William Kornblum

William Kornblum faculty photo

Research Interests

  • Ethnography
  • Urban Sociology

William Kornblum is a specialist in urban sociology and human ecology. The author of numerous scholarly books and articles on the people of New York, he has been mentoring doctoral students at the Graduate Center since 1973. He was the 2005 recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Career Award.
Kornblum is currently revising a manuscript about jazz in 1920s Chicago and is developing another about homelessness and urban development in Manhattan’s Midtown, a subject he has been following since his study West 42nd Street, The Bright Lights appeared in 1979. Kornblum’s first ethnographic community study was Blue Collar Community (1974). In 2012 he published a monograph on Jamaica Bay and its communities for the U.S. Department of Interior and assisted the Central Park Conservancy in a comprehensive, community-based study of public use in the park.
In collaboration with Terry Williams, of the New School for Social Research, he has also written extensively about urban teenagers. Their books, Growing Up Poor (1985) and Uptown Kids (1995), and numerous articles document the importance of adult mentors and the influence that writing workshops can have on the lives of disadvantaged teenagers. Uptown Kids was made into an HBO film, Harlem Diary, in 1997. A Japanese translation appeared in 2010. Kornblum is also the author of Sociology in a Changing World (9th ed.), Social Problems (14th ed.), and At Sea in the City: New York from the Water’s Edge (2002). A native New Yorker, he is a graduate of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and the University of Chicago and was among the nation’s first Peace Corps volunteers.