Architecture for the Poor describes Hassan Fathy's plan for building the village of New Gourna, near Luxor, Egypt, without the use of more modern and expensive materials such as steel and concrete. Using mud bricks, the native technique that Fathy learned in Nubia, and such traditional Egyptian architectural designs as enclosed courtyards and vaulted roofing, Fathy worked with the villagers to tailor his designs to their needs. He taught them how to work with the bricks, supervised the erection of the buildings, and encouraged the revival of such ancient crafts as claustra (lattice designs in the mudwork) to adorn the buildings.
Over the past three decades, average household wealth in the United States has declined among all but the richest families, with a near 80 percent drop among the nation's poorest families. Although the national debate about inequality has focused on income, it is wealth—the private assets amassed and passed on within families—that provides the extra economic cushion needed to move beyond mere day-to-day survival. Assets for the Poor is the first full-scale investigation into the importance of family wealth and the need for policies to encourage asset-building among the poor. Assets for the Poor shows how institutional mechanisms designed to encourage acquisition of capital and property favor middle-class and high-income families. For example, the aggregate value of home mortgage tax deductions far outweighs the dollar amount of the subsidies provided by Section 8 rental vouchers and public housing. Banking definitions of creditworthiness largely exclude minorities, and welfare rules have made it nearly impossible for single mothers to accumulate savings, let alone stocks or real estate. Due to persistent residential segregation, even those minority families who do own homes are often denied equal access to better schools and public services. The research in this volume shows that the poor do make use of the assets they have. Cash gifts—although small in size—are frequent within families and often lead to such positive results as homebuying and debt reduction, while tangible assets such as tools and cars help increase employment prospects. Assets for the Poor examines policies such as Individual Development Account tax subsidies to reward financial savings among the poor, and more liberal credit rules to make borrowing easier and less costly. The contributors also offer thoughtful advice for bringing the poor into mainstream savings institutions and warn against developing asset building policies at the expense of existing safety net programs. Asset-building for low-income families is a powerful idea that offers hope to families searching for a way out of poverty. Assets for the Poor challenges current thinking regarding poverty reduction policies and proposes a major shift in the way we think about families and how they make a better life. A Volume in the Ford Foundation Series on Asset Building
In 1965, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan—then a high-ranking official in the Department of Labor—sparked a firestorm when he released his report “The Negro Family,” which came to be regarded by both supporters and detractors as an indictment of African American culture. Blaming the Poor examines the regrettably durable impact of the Moynihan Report for race relations and social policy in America, challenging the humiliating image the report cast on poor black families and its misleading explanation of the causes of poverty.
A leading authority on poverty and racism in the United States, Susan D. Greenbaum dismantles Moynihan’s main thesis—that the so called matriarchal structure of the African American family “feminized” black men, making them inadequate workers and absent fathers, and resulting in what he called a tangle of pathology that led to a host of ills, from teen pregnancy to adult crime. Drawing on extensive scholarship, Greenbaum highlights the flaws in Moynihan’s analysis. She reveals how his questionable ideas have been used to redirect blame for substandard schools, low wages, and the scarcity of jobs away from the societal forces that cause these problems, while simultaneously reinforcing stereotypes about African Americans. Greenbaum also critiques current policy issues that are directly affected by the tangle of pathology mindset—the demonization and destruction of public housing; the criminalization of black youth; and the continued humiliation of the poor by entrepreneurs who become rich consulting to teachers, non-profits, and social service personnel.
A half century later, Moynihan’s thesis remains for many a convenient justification for punitive measures and stingy indifference to the poor. Blaming the Poor debunks this infamous thesis, proposing instead more productive and humane policies to address the enormous problems facing us today.
A spiritual revolution is transforming the religious landscape of Latin America. Evangelical Protestantism, particularly Pentecostalism, has replaced Catholicism as the leading religion in thousands of barrios on the urban periphery. But in few Latin American nations have Protestants multiplied as rapidly as in Brazil. What accounts for this rise? Combining historical, political, and ethnographic research, R. Andrew Chestnut shows that the relationship between faith healing and illness in the conversion process is integral to the popularity of Pentecostalism among Brazil's poor. He augments his analysis of the economic and political factors with extensive interview material to capture his informants' conversion experience. In doing so, he presents both a historical framework for a broad understanding of Pentecostalism in Latin America and insight into the personal motivations and beliefs of the crentes themselves.
Both Hands Tied studies the working poor in the United States, focusing in particular on the relation between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. Grounded in the experience of thirty-three women living in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, it tells the story of their struggle to balance child care and wage-earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jobs with inflexible schedules—and the moments when these jobs failed them and they turned to the state for additional aid.
Jane L. Collins and Victoria Mayer here examine the situations of these women in light of the 1996 national Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and other like-minded reforms—laws that ended the entitlement to welfare for those in need and provided an incentive for them to return to work. Arguing that this reform came at a time of gendered change in the labor force and profound shifts in the responsibilities of family, firms, and the state, Both Hands Tied provides a stark but poignant portrait of how welfare reform afflicted poor, single-parent families, ultimately eroding the participants’ economic rights and affecting their ability to care for themselves and their children.
In Santiago's urban shantytowns, a searing history of poverty and Chilean state violence have prompted grassroots resistance movements among the poor and working class from the 1940s to the present. Underscoring this complex continuity, Alison J. Bruey offers a compelling history of the struggle for social justice and democracy during the Pinochet dictatorship and its aftermath.
As Bruey shows, crucial to the popular movement built in the 1970s were the activism of both men and women and the coalition forged by liberation-theology Catholics and Marxist-Left militants. These alliances made possible the mass protests of the 1980s that paved the way for Chile's return to democracy, but the changes fell short of many activists' hopes. Their grassroots demands for human rights encompassed not just an end to state terror but an embrace of economic opportunity and participatory democracy for all.
Deeply grounded by both extensive oral history interviews and archival research, Bread, Justice, and Liberty offers innovative contributions to scholarship on Chilean history, social movements, popular protest and democratization, neoliberal economics, and the Cold War in Latin America.
In a rich and engaging book that illuminates the lives and attitudes of peasants in preindustrial Europe, Piero Camporesi makes the unexpected and fascinating claim that these people lived in a state of almost permanent hallucination, drugged by their very hunger or by bread adulterated with hallucinogenic herbs. The use of opiate products, administered even to infants and children, was widespread and was linked to a popular mythology in which herbalists and exorcists were important cultural figures. Through a careful reconstruction of the everyday lives of peasants, beggars, and the poor, Camporesi presents a vivid and disconcerting image of early modern Europe as a vast laboratory of dreams.
"Camporesi is as much a poet as a historian. . . . His appeal is to the senses as well as to the mind. . . . Fascinating in its details and compelling in its overall message."—Vivian Nutton, Times Literary Supplement
"It is not often that an academic monograph in history is also a book to fascinate the discriminating general reader. Bread of Dreams is just that."—Kenneth McNaught, Toronto Star
"Not religion but bread was the opiate of the poor, Mr. Camporesi argues. . . . Food has always been a social and mythological construct that conditions what we vainly imagine to be matters of personal taste. Our hunger for such works should tell us that food is not only good but essential to think and to read as if our lives depended on it, which they do."—Betty Fussell, New York Times Book Review
Barend A. de Vries, a distinguished international economist, examines the economic roots of poverty, the actions that can be taken to eradicate it, and the ethical case for integrating the poor into the mainstream of society.
De Vries applies Judeo-Christian ethics—in particular, the values of social justice and compassion for the poor—to the problem of poverty in both the United States and in developing countries. Bringing together the insights of economics and ethicists, he considers both the economic feasibility of religious views regarding the eradication of poverty and the ethical aspects of economic programs. He analyzes the poverty of women resulting from discrimination, the impact of environmental degradation on the poor, the allocation of funding to military rather than social programs, and the implications of the enormous debts incurred by poor countries. In addressing these conditions, he demonstrates the pressing need for action on both economic and ethical grounds.
Champions of the Poor offers an unbiased presentation of the ethical positions taken by Jews, Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Evangelicals and stresses the need for all social sectors—religious and secular, business, labor and government—to work together to eradicate poverty. By reassessing poverty from these seemingly disparate approaches, it seeks to bring us closer to solving this age-old problem.
In this fascinating study of a community of Chinese beggars, David Schak offers evidence that challenges widely held theories on poverty. It is a path-breaking, systematic anthropological study that challenges long-held beliefs about poverty, and is one of the few works on beggars available.
Over a period of seven years, Schak's fieldwork uncovers a structure of leadership, organizational methods, and alms-getting tactics. Moreover, certain members became upwardly mobile and able to leave this lifestyle. The severe stigma of gambling, adultery, and failure to marry proved the stimulus for a younger generation to leave begging behind.
In City of Suspects Pablo Piccato explores the multiple dimensions of crime in early-twentieth-century Mexico City. Basing his research on previously untapped judicial sources, prisoners’ letters, criminological studies, quantitative data, newspapers, and political archives, Piccato examines the paradoxes of repressive policies toward crime, the impact of social rebellion on patterns of common crime, and the role of urban communities in dealing with transgression on the margins of the judical system. By investigating postrevolutionary examples of corruption and organized crime, Piccato shines light on the historical foundations of a social problem that remains the main concern of Mexico City today. Emphasizing the social construction of crime and the way it was interpreted within the moral economy of the urban poor, he describes the capital city during the early twentieth century as a contested territory in which a growing population of urban poor had to negotiate the use of public spaces with more powerful citizens and the police. Probing official discourse on deviance, Piccato reveals how the nineteenth-century rise of positivist criminology—which asserted that criminals could be readily distinguished from the normal population based on psychological and physical traits—was used to lend scientific legitimacy to class stratifications and to criminalize working-class culture. Furthermore, he argues, the authorities’ emphasis on punishment, isolation, and stigmatization effectively created cadres of professional criminals, reshaping crime into a more dangerous problem for all inhabitants of the capital. This unique investigation into crime in Mexico City will interest Latin Americanists, sociologists, and historians of twentieth-century Mexican history.
Using the Amsterdam Municipal Orphanage as a window through which readers
can see the start of profound social and economic changes in early modern
Amsterdam, Civic Charity in a Golden Age explores the connections
between the developing capitalist economy, the functioning of the government,
and the provision of charitable services to orphans in Amsterdam during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the period of the city's greatest
prosperity and subsequent decline.
Anne McCants skillfully interprets details of the orphanage's expenditures,
especially for food; its population; the work records of those who were
reared there; and the careers of the regents who oversaw it. The establishment
of the orphanage itself was called for by the changing economic needs
of rapidly expanding commercial centers and the potential instability
of a government that depended on taxes from a large, politically powerless
segment of the population.
