabian) Manual of Style.  Refer to UR Boatwright Library’s on-line citation guide for guidance on how to format your citations.  Hint: Google Scholar also automatically formats citations.

If you are using visual aids like maps or tables, you can place those in-text or at the end of your paper.  These visual aids do not count toward the page limit.

If you are going to use maps and tables or other figures, make sure they are comprehensible and integrated into the paper rather than tacked on.  I have a handy checklist that helps with this:

  • In the text, it is clear to the reader which figure or table you are referring to when you talk about the evidence in the figure or table?
  • If you place a table or figure in your paper, do you interpret it for the reader in the text of the paper?  (Figures and tables do not speak for themselves.)
  • Do you number your figures and tables and give them clear and appropriate titles?
  • If you are using a map, do you make clear to the reader the area (such as Highland Park) that is relevant to the analysis?
  • Does your map have a legend?
  • Do you cite the source for your map, figure, or table (e.g., Social Explorer, City-Data, American FactFinder, and so forth)?

Your paper should be 7-8 pages in length, typed and double-spaced with standard fonts and margins.  You can include visual material either in text or in an appendix at the end of the paper.  Page counts do not include any visual aids, such as tables or maps that you place in-text, your title page (if any), or your reference or works cited page.

I like to grade papers blind, so do not put your name on your paper, only your URID number.

Uploading the Paper

When you are ready to hand in your paper, go to Blackboard.  You’ll see a button on the left side called ASSIGNMENTS.  Click on it, and you’ll then see an icon for the Metro Richmond paper.  Click on the icon, and the page to upload the assignment will open.  Attach the assignment as a Word, PDF, or Pages file.  I can read any of these kinds of files, though my computer has an easier time making comments on Word.

When you successfully upload your paper, you should get a confirmation screen.  If you don’t, don’t panic.  You are welcome to email the paper to me at to ensure I receive it.

I have set Blackboard so that you can upload as many versions of your paper as you want.  So if you upload the wrong draft, don’t worry.  Just upload the correct one.  I will grade the most recent one received prior to the deadline.

When I am done with grading all the papers, I will return your papers through Blackboard and let you know the completed papers are posted.


There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  I will be assessing this paper according to how persuasive you are, how well written and articulate the paper is, and how well you draw upon our authors and evidence to make your case.  For an explanation of how I assess papers as well as general rules of advice, see the handout “How To Write an ‘A’ Paper” and the Writing Rubric, available under the WRITING banner.

Header Image: The rooftops of Church Hill