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Harvey Molotch Publications


Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing

(edited with Laura Noren).

New York University Press, Fall 2010.

So much happens in the public toilet that we never talk about. Finding the right door, waiting in line, and using the facilities are often undertaken with trepidation. Don't touch anything. Try not to smell. Avoid eye contact. And for men, don't look down or let your eyes stray. Even washing one's hands are tied to anxieties of disgust and humiliation. And yet other things also happen in these spaces: babies are changed, conversations are had, make-up is applied, and notes are scrawled for posterity.

Beyond these private issues, there are also real public concerns: problems of public access, ecological waste, and—in many parts of the world--sanitation crises. At public events, why are women constantly waiting in long lines but not men? Where do the homeless go when cities decide to close public sites? Should bathrooms become standardized to accommodate the disabled? Is it possible to create a unisex bathroom for transgendered people?

In Toilet, noted sociologist Harvey Molotch and Laura Norén bring together twelve essays by urbanists, historians and cultural analysts (among others) to shed light on the public restroom. These noted scholars offer an assessment of our historical and contemporary practices, showing us the intricate mechanisms through which even the physical design of restrooms—the configurations of stalls, the number of urinals, the placement of sinks, and the continuing segregation of women's and men's bathrooms—reflect and sustain our cultural attitudes towards gender, class, and disability. Based on a broad range of conceptual, political, and down-to-earth viewpoints, the original essays in this volume show how the bathroom—as a practical matter--reveals competing visions of pollution, danger and distinction.

Although what happens in the toilet usually stays in the toilet, this brilliant, revelatory, and often funny book aims to bring it all out into the open, proving that profound and meaningful history can be made even in the can.

Contributors: Ruth Barcan, Irus Braverman, Mary Ann Case, Olga Gershenson, Clara Greed, Zena Kamash,Terry Kogan, Harvey Molotch, Laura Norén, Barbara Penner, and David Serlin.

ISBN-10: 0814795897
: 978-0814795897

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Where Stuff Comes From

How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are

New York and London: Routledge, 2003.

The complicated, dynamic relationships between inventor, society, corporation, regulator, shopkeeper, community, family and customer is terrifically laid out by UC Santa Barbara and New York University sociologist Molotch in this persuasive monograph. Myriad links, he argues, ultimately produce and constantly change what we want, buy, keep and throw away; thus, neither consumers nor producers are to be blamed for our numerous possessions, since these items and constituencies all "lash-up" with one another, creating and reinforcing lifestyles and needs. Molotch's paradigmatic toaster requires an electric socket, bread and butter or jam to be useful. Adherence to "type-form"-modern or retro styling, color options to match kitchens, and knobs and controls for different functions-provides opportunities for the small appliance's owner to mark his/her identity and associate feelings with it, removing the object from the realm of the mundane. Manufacturing techniques, marketing, retail display and ultimate disposal also play large roles. The importance of all these factors is well argued, but despite the subtitle, no specific products (even the vaunted toaster, mentioned throughout and depicted graphically in the header) are studied in sustained or thorough enough detail to satisfactorily explain their continued forms or popularity-perhaps to avoid accusations of product placement. Even so, Molotch's description of systemic person-product complexes could work to end blame-the-consumer guilt-mongering in the popular discourse.

  • Italian edition, Fenomenologia del Tostapane: Come gli oggetti quotidiani diventano quello che sono. Fall, 2005 Milano: Cortina.
  • Korean edition, 2007. Seoul: Hyunsil Cultural Studies.
  • Turkish edition, forthcoming.

ISBN-10: 0415950422
ISBN-13: 978-0415950428

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Building Rules

How Local Controls Shape Community, Environments and Economies

(with Kee Warner).

Boulder: Westview, Fall 1999; paper, 2001.

Urban and suburban growth is a burning local issue for communities across the United States and many other parts of the world. Concerns include protecting habitats, high costs of infrastructure, social inequalities, traffic congestion and more intangible worries about ”quality of life.” Citizens pressure public officials to intensify development regulations, flying in the face of local ”growth machines.” Builders and growth boosters oppose regulation as unfair and bad for local economies. Based on a systematic comparative study of urban areas in Southern California, this book provides a much-needed examination of the true impacts of local development controls, including the ways that they have and have not made a difference. The authors draw general implications for communities elsewhere and how to better understand theories of growth and urban governance.

ISBN-10: 0813339235
ISBN-13: 978-0813339238


Scientists as Disaster Warning Systems

(with Lee Clarke)

Risk and Regulation: CARR Review, Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation (LSE) No. 19 (summer) 2010, pp 12-14.

Changing Art: SoHo, Chelsea and the Dynamic Geography of Galleries in New York City

(with Mark Treskon)

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Volume 33.2 June 2009 517–41

Tanulmány a sloziról.

Café Bábel 59:121-127 (2009). (translated from the Hungarian by Orsolya Serkedi).

Things at Work: Informal social-material mechanisms for getting the job done

(with Noah McClain)

Journal Of Consumer Culture, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 35-67, March 2008

“Death on the Roof” Social Science Research Council Website

Adapted for Space and Culture, vol. 9, 1 Feb 2006: 31-34.

Reprinted in Elizabeth Higginbotham and Margaret Andersen, Race and Ethnicity in Society (2nd ed.) Wadsworth (Thomson), 2009.

“Dealing with Urban Terror: Heritages of Control, Varieties of Intervention, Strategies of Research”

(with Noah McClain)

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 27 (3) 2003: 679-98.

“Place in Product”

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 26 (4) 2002: 665-88           

Translated and published in Spanish: “El lugar en los productos” Aapuntes de investigacion, CECY, Vol. 15 July 2009:11--47.

“Data Happen, But How?”

(with William Freudenburg and Krista Paulsen)

American Sociological Review, vol. 67 (December: 917-924) 2002.

“History Repeats Itself, but How?: City Character, Urban Tradition, and the Accomplishment of Place”

(with William Freudenburg and Krista Paulsen)

American Sociological Review, vol. 65 (December: 791-823) 2000.

Reprinted in W. Allen Martin (ed.), Urban Community Readings. Prentice-Hall, forthcoming.

“Talking City Trouble: Interactional Vandalism, Social Inequality, and the Urban Interaction Problem"

(with Mitchell Duneier)

American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 104 no. 5 (March 1999): 1263-95.

Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing

Where Stuff Comes From

Building Rules: How Local Controls Shape Community
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