In The Color of Opportunity, Haya Stier and Marta Tienda ask: How do race and ethnicity limit opportunity in post-civil rights Chicago? In the 1960s, Chicago was a focal point of civil rights activities. But in the 1980s it served as the laboratory for ideas about the emergence and social consequences of concentrated urban poverty; many experts such as William J. Wilson downplayed the significance of race as a cause of concentrated poverty, emphasizing instead structural causes that called for change in employment policy. But in this new study, Stier and Tienda ask about the pervasive poverty, unemployment, and reliance on welfare among blacks and Hispanics in Chicago, wondering if and how the inner city poor differ from the poor in general.
The culmination of a six-year collaboration analyzing the Urban Poverty and Family Life Survey of Chicago, The Color of Opportunity is the first major work to compare Chicago's inner city minorities with national populations of like race and ethnicity from a life course perspective. The authors find that blacks, whites, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans living in poor neighborhoods differ in their experiences with early material deprivation and the lifetime disadvantages that accumulate—but they do not differ much from the urban poor in their family formation, welfare participation, or labor force attachment. Stier and Tienda find little evidence for ghetto-specific behavior, but they document the myriad ways color still restricts economic opportunity.
The Color of Opportunity stands as a much-needed corrective to increasingly negative views of poor people of color, especially the poor who live in deprived neighborhoods. It makes a key and lasting contribution to ongoing debates about the origins and nature of urban poverty.
Given the increasing diversity of the nation—particularly with respect to its growing Hispanic and Asian populations—why does racial and ethnic difference so often lead to disadvantage? In The Colors of Poverty, a multidisciplinary group of experts provides a breakthrough analysis of the complex mechanisms that connect poverty and race. The Colors of Poverty reframes the debate over the causes of minority poverty by emphasizing the cumulative effects of disadvantage in perpetuating poverty across generations. The contributors consider a kaleidoscope of factors that contribute to widening racial gaps, including education, racial discrimination, social capital, immigration, and incarceration. Michèle Lamont and Mario Small grapple with the theoretical ambiguities of existing cultural explanations for poverty disparities. They argue that culture and structure are not competing explanations for poverty, but rather collaborate to produce disparities. Looking at how attitudes and beliefs exacerbate racial stratification, social psychologist Heather Bullock links the rise of inequality in the United States to an increase in public tolerance for disparity. She suggests that the American ethos of rugged individualism and meritocracy erodes support for antipoverty programs and reinforces the belief that people are responsible for their own poverty. Sociologists Darren Wheelock and Christopher Uggen focus on the collateral consequences of incarceration in exacerbating racial disparities and are the first to propose a link between legislation that blocks former drug felons from obtaining federal aid for higher education and the black/white educational attainment gap. Joe Soss and Sanford Schram argue that the increasingly decentralized and discretionary nature of state welfare programs allows for different treatment of racial groups, even when such policies are touted as "race-neutral." They find that states with more blacks and Hispanics on welfare rolls are consistently more likely to impose lifetime limits, caps on benefits for mothers with children, and stricter sanctions. The Colors of Poverty is a comprehensive and evocative introduction to the dynamics of race and inequality. The research in this landmark volume moves scholarship on inequality beyond a simple black-white paradigm, beyond the search for a single cause of poverty, and beyond the promise of one "magic bullet" solution. A Volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy
How have civil rights transformed racial politics in America? Connecting economic and social reforms to racial and class inequality, Conjuring Crisis counters the myth of steady race progress by analyzing how the federal government and local politicians have sometimes "reformed" politics in ways that have amplified racism in the post civil-rights era.
In the 1990s at Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, North Carolina, the city's dominant political coalition of white civic and business leaders had lost control of the city council. Amid accusations of racism in the police department, two white council members joined black colleagues in support of the NAACP's demand for an investigation. George Baca's ethnographic research reveals how residents and politicians transformed an ordinary conflict into a "crisis" that raised the specter of chaos and disaster. He explores new territory by focusing on the broader intersection of militarization, urban politics, and civil rights.
In 1774 Mexico City leaders created the Mexico City Poor House—the centerpiece of a bold experiment intended to eliminate poverty and impose a new work ethic on former beggars by establishing a forcible internment policy for some and putting others to work. In Containing the Poor Silvia Marina Arrom tells the saga of this ill-fated plan, showing how the asylum functioned primarily to educate white orphans instead of suppressing mendicancy and exerting control over the multiracial community for whom it was designed. For a nation that had traditionally regarded the needy as having the undisputed right to receive alms and whose affluent citizens felt duty-bound to dispense them, the experiment was doomed from the start, explains Arrom. She uses deep archival research to reveal that—much to policymakers’ dismay—the Poor House became an orphanage largely because the government had underestimated the embeddedness of this moral economy of begging. While tracing the course of an eventful century that also saw colonialism give way to republicanism in Mexico, Arrom links the Poor House’s transformation with other societal factors as well, such as Mexican women’s increasing impact on social welfare policies. With poverty, begging, and homelessness still rampant in much of Latin America today, this study of changing approaches to social welfare will be particularly valuable to student and scholars of Mexican and Latin American society and history, as well as those engaged in the study of social and welfare policy.
Credit Markets for the Poor
Patrick Bolton Russell Sage Foundation, 2005 Library of Congress HG3751.C7293 2005 | Dewey Decimal 332.7086942
Access to credit is an important means of providing people with the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Loans are essential for most people who want to purchase a home, start a business, pay for college, or weather a spell of unemployment. Yet many people in poor and minority communities—regardless of their creditworthiness—find credit hard to come by, making the climb out of poverty extremely difficult. How dire are the lending markets in these communities and what can be done to improve access to credit for disadvantaged groups? In Credit Markets for the Poor, editors Patrick Bolton and Howard Rosenthal and an expert team of economists, political scientists, and legal and business scholars tackle these questions with shrewd analysis and a wealth of empirical data. Credit Markets for the Poor opens by examining what credit options are available to poor households. Economist John Caskey profiles how weak credit options force many working families into a disastrous cycle of short-term, high interest loans in order to sustain themselves between paychecks. Löic Sadoulet explores the reasons that community lending organizations, which have been so successful in developing countries, have failed in more advanced economies. He argues the obstacles that have inhibited community lending groups in industrialized countries—such as a lack of institutional credibility and the high cost of establishing lending networks—can be overcome if banks facilitate the community lending process and establish a system of repayment insurance. Credit Markets for the Poor also examines how legal institutions affect the ability of the poor to borrow. Daniela Fabbri and Mario Padula argue that well-meaning provisions making it more difficult for lenders to collect on defaulted loans are actually doing a disservice to the poor in credit markets. They find that in areas with lax legal enforcement of debt agreements, credit markets for the poor are underdeveloped because lenders are unwilling to take risks on issuing credit or will do so only at exorbitant interest rates. Timothy Bates looks at programs that facilitate small-business development and finds that they have done little to reduce poverty. He argues that subsidized business creation programs may lure inexperienced households into entrepreneurship in areas where little profitable investment is possible, hence setting them up for failure. With clarity and insightful analysis, Credit Markets for the Poor demonstrates how weak credit markets are impeding the social and economic mobility of the needy. By detailing the many disadvantages that impoverished people face when seeking to borrow, this important new volume highlights a significant national problem and offers solutions for the future.
Cultures of Charity
Nicholas Terpstra Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress HV295.B6T47 2013 | Dewey Decimal 362.557094541109
Renaissance debates about politics and gender led to pioneering forms of poor relief, devised to help women get a start in life. These included orphanages for illegitimate children and forced labor in workhouses, but also women’s shelters and early forms of maternity benefits, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and credit union savings plans.
Disciplining the Poor explains the transformation of poverty governance over the past forty years—why it happened, how it works today, and how it affects people. In the process, it clarifies the central role of race in this transformation and develops a more precise account of how race shapes poverty governance in the post–civil rights era. Connecting welfare reform to other policy developments, the authors analyze diverse forms of data to explicate the racialized origins, operations, and consequences of a new mode of poverty governance that is simultaneously neoliberal—grounded in market principles—and paternalist—focused on telling the poor what is best for them. The study traces the process of rolling out the new regime from the federal level, to the state and county level, down to the differences in ways frontline case workers take disciplinary actions in individual cases. The result is a compelling account of how a neoliberal paternalist regime of poverty governance is disciplining the poor today.
This volume argues that using social capital to eradicate poverty is unlikely to succeed because its mainstream approach mistakenly assumes that social capital necessarily benefits poor people. The inadequacy of that assumption, Sam Wong argues, calls for a reassessment of human motivations, institutional dynamics, and the complexity of structures in social capital building. Proposing a “pro-poor” perspective, in which poverty-specific outcomes are highlighted, he suggests an exploration of “unseen” social capital is in order—not only to challenge the mainstream understanding of “seen” social capital, but to demonstrate the need for everyday cooperation, which is shaped by social norms, influenced by conscious and unconscious motivations, and subject to changes in priority based on livelihood. A useful volume for both policy makers and practitioners, Exploring ‘Unseen’ Social Capital in Community Participation offers a fresh perspective in thinking about civic and social agency.
Now available in paperback, Kevin O’Neill’s highly praised study of rural Ireland in the years leading up to the "Great Hunger" of the 1840s explicates the social, economic, and demographic conditions of the era. He argues that overpopulation and deprivation were inextricably linked to a third variable—the rapid economic development of rural Ireland that was shaped by British interests.
The historical decline of fertility in Europe has occupied a central place in social history and demography over the past quarter-century. Most scholars credit Europeans with modulating sexual behavior, through either abstinence or the practice of coitus interruptus, as a rational choice made in the interest of personal economic comfort; yet peasant and working classes have typically lagged behind in birth control and have given rise to the adage that "sexual embrace is the festival of the poor." Scholarly analyses of "lag" often reinforce this stigmatizing view. Now this subject is given a fresh look through a case study in Sicily, one of the last outposts of Western Europe's demographic transition. By examining population changes in a single community between 1860 and 1980, the authors offer an extended review and critique of existing models of fertility decline in Europe, proposing a new interpretation that emphasizes historical context and class relations. They show how the spread of capitalism in Sicily induced an unprecedented rate of population growth, with boom-and-bust cycles creating the class experiences in which "reputational networks" came to redefine family life; how Sicilians began to control their fertility in response to class-mediated ideas about gender relations and respectable family size; and how the town's gentry, artisan, and peasant classes adopted family planning methods at different times in response to different pressures. Jane and Peter Schneider's anthropologically oriented political-economy perspective challenges the position of Western Europe as a model for fertility decline on which every other case should converge, looking instead at the diversity of cultural ideals and practices--such as those found in Sicily--that influence the spread and form of birth control. Combining anthropological, oral historical, and archival methods in new and insightful ways, the authors' synthesis of a particular case study with a broad historical and theoretical discussion will play a major role in the ongoing debates over the history of European fertility decline and point the way toward integrating the analysis of demographic upheaval with the study of class formation and ideology.
