Do fences make the best neighbors?

Do fences make the best neighbors? In our cover story, Zaire Dinzey-Flores takes us to Puerto Rico, where the island’s gated communities sort and segregate people. The privileged gates of one community offer secure, privatized streets and sidewalks, while police forces monitor the movements of impoverished residents in a nearby neighborhood.

But you don’t need a gate to separate the rich from the poor, the dark-skinned from light-skinned residents. As sociologists who converged on New York City last August saw firsthand, in many cities like New York, the barriers are more likely to be rooted in economic and cultural inequalities—and fears of the stranger, as Zygmunt Bauman reminds us.

John Bateson takes us to a different gate: San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge—one of the world’s most popular suicide staging areas—and looks at why so little has been done to enact simple safeguards that could prevent suicide. And Viewpoints debates the future of racial preferences as a gateway to admission in higher education following the recent Supreme Court decision.

Also, Hilary Levey Friedman takes us to school soccer fields where parents encourage competition as a way to groom their daughters for membership in tomorrow’s corporate elite. Rebecca Tiger considers how media framed the stories of two fallen heroes—Whitney Houston and Lance Armstrong—and how, when it comes to reporting celebrity drug stories, double standards of race, class and gender rule.

There’s a lot more in these pages to whet your sociological appetite. Interviewing middle-class young people working in chain stores, Yasemin Besen-Cassino explores the lure of low-paying jobs. Shari Dworkin discusses the links between HIV and gender violence in South Africa with one activist who is making a difference. Alice Marwick tells us what’s up with grumpy cat and other digital memes, and other pieces consider documentary films, zombies, personal and professional conflicts, and “concerned photography” on the streets of New York.

And just when we were ready to celebrate the dismantling of yet another kind of gate, the constitutional barrier to marriage equality, Suzanna Walters cautions us to hold off on the champagne!

We hope this issue provides you with much to reflect upon and enjoy.