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The Big Sort: Essential Reading for Aspiring Urbanists

The Big Sort: Essential Reading for Aspiring Urbanists

Sharing with contemporary masterpieces such as Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone or David’s Brook’s 2004 publication of On Paradise Drive, The Big Sort – written by Bill Bishop in 2009 – delivers a critical examination of the nature of contemporary American political culture. The idea for the book originated in 2002 when Bishop became interested in researching why certain

by Geoff Bliss July 5, 2013 3 comments

The Big Sort Book cover

Sharing with contemporary masterpieces such as Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone or David’s Brook’s 2004 publication of On Paradise Drive, The Big Sort – written by Bill Bishop in 2009 – delivers a critical examination of the nature of contemporary American political culture.

The idea for the book originated in 2002 when Bishop became interested in researching why certain communities were able to become economically prosperous while others stagnated. Bishop, having worked as a Reporter at the Austin American Statesmen, began collaborating with Sociologist Robert Cushing, a now retired Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Their work would quickly attract other experts including Richard Florida, Kevin Stolarick and Gary Gates, who supported in an extraordinary find. As Bishop writes, “Everyone in our group found movements that were dizzying and profound. We could see that distinct migratory systems were reshaping regional economies.” In many ways, the correlation between these systems develops into a truly interesting read – supported through a sustained and well-developed argument in subsequent chapters.

Mr. Bishop provides readers with detailed evidence spanning back two centuries. The book is guided through journalistic excellence, which meritoriously illustrates countless events in American History. As readers will learn, this history has been motivated through simultaneous migrations of populations, ideas, culture and values, which in many ways have reshaped the American political consciousness to become ever more fragmented and reactionary.

1976 Politics Before the Sort

2004 Politics After the Sort

Perhaps most stimulating about the book is how it approaches American Democratic History. Through investigating intersections of Social Theory, Social Psychology, Economics and Culture, the book provides a stirring depiction of the current socio-economic division, which continues to grow in America. From the rise of Religious Conservatism to the growth of Tech Cities and Mega Churches, this book uncovers many significant consequences of thinking alike – and staying alike.

At 313 pages with four sections, The Big Sort is rich in its use of language, delivering detailed infographics and maps that share a unique perspective sure to entertain new and lifelong readers in Geography and Urban Planning.

Where can you find your place in The Big Sort? How is it evident within your personal social network and local social media?

Want a FREE copy of “The Big Sort” by Bill Bishop? The Grid is giving away two FREE books to two lucky winners. Follow the link to the giveaway for a chance to win your free copy.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Geoff Bliss grew up in Woodstock, New York and will soon graduate from the Master of Community Planning program at the University of Cincinnati with a focus in Physical Planning. He holds a B.S. in Applied Arts & Science from the Rochester Instit...

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