Access to capital and financial services is crucial for healthy communities. However, many impoverished individuals and neighborhoods are routinely ignored by mainstream financial institutions. This neglect led to the creation of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which provide low-income communities with financial services and act as a conduit to conventional financial organizations and capital markets. Edited by Julia Sass Rubin, Financing Low-Income Communities brings together leading experts in the field to assess what we know about the challenges of bringing financial services and capital to poor communities, map out future lines of research, and propose policy reforms to make these efforts more effective. The contributors to Financing Low-Income Communities distill research on key topics related to community development finance. Daniel Schneider and Peter Tufano examine the obstacles that make saving and asset accumulation difficult for low-income households—such as the fact that tens of millions of low-income and minority adults don't have a bank account—and consider solutions, like making it easier for low-wage workers to enroll in 401(K) plans. Jeanne Hogarth, Jane Kolodinksy, and Marianne Hilgert review evidence showing that community-based financial education programs can be effective in changing families' saving and budgeting patterns. Lisa Servon proposes strategies for addressing the challenges facing the microenterprise field in the United States. Julia Sass Rubin discusses ways community loan and venture capital funds have adapted in response to the decreased availability of funding, and considers potential sources of new capital, such as state governments and public pension funds. Marva Williams explores the evolution and recent performance of community development banks and credit unions. Kathleen Engel and Patricia McCoy document the proliferation of predatory lenders, who market loans at onerous interest rates to financially vulnerable families and the devastating effects of such lending on communities—from increased crime to falling home values and lower tax revenues. Rachel Bratt reviews the policies and programs used to make rental and owned housing financially accessible. Rob Hollister proposes a framework for evaluating the contributions of community development financial institutions. Despite the many accomplishments of CDFIs over the last four decades, changing political and economic conditions make it imperative that they adapt in order to survive. Financing Low-Income Communities charts out new directions for public and private organizations which aim to end the financial exclusion of marginalized neighborhoods.
In the Dutch Republic, charitable collections were regularly organized by both religious and secular authorities. This book examines the policies of church boards and town councils in organizing these charitable appeals, as well as the general population’s giving behavior. Using archival sources from the towns of Delft, Utrecht, Zwolle, and ’s-Hertogenbosch, Daniëlle Teeuwen shows how these authorities deployed organizational and rhetorical tactics—including creating awareness, establishing trust, and exerting pressure—to successfully promote fundraising campaigns. Not only did many relief institutions manage to collect large annual sums, but contributions came from across the socioeconomic spectrum.
"Cogently argued, fills an important gap in the literature, and is accessible to undergraduates." —Choice "Dismantles the mythology surrounding pawnshops and check-cashing outlets, and demonstrates that they are no longer on the fringe of our financial system but integral to it."—San Francisco Bay Guardian In today's world of electronic cash transfers, automated teller machines, and credit cards, the image of the musty, junk-laden pawnshop seems a relic of the past. But it is not. The 1980s witnessed a tremendous boom in pawnbroking. There are now more pawnshops thanever before in U.S. history, and they are found not only in large cities but in towns and suburbs throughout the nation. As John Caskey demonstrates in Fringe Banking, the increased public patronage of both pawnshops and commercial check-cashing outlets signals the growing number of American households now living on a cash-only basis, with no connection to any mainstream credit facilities or banking services. Fringe Banking is the first comprehensive study of pawnshops and check-cashing outlets, profiling their operations, customers, and recent growth from family-owned shops to such successful outlet chains as Cash American and ACE America's Cash Express. It explains why, despite interest rates and fees substantially higher than those of banks, their use has so dramatically increased. According to Caskey, declining family earnings, changing family structures, a growing immigrant population, and lack of household budgeting skills has greatly reduced the demand for bank deposit services among millions of Americans. In addition, banks responded to 1980s regulatory changes by increasing fees on deposit accounts with small balances and closing branches in many poor urban areas. These factors combined to leave many low- and moderate-income families without access to checking privileges, credit services, and bank loans. Pawnshops and check-cashing outlets provide such families with essential financial services thay cannot obtain elsewhere. Caskey notes that fringe banks, particularly check-cashing outlets, are also utilized by families who could participate in the formal banking system, but are willing to pay more for convenience and quick access to cash. Caskey argues that, contrary to their historical reputation as predators milking the poor and desperate, pawnshops and check-cashing outlets play a key financial role for disadvantaged groups. Citing the inconsistent and often unenforced state laws currently governing the industry, Fringe Banking challenges policy makers to design regulations that will allow fringe banks to remain profitable without exploiting the customers who depend on them.
From the almshouses of seventeenth-century Puritans to the massive housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, the struggle over housing assistance in the United States has exposed a deep-seated ambivalence about the place of the urban poor. Lawrence J. Vale's groundbreaking book is both a comprehensive institutional history of public housing in Boston and a broader examination of the nature and extent of public obligation to house socially and economically marginal Americans during the past 350 years.
First, Vale highlights startling continuities both in the way housing assistance has been delivered to the American poor and in the policies used to reward the nonpoor. He traces the stormy history of the Boston Housing Authority, a saga of entrenched patronage and virulent racism tempered, and partially overcome, by the efforts of unyielding reformers. He explores the birth of public housing as a program intended to reward the upwardly mobile working poor, details its painful transformation into a system designed to cope with society's least advantaged, and questions current policy efforts aimed at returning to a system of rewards for responsible members of the working class. The troubled story of Boston public housing exposes the mixed motives and ideological complexity that have long characterized housing in America, from the Puritans to the projects.
After nearly fifty years of rigid segregation, the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa and the African National Congress’s relatively peaceful assumption of power in 1994 were hailed as a miracle. But a few years into the transition, this miracle appeared increasingly threatened by crime and violence. In this compelling ethnography, Steffen Jensen focuses on a single township in Cape Town in order to explore how residents have negotiated the intersecting forces of political change and violent crime.
Jensen spent years closely observing the actions of residents both male and female, young and old, as well as gang members, police officers, and local government officials. The poisonous legacy of apartheid also comes under Jensen’s lens, as he examines the lasting effects that an official policy of racist stereotyping has had on the residents’ conceptions of themselves and their neighbors. While Gangs, Politics, and Dignity in Cape Town brims with insights into ongoing debates over policing, gangs, and local politics, Jensen also shows how people in the townships maintain their dignity in the face of hardship and danger.
Beginning in the late 1970s, activists from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro challenged the conditions—such as limited access to security, sanitation, public education, and formal employment—that separated favela residents from Rio's other citizens. The activists built a movement that helped to push the nation toward redemocratization. They joined with political allies in an effort to institute an ambitious slate of municipal reforms. Those measures ultimately fell short of aspirations, and soon the reformers were struggling to hold together a fraying coalition. Rio was bankrupted by natural disasters and hyperinflation and ravaged by drug wars. Well-armed drug traffickers had become the new lords of the favelas, protecting their turf through violence and patronage. By the early 1990s, the promise of the favela residents' mobilization of the late 1970s and early 1980s seemed out of reach. Yet the aspirations that fueled that mobilization have endured, and its legacy continues to shape favela politics in Rio de Janeiro.
This important collection of essays, originating in a 1989 conference on the disadvantaged in American health care, provides incisive commentary on U.S. health care policy and politics. Examining public responses to health crises and analyzing the political logic of the American community, this volume charts the immobility of U.S. health policy in recent years and points to its disastrous consequences for the 1990s. Focusing on the particular needs of disadvantaged groups—the elderly, children, people with AIDS, the mentally ill, the chemically dependent, the homeless, the hungry, the medically uninsured—these essays develop strong policy statements. The authors describe the growth in U.S. health care programs, from Kerr-Mills to Medicare, Medicaid, and subsequent revisions, and stress the serious omissions resulting from incremental policy expansion, both in identifying disadvantaged groups and in implementing programs. They report the weakness of the U.S. health care system compared to systems of other technologically developed countries.
Contributors. Deborah A. Stone and Theodore R. Marmor, Judith Feder, Alice Sardell, Bruce C. Vladeck, Michael Lipsky and Marc A. Thibodeau, Daniel M. Fox, William E. McAuliffe, M. Gregg Bloche and Francine Cournos, Lawrence D. Brown, James A. Morrone
Christie Kiefer vividly brings home the meaning of poverty in peoples’ lives as he examines both their access to—and their lack of—health care.
Aimed at both students and professionals in the field, this book argues that individuals serving the poor have the means and obligation to address the root causes of ill health of the poor, not just the symptoms. These causes, Kiefer argues, are overwhelmingly social and political. In a ringing indictment of the factors that perpetuate poverty, he declares that the work of healing at its best must include advocacy.
Health Work with the Poor offers to both health workers and activists a wealth of practical information. Kiefer’s trenchant analysis of the factors that help cause and perpetuate poverty offers students the needed intellectual framework not only to accomplish short-term change but also to strive toward long-term social advocacy. Each chapter ends with a set of discussion questions—a real boon for instructors. Appendices on Internet resources for the study of poverty and on a proposed program detailing how to teach health workers in a way that promotes social awareness make this book a valuable resource for courses on poverty and health. It will also be an indispensable manual for all those who work with the poor.
Public silence in policymaking can be deafening. When advocates for a disadvantaged group decline to speak up, not only are their concerns not recorded or acted upon, but also the collective strength of the unspoken argument is lessened—a situation that undermines the workings of deliberative democracy by reflecting only the concerns of more powerful interests.
But why do so many advocates remain silent on key issues they care about and how does that silence contribute to narrowly defined policies? What can individuals and organizations do to amplify their privately expressed concerns for policy change?
In Healthy Voices, Unhealthy Silence, Colleen M. Grogan and Michael K. Gusmano address these questions through the lens of state-level health care advocacy for the poor. They examine how representatives for the poor participate in an advisory board process by tying together existing studies; extensive interviews with key players; and an in-depth, first-hand look at the Connecticut Medicaid advisory board's deliberations during the managed care debate. Drawing on the concepts of deliberative democracy, agenda setting, and nonprofit advocacy, Grogan and Gusmano reveal the reasons behind advocates' often unexpected silence on major issues, assess how capable nonprofits are at affecting policy debates, and provide prescriptive advice for creating a participatory process that adequately addresses the health care concerns of the poor and dispossessed.
Though exploring specifically state-level health care advocacy for the poor, the lessons Grogan and Gusmano offer here are transferable across issue areas and levels of government. Public policy scholars, advocacy organizations, government workers, and students of government administration will be well-served by this significant study.
