Mary Pattillo Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, Institute for Policy Research Faculty Affiliate

Research Interests:

Urban Sociology
Black Middle Class
Race and Policy


AFAM 215 Introduction to Black Social and Political Life (Fall 2011)
AFAM 365 Black Chicago
AFAM 460 Black Social and Political Thought (Graduate Course)


Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Chicago, 1997
B.A. in Urban Studies, Columbia University


Mary Pattillo's areas of interest include race and ethnicity (specifically the black middle class), urban sociology, and qualitative methods. Pattillo uses the city of Chicago as her laboratory and strives to be an expert in Chicago history, politics, and social life. In her book, Black Picket Fences (University of Chicago Press, 1999), Pattillo investigates the economic, spatial, and cultural forces that affect child-rearing and youth socialization in a black middle class neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Black Picket Fences won the Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association.

Her second book, Black on the Block (University of Chicago Press 2007) focused on gentrification and public housing transformation in North Kenwood - Oakland on Chicago's South Side. The book develops the concept of "middlemen" and "middlewomen," the roles that black professionals play in working alternatively to mediate or exacerbate racial and class inequality. It won the Robert Park Best Book Award and a proclamation of the City of Chicago. Current research projects include a study of how parents negotiate school choice and how families make housing choices in Chicago.

Pattillo is also a member of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Research Network on How Housing Matters for Families and Children. Pattillo is a founding board member and active participant in Urban Prep Charter Academy, the first network of all-boys public charter high schools in Chicago.

Recent Awards:

2008 Robert E. Park Award for Best Book in Community and Urban Sociology from the American Sociological Association

2004 Named Northwestern University Arthur Andersen Research and Teaching Professor

2000 Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award, Racial and Ethnic Minorities Section, American Sociological Association

2000 Outstanding Academic Book Award, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

Recent Book Publications:

Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City , University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration , Mary Pattillo, David Weiman, and Bruce Wester, eds. Russell Sage Foundation Publications, 2004.

Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril among the Black Middle Class , Pattillo-McCoy, Mary. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.