Urban Sociology: Subcultures, Paid Employment, and the Urban Context


After publishing journal articles on the Sociology of Work and Organizations, Education, and Crime, I discovered my greatest sociological passion--the study of cities and communities. I am especially fascinated by urban artistic communities, both past and present, and have utilized the historic constructs of "bourgeois" and "bohemian" to compare and contrast such communities. My first book, Artistic Enclaves in the Post-Industrial City: The Case of Lawrenceville Pittsburgh (Springer, 2017), maintained that Lawrenceville's struggling artists have integrated bourgeois and bohemian practices and values to build a sustainable artistic enclave. I have also studied artistic community life in Philadelphia with the help of Sociology doctoral students Rachel Wildfeuer and Keith McIntosh. Our collaboration lead to a book publication (Springer, 2019) titled Contemporary Bohemia: A Case Study of an Artistic Community in Philadelphia. Our thesis was that Fishtown/Kensington artists have created an "Artistic Bohemian Lifestyle community" that maintains a significant degree of consistency with the traditional bohemian lifestyle, but that is not animated by the anti-bourgeois attitudes that have been foundational to bohemian community life. 

Contemporary Bohemia: A Case Study of an Artistic Community in Philadelphia (2019), was primarily concerned with the lifestyle of artists, but contained a brief section on the neighborhood’s larger hipster community. A few of the artists we interviewed were employed as baristas within specialty coffee shops. I launched the present project primarily because I view the baristas who work in these shops as quintessential members of the hipster subculture, and by studying them, Keith and I could explore a neglected dimension of the existing literature on urban hipsters – the dimension of paid employment as it relates to hipster culture. A third author, Ewa Protasiuk, joined our project because she shared our interest in studying hip coffee shop workers.

Previous research has repeatedly uncovered the existence of urban subcultural lives that were intensely hipster or bohemian but ultimately subject to subcultural diminishment due to the forces of gentrification. To a substantial extent, the subcultural lives of the baristas we investigated have been diminished from the very beginning. For the most part, such diminishment is not the product of their individual failings or of faults or contradictions inherent in their hipster subculture. It is primarily a product of their urban and occupational context.

You can find me on Research Gate and, and on twitter @gmoss54.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Social Statistics
  • Gender in America
  • Hipsters and Bohemians in the Contemporary City