During the 1990s, growing demands to end chronic welfare dependency culminated in the 1996 federal "welfare-to-work" reforms. But regardless of welfare reform, the United States has always been home to a large population of working poor—people who remain poor even when they work and do not receive welfare. In a concentrated effort to address the problems of the working poor, a coalition of community activists and business leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launched New Hope, an experimental program that boosted employment among the city's poor while reducing poverty and improving children's lives. In Higher Ground, Greg Duncan, Aletha Huston, and Thomas Weisner provide a compelling look at how New Hope can serve as a model for national anti-poverty policies. New Hope was a social contract—not a welfare program—in which participants were required to work a minimum of thirty hours a week in order to be eligible for earnings supplements and health and child care subsidies. All participants had access to career counseling and temporary community service jobs. Drawing on evidence from surveys, public records of employment and earnings, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic observation, Higher Ground tells the story of this ambitious three-year social experiment and evaluates how participants fared relative to a control group. The results were highly encouraging. Poverty rates declined among families that participated in the program. Employment and earnings increased among participants who were not initially working full-time, relative to their counterparts in a control group. For those who had faced just one significant barrier to employment (such as a lack of access to child care or a spotty employment history), these gains lasted years after the program ended. Increased income, combined with New Hope's subsidies for child care and health care, brought marked improvements to the well-being and development of participants' children. Enrollment in child care centers increased, and fewer medical needs went unmet. Children performed better in school and exhibited fewer behavioral problems, and gains were particularly dramatic for boys, who are at the greatest risk for poor academic performance and behavioral disorders. As America takes stock of the successes and shortcomings of the Clinton-era welfare reforms, the authors convincingly demonstrate why New Hope could be a model for state and national policies to assist the working poor. Evidence based and insightfully written, Higher Ground illuminates how policymakers can make work pay for families struggling to escape poverty.
Hope, Heart, and the Humanities tells the story of how Venture, a free, interdisciplinary college humanities course inspired by the national Clemente Course, has helped open doors to improve the lives of people with low incomes who face barriers to attending college. For over a decade, this course has given hundreds of adults, some of them immigrants or refugees, the knowledge, confidence, and power to rechart their lives.
Readers will go inside Venture classrooms to see what occurs when adults enter serious discussions about literature, critical writing, art history, American history, and philosophy. Apparent also are the difficulties nontraditional students, who range in age from 18 to 60, often encounter in a college classroom and the hard choices they and their teachers make. What readers may remember most are the stories and words from people whose views of the world broaden and whose directions in life changed.
How the Other Half Lives
Jacob A. Riis Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress HV4046.N6R55 2010 | Dewey Decimal 305.569097471
Hunger: A Modern History
James Vernon Harvard University Press, 2007 Library of Congress HC260.P6P47 2007 | Dewey Decimal 363.809171241
Rigorously researched, Hunger: A Modern History draws together social, cultural, and political history, to show us how we came to have a moral, political, and social responsibility toward the hungry. Vernon forcefully reminds us how many perished from hunger in the empire and reveals how their history was intricately connected with the precarious achievements of the welfare state in Britain, as well as with the development of international institutions committed to the conquest of world hunger.
The image of the "underclass," framed by persistent poverty, long-term joblessness, school dropout, teenage pregnancy, and drug use, has become synonymous with urban poverty. But does this image tell us enough about how the diverse minorities among the urban poor actually experience and cope with poverty? No, say the contributors to In the Barrios. Their portraits of eight Latino communities—in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Albuquerque, Laredo, and Tucson—reveal a far more complex reality. In the Barrios responds directly to current debates on the origins of the "underclass" and depicts the cultural, demographic, and historical forces that have shaped poor Latino communities. These neighborhoods share many hardships, yet they manifest no "typical" form of poverty. Instead, each group adapts its own cultural and social resources to the difficult economic circumstances of American urban life. The editors point to continued immigration as an issue of overriding importance in understanding urban Latino poverty. Newcomers to concentrated Latino areas build a local economy that provides affordable amenities and promotes ethnic institutional development. In many of these neighborhoods, a network of emotional as well as economic support extends across families and borders. The first major assessment of inner-city Latino communities in the United States, In the Barrios will change the way we approach the current debate on urban poverty, immigration, and the underclass.
Even as the United States enjoys a booming economy and historically low levels of unemployment, millions of Americans remain out of work or underemployed, and joblessness continues to plague many urban communities, racial minorities, and people with little education. In Jobs for the Poor, Timothy Bartik calls for a dramatic shift in the way the United States confronts this problem. Today, most efforts to address this problem focus on ways to make workers more employable, such as job training and welfare reform. But Bartik argues that the United States should put more emphasis on ways to increase the interest of employers in creating jobs for the poor—or the labor demand side of the labor market. Bartik's bases his case for labor demand policies on a comprehensive review of the low-wage labor market. He examines the effectiveness of government interventions in the labor market, such as Welfare Reform, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Welfare-to-Work programs, and asks if having a job makes a person more employable. Bartik finds that public service employment and targeted employer wage subsidies can increase employment among the poor. In turn, job experience significantly increases the poor's long-run earnings by enhancing their skills and reputation with employers. And labor demand policies can avoid causing inflation or displacing other workers by targeting high-unemployment labor markets and persons who would otherwise be unemployed. Bartik concludes by proposing a large-scale labor demand program. One component of the program would give a tax credit to employers in areas of high unemployment. To provide disadvantaged workers with more targeted help, Bartik also recommends offering short-term subsidies to employers—particularly small businesses and nonprofit organizations—that hire people who otherwise would be unlikely to find jobs. With experience from subsidized jobs, the new workers should find it easier to obtain future year-round employment. Although these efforts would not catapult poor families into the middle class overnight, Bartik offers a powerful argument that having a full-time worker in every household would help improve the lives of millions. Jobs for the Poor makes a compelling case that full employment can be achieved if the country has the political will and adopts policies that address both sides of the labor market. Copublished with the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Economic Research
Sharing a postrevolutionary sympathy with the struggles of the poor, the contributors to this first comprehensive collection of writing on subalternity in Latin America work to actively link politics, culture, and literature. Emerging from a decade of work and debates generated by a collective known as the Latin American Studies Group, the volume privileges the category of the subaltern over that of class, as contributors focus on the possibilities of investigating history from below. In addition to an overview by Ranajit Guha, essay topics include nineteenth-century hygiene in Latin American countries, Rigoberta Menchú after the Nobel, commentaries on Haitian and Argentinian issues, the relationship between gender and race in Bolivia, and ungovernability and tragedy in Peru. Providing a radical critique of elite culture and of liberal, bourgeois, and modern epistemologies and projects, the essays included here prove that Latin American Subaltern Studies is much more than the mere translation of subaltern studies from South Asia to Latin America.
Contributors. Marcelo Bergman, John Beverley, Robert Carr, Sara Castro-Klarén, Michael Clark, Beatriz González Stephan, Ranajit Guha, María Milagros López , Walter Mignolo, Alberto Moreiras, Abdul-Karim Mustapha, José Rabasa, Ileana Rodríguez, Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, Javier Sanjinés, C. Patricia Seed, Doris Sommer, Marcia Stephenson, Mónica Szurmuk, Gareth Williams, Marc Zimmerman
In this distinguished contribution to Latin American colonial history, Douglas Cope draws upon a wide variety of sources—including Inquisition and court cases, notarial records and parish registers—to challenge the traditional view of castas (members of the caste system created by Spanish overlords) as rootless, alienated, and dominated by a desire to improve their racial status. On the contrary, the castas, Cope shows, were neither passive nor ruled by feelings of racial inferiority; indeed, they often modified or even rejected elite racial ideology. Castas also sought ways to manipulate their social "superiors" through astute use of the legal system. Cope shows that social control by the Spaniards rested less on institutions than on patron-client networks linking individual patricians and plebeians, which enabled the elite class to co-opt the more successful castas.
The book concludes with the most thorough account yet published of the Mexico City riot of 1692. This account illuminates both the shortcomings and strengths of the patron-client system. Spurred by a corn shortage and subsequent famine, a plebeian mob laid waste much of the central city. Cope demonstrates that the political situation was not substantially altered, however; the patronage system continued to control employment and plebeians were largely left to bargain and adapt, as before.
A revealing look at the economic lives of the urban poor in the colonial era, The Limits of Racial Domination examines a period in which critical social changes were occurring. The book should interest historians and ethnohistorians alike.
For the middle class and the affluent, local ties seem to matter less and less these days, but in the inner city, your life can be irrevocably shaped by what block you live on. Living the Drama takes a close look at three neighborhoods in Boston to analyze the many complex ways that the context of community shapes the daily lives and long-term prospects of inner-city boys.
David J. Harding studied sixty adolescent boys growing up in two very poor areas and one working-class area. In the first two, violence and neighborhood identification are inextricably linked as rivalries divide the city into spaces safe, neutral, or dangerous. Consequently, Harding discovers, social relationships are determined by residential space. Older boys who can navigate the dangers of the streets serve as role models, and friendships between peers grow out of mutual protection. The impact of community goes beyond the realm of same-sex bonding, Harding reveals, affecting the boys’ experiences in school and with the opposite sex. A unique glimpse into the world of urban adolescent boys, Living the Drama paints a detailed, insightful portrait of life in the inner city.
The residents of Caxambu, a squatter neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, live in a state of insecurity as they face urban violence. Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favela examines how inequality, racism, drug trafficking, police brutality, and gang activities affect the daily lives of the people of Caxambu. Some Brazilians see these communities, known as favelas, as centers of drug trafficking that exist beyond the control of the state and threaten the rest of the city. For other Brazilians, favelas are symbols of economic inequality and racial exclusion. Ben Penglase’s ethnography goes beyond these perspectives to look at how the people of Caxambu themselves experience violence.
Although the favela is often seen as a war zone, the residents are linked to each other through bonds of kinship and friendship. In addition, residents often take pride in homes and public spaces that they have built and used over generations. Penglase notes that despite poverty, their lives are not completely defined by illegal violence or deprivation. He argues that urban violence and a larger context of inequality create a social world that is deeply contradictory and ambivalent. The unpredictability and instability of daily experiences result in disagreements and tensions, but the residents also experience their neighborhood as a place of social intimacy. As a result, the social world of the neighborhood is both a place of danger and safety.
North Lawndale, a neighborhood that lies in the shadows of Chicago’s Loop, is surrounded by some of the city’s finest medical facilities, Yet, it is one of the sickest, most medically underserved communities in the country.
Mama Might Be Better Off Dead immerses readers in the lives of four generations of a poor, African-American family in the neighborhood, who are beset with the devastating illnesses that are all too common in America’s inner-cities. Headed by Jackie Banes, who oversees the care of a diabetic grandmother, a husband on kidney dialysis, an ailing father, and three children, the Banes family contends with countless medical crises. From visits to emergency rooms and dialysis units, to trials with home care, to struggles for Medicaid eligibility, Laurie Kaye Abraham chronicles their access—or more often, lack thereof—to medical care. Told sympathetically but without sentimentality, their story reveals an inadequate health care system that is further undermined by the direct and indirect effects of poverty.
Both disturbing and illuminating, Mama Might Be Better Off Dead is an unsettling, profound look at the human face of health care in America. Published to great acclaim in 1993, the book in this new edition includes an incisive foreword by David Ansell, a physician who worked at Mt. Sinai Hospital, where much of the Banes family’s narrative unfolds.
Mama Might Be Better Off Dead is an unsettling, profound look at the human face of health care. Both disturbing and illuminating, it immerses readers in the lives of four generations of a poor, African-American family beset with the devastating illnesses that are all too common in America's inner-cities.
The story takes place in North Lawndale, a neighborhood that lies in the shadows of Chicago's Loop. Although surrounded by some of the city's finest medical facilities, North Lawndale is one of the sickest, most medically underserved communities in the country. Headed by Jackie Banes, who oversees the care of a diabetic grandmother, a husband on kidney dialysis, an ailing father, and three children, the Banes family contends with countless medical crises. From visits to emergency rooms and dialysis units, to trials with home care, to struggles for Medicaid eligibility, Abraham chronicles their access (or lack of access) to medical care.
Told sympathetically but without sentimentality, their story reveals an inadequate health care system that is further undermined by the direct and indirect effects of poverty. When people are poor, they become sick easily. When people are sick, their families quickly become poorer.
Embedded in the family narrative is a lucid analysis of the gaps, inconsistencies, and inequalities the poor face when they seek health care. This book reveals what health care policies crafted in Washington, D. C. or state capitals look like when they hit the street. It shows how Medicaid and Medicare work and don't work, the Catch-22s of hospital financing in the inner city, the racial politics of organ transplants, the failure of childhood immunization programs, the vexed issues of individual responsibility and institutional paternalism. One observer puts it this way: "Show me the poor woman who finds a way to get everything she's entitled to in the system, and I'll show you a woman who could run General Motors."
Abraham deftly weaves these themes together to make a persuasive case for health care reform while unflinchingly presenting the complexities that will make true reform as difficult as it is necessary. Mama Might Be Better Off Dead is a book with the power to change the way health care is understood in America. For those seeking to learn what our current system of health care promises and what it delivers, it offers a place for the debate to begin.
What happens when the market tries to help the poor? In many parts of the world today, neoliberal development programs are offering ordinary people the tools of free enterprise as the means to well-being and empowerment. Schemes to transform the poor into small-scale entrepreneurs promise them the benefits of the market and access to the rewards of globalization. Markets of Dispossession is a theoretically sophisticated and sobering account of the consequences of these initiatives.
Julia Elyachar studied the efforts of bankers, social scientists, ngo members, development workers, and state officials to turn the craftsmen and unemployed youth of Cairo into the vanguard of a new market society based on microenterprise. She considers these efforts in relation to the alternative notions of economic success held by craftsmen in Cairo, in which short-term financial profit is not always highly valued. Through her careful ethnography of workshop life, Elyachar explains how the traditional market practices of craftsmen are among the most vibrant modes of market life in Egypt. Long condemned as backward, these existing market practices have been seized on by social scientists and development institutions as the raw materials for experiments in “free market” expansion. Elyachar argues that the new economic value accorded to the cultural resources and social networks of the poor has fueled a broader process leading to their economic, social, and cultural dispossession.
Sterilization remains one of the most popular forms of fertility control in the world, but it has received little acknowledgment for decreasing birthrates on account of its dubious use as a means of population control, especially in developing countries.
In Matters of Choice, Iris Lopez presents a comprehensive analysis of the dichotomous views that have portrayed sterilization either as part of a coercive program of population control or as a means of voluntary, even liberating, fertility control by individual women. Drawing upon her twenty-five years of research on sterilized Puerto Rican women from five different families in Brooklyn, Lopez untangles the interplay between how women make fertility decisions and their social, economic, cultural, and historical constraints. Weaving together the voices of these women, she covers the history of sterilization and eugenics, societal pressures to have fewer children, a lack of adequate health care, patterns of gender inequality, and misinformation provided by doctors and family members.
Lopez makes a stirring case for a model of reproductive freedom, taking readers beyond victim/agent debates to consider a broader definition of reproductive rights within a feminist anthropological context.
Social workers produced thousands of case files about the poor during the interwar years. Analyzing almost two thousand such case files and traveling from Boston, Minneapolis, and Portland to London and Melbourne, Miss Cutler and the Case of the Resurrected Horse is a pioneering comparative study that examines how these stories of poverty were narrated and reshaped by ethnic diversity, economic crisis, and war.
Probing the similarities and differences in the ways Americans, Australians, and Britons understood and responded to poverty, Mark Peel draws a picture of social work that is based in the sometimes fraught encounters between the poor and their interpreters. He uses dramatization to bring these encounters to life—joining Miss Cutler and that resurrected horse are Miss Lindstrom and the fried potatoes and Mr. O’Neil and the seductive client—and to give these people a voice. Adding new dimensions to the study of charity and social work, this book is essential to understanding and tackling poverty in the twenty-first century.
More Than Bread examines life in the dining room of the Tabernacle Soup Kitchen, located in Middle City in a New England state. What happens when one hundred guests, which include single mothers, drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, and the chronically unemployed, representing diverse age groups and ethnicities, come together in the dining room for several hours each day? Irene Glasser challenges the popular assumption that soup kitchens function primarily to provide food for the hungry by refocusing our attention on the social aspects of the dining room. The soup kitchen offers a model of a de-professionalized, nonclinical, nurturing setting that is in contrast to the traditional human services agency.
The threat from infectious diseases has increased with globalization. Throughout the history of mankind, epidemics have eradicated whole regions, started the migration of peoples and decided wars. They continue to leave their mark on societies, as well as influencing politics and economies. The New Plagues: Pandemics and Poverty in a Globalized World explores the strategies of microbes in conjunction with the economic impact of epidemics. In particular, it looks at the conflict between rich and poor with regard to outbreaks, and introduces possible strategies for containment.
Odd Tribes challenges theories of whiteness and critical race studies by examining the tangles of privilege, debasement, power, and stigma that constitute white identity. Considering the relation of phantasmatic cultural forms such as the racial stereotype “white trash” to the actual social conditions of poor whites, John Hartigan Jr. generates new insights into the ways that race, class, and gender are fundamentally interconnected. By tracing the historical interplay of stereotypes, popular cultural representations, and the social sciences’ objectifications of poverty, Hartigan demonstrates how constructions of whiteness continually depend on the vigilant maintenance of class and gender decorums.
Odd Tribes engages debates in history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies over how race matters. Hartigan tracks the spread of “white trash” from an epithet used only in the South prior to the Civil War to one invoked throughout the country by the early twentieth century. He also recounts how the cultural figure of “white trash” influenced academic and popular writings on the urban poor from the 1880s through the 1990s. Hartigan’s critical reading of the historical uses of degrading images of poor whites to ratify lines of color in this country culminates in an analysis of how contemporary performers such as Eminem and Roseanne Barr challenge stereotypical representations of “white trash” by claiming the identity as their own. Odd Tribes presents a compelling vision of what cultural studies can be when diverse research methodologies and conceptual frameworks are brought to bear on pressing social issues.
At St. John's Bread and Life, a soup kitchen in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, more than a thousand people line up for breakfast and lunch five days a week. During the twelve-year era of welfare reform, William DiFazio observed the daily lives of poor people at St. John's and throughout New York City.
In this trenchant and groundbreaking work, DiFazio presents the results of welfare reform—from ending entitlements to diminished welfare benefits—through the eyes and voices of those who were most directly affected by it. Ordinary Poverty concludes with a program to guarantee universal rights to a living wage as a crucial way to end poverty. Ultimately, DiFazio articulates the form a true poor people's movement would take—one that would link the interests of all social movements with the interests of ending poverty.
In Overseers of the Poor, John Gilliom confronts the everyday politics of surveillance by exploring the worlds and words of those who know it best-the watched. Arguing that the current public conversation about surveillance and privacy rights is rife with political and conceptual failings, Gilliom goes beyond the critics and analysts to add fresh voices, insights, and perspectives.
This powerful book lets us in on the conversations of low-income mothers from Appalachian Ohio as they talk about the welfare bureaucracy and its remarkably advanced surveillance system. In their struggle to care for their families, these women are monitored and assessed through a vast network of supercomputers, caseworkers, fraud control agents, and even grocers and neighbors.
In-depth interviews show that these women focus less on the right to privacy than on a critique of surveillance that lays bare the personal and political conflicts with which they live. And, while they have little interest in conventional forms of politics, we see widespread patterns of everyday resistance as they subvert the surveillance regime when they feel it prevents them from being good parents. Ultimately, Overseers of the Poor demonstrates the need to reconceive not just our understanding of the surveillance-privacy debate but also the broader realms of language, participation, and the politics of rights.
We all know that our lives are being watched more than ever before. As we struggle to understand and confront this new order, Gilliom argues, we need to spend less time talking about privacy rights, legislatures, and courts of law and more time talking about power, domination, and the ongoing struggles of everyday people.
Patients of the State is a sociological account of the extended waiting that poor people seeking state social and administrative services must endure. It is based on ethnographic research in the waiting area of the main welfare office in Buenos Aires, in the line leading into the Argentine registration office where legal aliens apply for identification cards, and among people who live in a polluted shantytown on the capital’s outskirts, while waiting to be allocated better housing. Scrutinizing the mundane interactions between the poor and the state, as well as underprivileged people’s confusion and uncertainty about the administrative processes that affect them, Javier Auyero argues that while waiting, the poor learn the opposite of citizenship. They learn to be patients of the state. They absorb the message that they should be patient and keep waiting, because there is nothing else that they can do. Drawing attention to a significant everyday dynamic that has received little scholarly attention until now, Auyero considers not only how the poor experience these lengthy waits but also how making poor people wait works as a strategy of state control.
Rachel Fuchs shows how poor urban women in Paris negotiated their environment, and in some respects helped shape it, in their attempt to cope with their problems of poverty and pregnancy. She reveals who the women were and provides insight into the nature of their work and living arrangements. With dramatic detail, and drawing on actual court testimonies, Fuchs portrays poor women's childbirth experiences, their use of charity and welfare, and their recourse to abortion and infanticide as desperate alternatives to motherhood.
Fuchs also provides a comprehensive description of philanthropic and welfare institutions and outlines the relationship between the developing welfare state and official conceptions of womanhood. She traces the evolution of a new morality among policymakers in which secular views, medical hygiene, and a new focus on the protection of children replaced religious morality as a driving force in policy formation.
Combining social, intellectual, and medical history, this study of poor mothers in nineteenth-century society illuminates both class and gender relations in Paris, and illustrates the connection between social policy and the way ordinary women lived their lives.
Poor People’s Medicine is a detailed history of Medicaid since its beginning in 1965. Federally aided and state-operated, Medicaid is the single most important source of medical care for the poorest citizens of the United States. From acute hospitalization to long-term nursing-home care, the nation’s Medicaid programs pay virtually the entire cost of physician treatment, medical equipment, and prescription pharmaceuticals for the millions of Americans who fall within government-mandated eligibility guidelines. The product of four decades of contention over the role of government in the provision of health care, some of today’s Medicaid programs are equal to private health plans in offering coordinated, high-quality medical care, while others offer little more than bare-bones coverage to their impoverished beneficiaries.
Starting with a brief overview of the history of charity medical care, Jonathan Engel presents the debates surrounding Medicaid’s creation and the compromises struck to allow federal funding of the nascent programs. He traces the development of Medicaid through the decades, as various states attempted to both enlarge the programs and more finely tailor them to their intended targets. At the same time, he describes how these new programs affected existing institutions and initiatives such as public hospitals, community clinics, and private pro bono clinical efforts. Along the way, Engel recounts the many political battles waged over Medicaid, particularly in relation to larger discussions about comprehensive health care and social welfare reform. Poor People’s Medicine is an invaluable resource for understanding the evolution and present state of programs to deliver health care to America’s poor.
“Political clientelism” is a term used to characterize the contemporary relationships between political elites and the poor in Latin America in which goods and services are traded for political favors. Javier Auyero critically deploys the notion in Poor People’s Politics to analyze the political practices of the Peronist Party among shantytown dwellers in contemporary Argentina. Looking closely at the slum-dwellers’ informal problem-solving networks, which are necessary for material survival, and the different meanings of Peronism within these networks, Auyero presents the first ethnography of urban clientelism ever carried out in Argentina. Revealing a deep familiarity with the lives of the urban poor in Villa Paraíso, a stigmatized and destitute shantytown of Buenos Aires, Auyero demonstrates the ways in which local politicians present their vital favors to the poor and how the poor perceive and evaluate these favors. Having penetrated the networks, he describes how they are structured, what is traded, and the particular way in which women facilitate these transactions. Moreover, Auyero proposes that the act of granting favors or giving food in return for votes gives the politicians’ acts a performative and symbolic meaning that flavors the relation between problem-solver and problem-holder, while also creating quite different versions of contemporary Peronism. Along the way, Auyero is careful to situate the emergence and consolidation of clientelism in historic, cultural, and economic contexts. Poor People’s Politics reexamines the relationship between politics and the destitute in Latin America, showing how deeply embedded politics are in the lives of those who do not mobilize in the usual sense of the word but who are far from passive. It will appeal to a wide range of students and scholars of Latin American studies, sociology, anthropology, political science, history, and cultural studies.
Over seven million Americans are either incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, with their criminal records often following them for life and affecting access to higher education, jobs, and housing. Court-ordered monetary sanctions that compel criminal defendants to pay fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution further inhibit their ability to reenter society. In A Pound of Flesh, sociologist Alexes Harris analyzes the rise of monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system and shows how they permanently penalize and marginalize the poor. She exposes the damaging effects of a little-understood component of criminal sentencing and shows how it further perpetuates racial and economic inequality.
Harris draws from extensive sentencing data, legal documents, observations of court hearings, and interviews with defendants, judges, prosecutors, and other court officials. She documents how low-income defendants are affected by monetary sanctions, which include fees for public defenders and a variety of processing charges. Until these debts are paid in full, individuals remain under judicial supervision, subject to court summons, warrants, and jail stays. As a result of interest and surcharges that accumulate on unpaid financial penalties, these monetary sanctions often become insurmountable legal debts which many offenders carry for the remainder of their lives. Harris finds that such fiscal sentences, which are imposed disproportionately on low-income minorities, help create a permanent economic underclass and deepen social stratification.
A Pound of Flesh delves into the court practices of five counties in Washington State to illustrate the ways in which subjective sentencing shapes the practice of monetary sanctions. Judges and court clerks hold a considerable degree of discretion in the sentencing and monitoring of monetary sanctions and rely on individual values—such as personal responsibility, meritocracy, and paternalism—to determine how much and when offenders should pay. Harris shows that monetary sanctions are imposed at different rates across jurisdictions, with little or no state government oversight. Local officials’ reliance on their own values and beliefs can also push offenders further into debt—for example, when judges charge defendants who lack the means to pay their fines with contempt of court and penalize them with additional fines or jail time.
A Pound of Flesh provides a timely examination of how monetary sanctions permanently bind poor offenders to the judicial system. Harris concludes that in letting monetary sanctions go unchecked, we have created a two-tiered legal system that imposes additional burdens on already-marginalized groups.
In three magisterial essays, Peter Brown, one of the world's foremost scholars of the society and culture of late antiquity, explores the emergence in late Roman society of "the poor" as a distinct social class, one for which the Christian church claimed a special responsibility. It is the story of how a society came to see itself as responsible for the care of a particular class of people -- a class that had not previously been cared for -- and of who benefited from that shift in interests. In his characteristically elegant and lucid prose, Brown seeks to recover the pre-Christian status of poor people, the actual nature of the relations between the Christian church and the poor, and the true motivations -- sometimes sincere, sometimes self-serving -- behind Christian rhetoric of love for the poor. He draws not only on the standard Greek and Latin sources for the later Roman Empire, but also on Jewish sources to document the interactions between Middle Eastern provincial societies and classical Roman traditions. Brown gracefully illuminates a crucial transition from classical to Christian culture: the emergence of a new understanding of what society -- and the Church -- owes to the poor that continues to resonate.
This far-reaching study of maternal societies in post-revolutionary France focuses on the philanthropic work of the Society for Maternal Charity, the most prominent organization of its kind. Administered by middle-class and elite women and financed by powerful families and the government, the Society offered support to poor mothers, helping them to nurse and encouraging them not to abandon their children. In Poverty, Charity, and Motherhood, Christine Adams traces the Society's key role in shaping notions of maternity and in shifting the care of poor families from the hands of charitable volunteers with religious-tinged social visions to paid welfare workers with secular goals such as population growth and patriotism.
Adams plumbs the origin and ideology of the Society and its branches, showing how elite women in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Rouen, Marseille, Dijon, and Limoges tried to influence the maternal behavior of women and families with lesser financial means and social status. A deft analysis of the philosophy and goals of the Society details the members' own notions of good mothering, family solidarity, and legitimate marriages that structured official, elite, and popular attitudes concerning gender and poverty in France. These personal attitudes, Adams argues, greatly influenced public policy and shaped the country's burgeoning social welfare system.
"Extremely coherent and useful, this much needed volume is concerned with the current status of the poor in Western industrial states. Its closely linked essays allow comparisons between case studies and are often themselves cross-national comparisons....The essays also comment on the meaning of globalization for social policy." —Choice "Excellent and tightly integrated articles by a group of prominent international scholars....A timely and important book, which will surely become the basic reference point for all future research on inequality and social policy." —Contemporary Sociology The social safety net is under strain in all Western nations, as social and economic change has created problems that traditional welfare systems were not designed to handle. Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policy provides a definitive analysis of the conditions that are fraying the social fabric and the reasons why some countries have been more successful than others in addressing these trends. In the United States, where the poverty rate in the 1980s was twice that of any advanced nation in Europe, the social protection system—and public support for it—has eroded alarmingly. In Europe, the welfare system more effectively buffered the disadvantaged, but social expenditures have been indicted by many as the principal cause of high unemployment. Concluding chapters review the progress and goals of social welfare programs, assess their viability in the face of creeping economic, racial, and social fragmentation, and define the challenges that face those concerned with social cohesion and economic prosperity in the new global economy. This volume illuminates the disparate effects of government intervention on the incidence and duration of poverty in Western countries. Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policy is full of lessons for anyone who would look beyond the limitations of the welfare debate in the United States.
A view of Persian and Hellenistic Judean communities through theological and socioeconomic lenses
Johannes Unsok Ro employs philological, historical, and sociological approaches to investigate the close connections between socioeconomic structures, social inequality, and theological developments in the Judean communities in Persian- and Hellenistic-era Palestine. Ro contends that competing points of view from communities of lay returnees, priestly returnees, and communities of resident Judeans and Samaritans were juxtaposed within the Hebrew Bible, which took shape during the postexilic period. By exploring issues such as the relationship between the shaping of the canon and literacy in the Judean community, the term strangers in the biblical law codes, the socioeconomic structures of Judean communities reflected in the biblical law codes, the development of the theological concept of divine punitive justice, the piety of the poor in certain psalms, and the concept of poverty in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ro illustrates that the communities behind each text and its redactions can be ascertained through sociological and theological lenses.
Demonstration that a theology of the poor materialized orally among the poor but found written expression among Levites
Insight into the socioeconomic and theological concerns of the authorial groups behind various biblical law codes
A case that biblical “poverty” sometimes refers to humility and a theologically reflected consciousness of lowliness toward God
Welfare reform was supposed to end welfare as we know it. And it has. The welfare poor have been largely transformed into the working poor, but their poverty persists. This hard-hitting book takes a close look at where we’ve gone wrong—and where we might go next if we truly want to improve the lot of America’s underclass.
Tracing the roots of recent reforms to the early days of the war on poverty, A Poverty of Imagination describes a social welfare system grown increasingly inept, corrupt, and susceptible to conservative redesign. Investigating the causes of the ongoing failure of welfare assistance, Stoesz focuses on the economic barriers that impede movement out of poverty into the American mainstream. He explores such issues as the heterogeneity of welfare families, generational welfare, inadequate benefits, the negative effects of time limits on welfare recipients, a fringe banking industry that exploits low-income families, the limited capacity of low-wage markets, and the unavailability of credit.
Stoesz suggests that a form of "bootstrap capitalism" would allow individuals and families to participate more fully in American society and achieve upward economic mobility and stability. This proposal, emphasizing wage supplements, asset building, and community capitalism, sets the stage for the next act in poverty policy in the United States. With its valuable insights on the American welfare system and its positive agenda for change, this book makes a significant intervention in our ongoing struggle to come to terms with widespread poverty in the wealthiest nation on earth.
David Huyssen Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress HC108.N7H89 2014 | Dewey Decimal 305.509747109041
The Progressive Era has been seen as a seismic event that reduced the gulf between America's rich and poor. Progressive Inequality cuts against the grain of this view, showing how initiatives in charity, organized labor, and housing reform backfired, reinforcing class biases, especially the notion that wealth derives from individual merit.
The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after the acme of the Civil Rights movement responds not to rising criminal insecurity but to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethnoracial hierarchy. It partakes of a broader reconstruction of the state wedding restrictive “workfare” and expansive “prisonfare” under a philosophy of moral behaviorism. This paternalist program of penalization of poverty aims to curb the urban disorders wrought by economic deregulation and to impose precarious employment on the postindustrial proletariat. It also erects a garish theater of civic morality on whose stage political elites can orchestrate the public vituperation of deviant figures—the teenage “welfare mother,” the ghetto “street thug,” and the roaming “sex predator”—and close the legitimacy deficit they suffer when they discard the established government mission of social and economic protection. By bringing developments in welfare and criminal justice into a single analytic framework attentive to both the instrumental and communicative moments of public policy, Punishing the Poor shows that the prison is not a mere technical implement for law enforcement but a core political institution. And it reveals that the capitalist revolution from above called neoliberalism entails not the advent of “small government” but the building of an overgrown and intrusive penal state deeply injurious to the ideals of democratic citizenship.
Today, a college education is increasingly viewed as the gateway to the American Dream—a necessary prerequisite for social mobility. Yet recent policy reforms in the United States effectively steer former welfare recipients away from an education that could further their career prospects, forcing them directly into the workforce where they often find only low-paying jobs with little opportunity for growth. In Putting Poor People to Work, Kathleen Shaw, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christopher Mazzeo, and Jerry A. Jacobs explore this troubling disconnect between the principles of "work-first" and "college for all." Using comprehensive interviews with government officials and sophisticated data from six states over a four year period, Putting Poor People to Work shows how recent changes in public policy have reduced the quantity and quality of education and training available to adults with low incomes. The authors analyze how two policies encouraging work—the federal welfare reform law of 1996 and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998—have made moving people off of public assistance as soon as possible, with little regard to their long-term career prospects, a government priority. Putting Poor People to Work shows that since the passage of these "work-first" laws, not only are fewer low-income individuals pursuing postsecondary education, but when they do, they are increasingly directed towards the most ineffective, short-term forms of training, rather than higher-quality college-level education. Moreover, the schools most able and ready to serve poor adults—the community colleges—are deterred by these policies from doing so. Having a competitive, agile workforce that can compete with any in the world is a national priority. In a global economy where skills are paramount, that goal requires broad popular access to education and training. Putting Poor People to Work shows how current U.S. policy discourages poor Americans from seeking out a college education, stranding them in jobs with little potential for growth. This important new book makes a powerful argument for a shift in national priorities that would encourage the poor to embrace both work and education, rather than having to choose between the two. Institute for Research on Poverty Affiliated Books on Poverty and Public Policy">An Institute for Research on Poverty Affiliated Book on Poverty and Public Policy
What really happened when citizens were asked to participate in their community’s poverty programs? In this revealing new book, the authors provide an answer to this question through a systematic empirical analysis of a single public policy issue—citizen participation in the Community Action Program of the Johnson Administration’s “War on Poverty.” Beginning with a brief case study description and analysis of the politics of community action in each of America’s five largest cities—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Philadelphia—the authors move on to a fascinating examination of race and authority structures in our urban life. In a series of lively chapters, Professors Greenstone and Peterson show how the coalitions that formed around the community action question developed not out of electoral or organizational interests alone, but were strongly influenced by our conceptions of the nature of authority in America. They discuss the factors that affected the development of the action program and they note that democratic elections of low-income representatives, however much preferred by democratic reformers, were an ineffective way of representing the interests of the poor. The book stresses the way in which both machine and reform structures affected the ability of minority groups to organize effectively and to form alliances in urban politics. It considers the wide-ranging critiques made of the Community Action Program by conservative, liberal, and radical analysts and finds that all of them fail to appreciate the significance and intensity of the racial cleavage in American politics.
In this penetrating book, the authors provide a systematic empirical analysis of an important public policy issue—citizen participation in the Community Action Program of the Johnson administration's "War on Poverty." This Phoenix edition includes a new introduction in which the authors explicate the most important themes in their analysis.
In a series of lively chapters, Greenstone and Peterson show how the coalitions that formed around the community action question developed not out of electoral or organizational interests alone but were strongly influenced by prevailing conceptions of the nature of authority in America. The book stresses the way in which both machine and reform structures affected the ability of minority groups to organize effectively and to form alliances in urban politics. It considers the wide-ranging critiques made of the Community Action Program by conservative, liberal, and radical analysts and finds that all of them fail to appreciate the significance and intensity of the racial cleavage in American politics.
"Shantytown Protest is one of the richest and most interesting accounts of popular mobilizations in urban Latin America that I have ever seen. The description of popular resistance under conditions of extreme material scarcity and ruthless military repression is fascinating. The book is a major contribution to the research literatures on Third World urbanization and Latin America politics."
--Alejandro Portes, John Dewey Professor of Sociology and International Relations, The Johns Hopkins University
In 1973 armed forces launched a violent attack against the Chilean presidential palace and Santiago's slums and shantytowns. For ten years, only the Catholic Church was able to defy the military regime. Then, in 1983, students, workers, and shantytown residents stormed the streets demanding the resignation of Augusto Pinochet. The protests raged for three years and, in 1989, democratic elections were held. The following year a new civilian government took office.
Cathy Lisa Schneider examines this democratic transition from the bottom up, looking at the struggles of poor people to create and sustain organized resistance, to risk their lives to fight tyranny. Both an oral history based on over a hundred interviews collected in shantytowns and a comparative sociological study that explores political differences among different shantytowns in Santiago, this book analyzes the context in which the urban poor make choices about their lives, and the political histories that shape their vision.
"With an anthropologist's sympathetic ear, an activist's reasoned zeal, a social scientist's theoretical sensibility, and a journalist's deft pen, Cathy Schneider has brought to life Chile's burgeoning shantytown politics of the 1980s. From the overthrow of Allende to the fall of Pinochet, she chronicles and explains the swirling of popular struggles. Read her and learn."
--Charles Tilly, Director, Center for Studies of Social Change, New School for Social Research
"Cathy Schneider's book shows how democratic nation-building depends not only on how elites maneuver, but crucially on how ordinary citizens mobilize on behalf of democracy. She has successfully brought together Latin American studies and social science, the human drama of the shantytown protests with the analytical perspectives of social movement studies."
--Sidney Tarrow, Professor of Government, Cornell University
“Slow violence” from climate change, toxic drift, deforestation, oil spills, and the environmental aftermath of war takes place gradually and often invisibly. Rob Nixon focuses on the inattention we have paid to the lethality of many environmental crises, in contrast with the sensational, spectacle-driven messaging that impels public activism today.
One of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history, the great white migration left its mark on virtually every family in every southern upland and flatland town. In this extraordinary record of ordinary lives, dozens of white southern migrants describe their experiences in the northern "wilderness" and their eradicable attachments to family and community in the South.
Southern out-migration drew millions of southern workers to the steel mills, automobile factories, and even agricultural fields and orchards of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Through vivid oral histories, Chad Berry explores the conflict between migrants' economic success and their "spiritual exile" in the North. He documents the tension between factory owners who welcomed cheap, naive southern laborers and local "native" workers who greeted migrants with suspicion and hostility. He examines the phenomenon of "shuttle migration," in which migrants came north to work during the winter and returned home to plant spring crops on their southern farms. He also explores the impact of southern traditions--especially the southern evangelical church and "hillbilly" music--brought north by migrants.
Berry argues that in spite of being scorned by Midwesterners for violence, fecundity, intoxication, laziness, and squalor, the vast majority of southern whites who moved to the Midwest found the economic prosperity they were seeking. By allowing southern migrants to assess their own experiences and tell their own stories, Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles refutes persistent stereotypes about migrants' clannishness, life-style, work ethic, and success in the North.
Sometime near the start of the 1990s, the future became a place of national decline. The United States had entered a period of great anxiety fueled by the shrinking of the white middle class, the increasingly visible misery of poor urban blacks, and the mass immigration of nonwhites. Perhaps more than any other event marking the passage through these dark years, the 1992 Los Angeles riots have sparked imaginative and critical works reacting to this profound pessimism. Focusing on a wide range of these creative works, Min Hyoung Song shows how the L.A. riots have become a cultural-literary event—an important reference and resource for imagining the social problems plaguing the United States and its possible futures.
Song considers works that address the riots and often the traumatic place of the Korean American community within them: the independent documentary Sa-I-Gu (Korean for April 29, the date the riots began), Chang-rae Lee’s novel Native Speaker, the commercial film Strange Days, and the experimental drama of Anna Deavere Smith, among many others. He describes how cultural producers have used the riots to examine the narrative of national decline, manipulating language and visual elements, borrowing and refashioning familiar tropes, and, perhaps most significantly, repeatedly turning to metaphors of bodily suffering to convey a sense of an unraveling social fabric. Song argues that these aesthetic experiments offer ways of revisiting the traumas of the past in order to imagine more survivable futures.
"Striving to Save will inform and inspire social policy with its breakthrough approach in understanding how low-income families make ends meet while striving to make a better life for themselves and their families. Scholarly work in savings, debt, household finance, and behavior economics will benefit from this pioneering study that provides real-life context for some of the most important issues of our day."
---Tom Shapiro, Brandeis University
"The central contribution of the book is to use original qualitative research to provide readers with a nuanced understanding of the financial difficulties facing low-income households, their financial decision-making processes, and their paths to saving and building assets over time. The
book provides an essential corrective to the unidimensional view of poor households as unable and unwilling to save."
---Michael Barr, University of Michigan
In Striving to Save, Margaret Sherrard Sherraden and Amanda Moore McBride examine savings in eighty-four working families with low incomes, including fifty-nine families who participated in a groundbreaking program of matched savings and financial education. In-depth interviews with these families, along with savings and survey data, shed light on saving in low-income households.
The book concludes with recommended public policy approaches for increasing savings in households that are striving to save.
Margaret Sherrard Sherraden is Professor of Social Work at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
Amanda Moore McBride is Assistant Professor of Social Work at Washington University, St. Louis.
An important study on the impact of poverty on health and the effect of poor health on national economies and human development
This is a fascinating, lively, and well-written book. The author has a clear message which she states at the beginning, namely, that health is primarily an economic, not a medical problem, and she follows that to the end.Keith Griffin, University of California, Riverside
Houses made of rags and flattened soda cans, filthy water that breeds disease, counterfeit medicines, no access to decent medical care how can children growing up in such an environment become productive workers contributing to a developing economy?
Stunted Lives, Stagnant Economies describes in vivid detail the living conditions of the poor in developing countries and the diseases and injuries that result from this environment of need. Most of the diseases that affect the poor cholera, summer diarrhea, tuberculosis, lice, worms, leprosy result from the poverty of their environment. Poverty also determines the availability and effectiveness of the medical response. Using Argentina as a case study, Eileen Stillwaggon argues that making good health available to everyone is not a scientific problem but an economic one.
The debt crisis of the 1980s and the subsequent structural adjustment policies adopted by most developing countries exacerbated the problems faced by the poor. What kind of future can a nation build when the health of the majority of the population its workforceÑis at risk or compromised because social services have been reduced? Without adequate health care and social services, people cannot live up to their potential, and the spiral of poverty continues. But there are ways to fight this cycle of poverty.
In old England, if a king didn’t like you, he would cut off your head. Now, if they don’t like you, they’ll cut off your project!
As the Johnson Administration initiated its war on poverty in the 1960s, the Mingo County Economic Opportunity Commission project was established in southern West Virginia. Huey Perry, a young, local history teacher was named the director of this program and soon he began to promote self-sufficiency among low-income and vulnerable populations. As the poor of Mingo County worked together to improve conditions, the local political infrastructure felt threatened by a shift in power. Bloody Mingo County, known for its violent labor movements, corrupt government, and the infamous Hatfield-McCoy rivalry, met Perry’s revolution with opposition and resistance.
In They’ll Cut Off Your Project, Huey Perry reveals his efforts to help the poor of an Appalachian community challenge a local regime. He describes this community’s attempts to improve school programs and conditions, establish cooperative grocery stores to bypass inflated prices, and expose electoral fraud. Along the way, Perry unfolds the local authority’s hostile backlash to such change and the extreme measures that led to an eventual investigation by the FBI. They’ll Cut Off Your Project chronicles the triumphs and failures of the war on poverty, illustrating why and how a local government that purports to work for the public’s welfare cuts off a project for social reform.
"I, without earning a penny, have to be the provider!" Thus Umm Ali sums up the nearly impossible challenge of her daily existence. Living in a poor neighborhood of Cairo, she has raised eight children with almost no help from her husband or the Egyptian government and through hardships from domestic violence to constant quarrels over material possessions.
Umm Ali's story is amazing not only for what it reveals about her resourcefulness but for the light it sheds on the resilience of Cairo's poor in the face of disastrous poverty. Like countless other poor people in Cairo, she has developed a personal buoyancy to cope with relentless economic need. It stems from a belief in the ability of people to shape their own destiny and helps explain why Cairo remains virtually free of the social ills—violent street crime and homelessness—that have eroded the lives of poor people in other major cities.
Unni Wikan first met Umm Ali and her family twenty-five years ago and has returned almost every year. She draws on her firsthand experience of their lives to create an intimate portrait of Cairo's back streets and the people who live there. Wikan's innovative approach to ethnographic writing reads like a novel that presents the experiences of Umm Ali's family and neighbors in their own words.
As Umm Ali recounts triumphs and defeats—from forming a savings club with neighbors to the gradual drifting away and eventual return of her husband—she unveils a deeply reflective attitude and her unwavering belief that she can improve her situation. Showing how Egyptian culture interprets poverty and family, this book attests to the capacity of an individual's self-worth to withstand incredible adversity.
In Twenty Years of Life, Suzanne Bohan exposes the disturbing flip side of the American dream: your health is largely determined by your zip code. The strain of living in a poor neighborhood, with sub-par schools, lack of parks, fear of violence, few to no healthy food options, and the stress of unpaid bills is literally taking years off people’s lives. The difference in life expectancy between wealthy and distressed neighborhoods can be as much as twenty years.
Bohan chronicles a bold experiment to challenge this inequity. The California Endowment, one of the nation’s largest health foundations, is upending the old-school, top-down charity model and investing $1 billion over ten years to help distressed communities advocate for their own interests. This new approach to community change draws on the latent political power of residents and is driving reform both locally and in the state’s legislative chambers. If it can work in fourteen of California’s most challenging and diverse communities, it has the potential to work anywhere in the country.
Bohan introduces us to former street shooters with official government jobs; kids who convinced their city council members to build skate parks; students and parents who demanded fairer school discipline policies to keep kids in the classroom; urban farmers who pushed for permits to produce and sell their food; and a Native American tribe that revived its traditional forest management practices. Told with compassion and insight, their stories will fundamentally change how we think about the root causes of disease and the prospects for healing.
Carolina Maria de Jesus' book, Quarto de Despejo (The Trash Room), depicted the harsh life of the slums, but it also spoke of the author's pride in her blackness, her high moral standards, and her patriotism. More than a million copies of her diary are believed to have been sold worldwide. Yet many Brazilians refused to believe that someone like de Jesus could have written such a diary, with its complicated words (some of them misused) and often lyrical phrasing as she discussed world events. Doubters prefer to believe the book was either written by Audáulio Dantas, the enterprising newspaper reporter who discovered her, or that Dantas rewrote it so substantially that her book is a fraud. With the cooperation of de Jesus' daughter, recent research shows that although Dantas deleted considerable portions of the diary (as well as a second one), every word was de Jesus'.
But Dantas did "create" a different Carolina from the woman who coped with her harsh life by putting things down on paper. This book sets the record straight by providing detailed translations of de Jesus' unedited diaries and explains why Brazilian elites were motivated to obscure her true personality and present her as something she was not. It is not only about the writer but about Brazil as recorded by her sarcastic pen. The diary entries in this book span from 1958 to 1966, five years beyond text previously known to exist. They show de Jesus as she was, preserving her Joycean stream-of-consciousness language and her pithy characterizations.
Urban Poverty, Political Participation, and the State offers an unparalleled longitudinal view of how the urban poor saw themselves and their neighborhoods and how they behaved and organized to provide their neighborhoods with basic goods and services. Grounding research on theoretical notions from Albert Hirschman and an analytical framework from Verba and Nie, Dietz produces findings that hold great interest for comparativists and students of political behavior in general.
Though many argue that the fall of Rome around 400 C.E. had little effect on the rural poor of the western Mediterranean, Karen Eva Carr argues persuasively to the contrary. Vandals to Visigoths shows how the empire's collapse significantly transformed the lives of rural people. Even after the dust settled from the Germanic invasions, landscape archaeology shows the surviving rural population defending themselves in isolated hill-forts and cut off from the larger Mediterranean world.
Vandals to Visigoths uses archaeological survey data as a springboard to a theoretical discussion of rural survival strategies in the non-industrial world and the ways in which these strategies are affected by government actions. Carr draws on historical, archaeological, and ethnographic comparanda to conclude that the larger, more powerful Roman government was more advantageous for the rural poor than the weaker Vandal and Visigothic regimes. Though Carr agrees that the lives of the rural people and the free slaves were miserable, she shows through her data and theory that they became even more wretched after the decline of the empire.
Vandals to Visigoths will appeal to historians of Rome, as well as of Early Medieval Europe and Spain. Anthropologists, economists, and political scientists who study Late Antiquity and the medieval period will also be interested, as it discusses the broader implications of the role of government in the lives of early medieval Spain's subjects.
Karen Eva Carr is Associate Professor of History, Portland State University.
For decades now, scholars and politicians alike have argued that the concentration of poverty in city housing projects would produce distrust, alienation, apathy, and social isolation—the disappearance of what sociologists call social capital. But relatively few have examined precisely how such poverty affects social capital or have considered for what reasons living in a poor neighborhood results in such undesirable effects.
This book examines a neglected Puerto Rican enclave in Boston to consider the pros and cons of social scientific thinking about the true nature of ghettos in America. Mario Luis Small dismantles the theory that poor urban neighborhoods are inevitably deprived of social capital. He shows that the conditions specified in this theory are vaguely defined and variable among poor communities. According to Small, structural conditions such as unemployment or a failed system of familial relations must be acknowledged as affecting the urban poor, but individual motivations and the importance of timing must be considered as well.
Brimming with fresh theoretical insights, Villa Victoria is an elegant work of sociology that will be essential to students of urban poverty.
The Voice of the Poor
John Kenneth Galbraith Harvard University Press, 1983 Library of Congress HC59.7.G312 1983 | Dewey Decimal 330.91724
What is surprising about these essays is not the insight and grace with which they are written--we have come to expect that--but the fact that nobody has expressed matters in quite this way before. John Kenneth Galbraith writes about what advice the poor nations (as, avoiding euphemism, he calls them) ought to offer to the more fortunate countries...In this little book there are essential lessons to ponder--for the governments of the rich countries, for those of the poor lands, and for the concerned citizens of both.
Table of Contents:
1. Of Wealth and Wisdom 2. The Constraints of Historical Process 3. The Second Imperial Requiem 4. The Military Nexus 5. Historical Process and the Rich Index
Reviews of this book: Piously but astutely, Galbraith hits the shared American and Soviet penchant for ignoring historical evolution in their rush to implant advanced capitalism or socialism in infant nations' economies. He lucidly shows how newly free nations with self-governing urges confound 'imperialist' politics. Finally, he assails the tragic stupidities inherent in U.S. and Soviet arms sales to poor countries, to conclude with prayers for the future. --Los Angeles Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: A concise and enlightened view of the currently most widely held theories on economic development. --Washington Post Book World
William M. Epstein charges that most current social welfare programs are not held to credible standards in their design or their results. Rather than spending less on such research and programs, however, Epstein suggests we should spend much more, and do the job right.
The American public and policymakers need to rely on social science research for objective, credible information when trying to solve problems of employment, affordable housing, effective health care, and family integrity. But, Epstein contends, politicians treat welfare issues as ideological battlegrounds; they demand immediate results from questionable data and implement policies long before social researchers can complete their analyses. Social scientists often play into the political agenda, supporting poorly conceived programs and doing little to test and revise them. Analyzing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the recent welfare reform act, Food Stamps, Medicaid, job training, social services, and other programs, Epstein systematically challenges the conservative’s vain hope that neglect is therapeutic for the poor, as well as the liberal’s conceit that a little bit of assistance is sufficient.
Over the last three decades, large-scale economic developments, such as technological change, the decline in unionization, and changing skill requirements, have exacted their biggest toll on low-wage workers. These workers often possess few marketable skills and few resources with which to support themselves during periods of economic transition. In Working and Poor, a distinguished group of economists and policy experts, headlined by editors Rebecca Blank, Sheldon Danziger, and Robert Schoeni, examine how economic and policy changes over the last twenty-five years have affected the well-being of low-wage workers and their families. Working and Poor examines every facet of the economic well-being of less-skilled workers, from employment and earnings opportunities to consumption behavior and social assistance policies. Rebecca Blank and Heidi Schierholz document the different trends in work and wages among less-skilled women and men. Between 1979 and 2003, labor force participation rose rapidly for these women, along with more modest increases in wages, while among the men both employment and wages fell. David Card and John DiNardo review the evidence on how technological changes have affected less-skilled workers and conclude that the effect has been smaller than many observers claim. Philip Levine examines the effectiveness of the Unemployment Insurance program during recessions. He finds that the program's eligibility rules, which deny benefits to workers who have not met minimum earnings requirements, exclude the very people who require help most and should be adjusted to provide for those with the highest need. On the other hand, Therese J. McGuire and David F. Merriman show that government help remains a valuable source of support during economic downturns. They find that during the most recent recession in 2001, when state budgets were stretched thin, legislatures resisted political pressure to cut spending for the poor. Working and Poor provides a valuable analysis of the role that public policy changes can play in improving the plight of the working poor. A comprehensive analysis of trends over the last twenty-five years, this book provides an invaluable reference for the public discussion of work and poverty in America. A Volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy