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
Battle for Bed-Stuy
Michael Woodsworth Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress HC108.N7.W66 2016 | Dewey Decimal 362.5561097471
In the 1960s Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood was labeled America’s largest ghetto. But its brownstones housed a coterie of black professionals intent on bringing order and hope to the community. In telling their story Michael Woodsworth reinterprets the War on Poverty by revealing its roots in local activism and policy experiments.
Social scientists have repeatedly uncovered a disturbing feature of economic inequality: people with larger incomes and better education tend to lead longer, healthier lives. This pattern holds across all ages and for virtually all measures of health, apparently indicating a biological dimension of inequality. But scholars have only begun to understand the complex mechanisms that drive this disparity. How exactly do financial well-being and human physiology interact? The Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities incorporates insights from the social and biological sciences to quantify the biology of disadvantage and to assess how poverty gets under the skin to impact health.
Drawing from unusually rich datasets of biomarkers, brain scans, and socioeconomic measures, Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities illustrates exciting new paths to understanding social inequalities in health. Barbara Wolfe, William N. Evans and Nancy Adler begin the volume with a critical evaluation of the literature on income and health, providing a lucid review of the difficulties of establishing clear causal pathways between the two variables. In their chapter, Arun S. Karlamangla, Tara L. Gruenewald, and Teresa E. Seeman outline the potential of biomarkers—such as cholesterol, heart pressure, and C-reactive protein—to assess and indicate the factors underlying health. Edith Chen, Hannah M. C. Schreier, and Meanne Chan reveal the empirical power of biomarkers by examining asthma, a condition steeply correlated with socioeconomic status. Their analysis shows how stress at the individual, family, and neighborhood levels can increase the incidence of asthma. The volume then turns to cognitive neuroscience, using biomarkers in a new way to examine the impact of poverty on brain development. Jamie Hanson, Nicole Hair, Amitabh Chandra, Ed Moss, Jay Bhattacharya, Seth D. Pollack, and Barbara Wolfe use a longitudinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) study of children between the ages of four and eighteen to study the link between poverty and limited cognition among children. Michelle C. Carlson, Christopher L. Seplaki, and Teresa E. Seeman also focus on brain development to examine the role of socioeconomic status in cognitive decline among older adults.
Featuring insights from the biological and social sciences, Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities will be an essential resource for scholars interested in socioeconomic disparities and the biological imprint that material deprivation leaves on the human body.
Britain's War on Poverty
Jane Waldfogel Russell Sage Foundation, 2010 Library of Congress HV751.A6W34 2010 | Dewey Decimal 362.7
In 1999, one in four British children lived in poverty—the third highest child poverty rate among industrialized countries. Five years later, the child poverty rate in Britain had fallen by more than half in absolute terms. How did the British government accomplish this and what can the United States learn from the British experience? Jane Waldfogel offers a sharp analysis of the New Labour government’s anti-poverty agenda, its dramatic early success and eventual stalled progress. Comparing Britain’s anti-poverty initiative to U.S. welfare reform, the book shows how the policies of both countries have affected child poverty, living standards, and well-being in low-income families and suggests next steps for future reforms.
Britain’s War on Poverty evaluates the three-pronged anti-poverty strategy employed by the British government and what these efforts accomplished. British reforms sought to promote work and make work pay, to increase financial support for families with children, and to invest in the health, early-life development, and education of children. The latter two features set the British reforms apart from the work-oriented U.S. welfare reforms, which did not specifically target income or program supports for children. Plagued by premature initiatives and what some experts called an overly ambitious agenda, the British reforms fell short of their intended goal but nevertheless significantly increased single-parent employment, raised incomes for low-income families, and improved child outcomes. Poverty has fallen, and the pattern of low-income family expenditures on child enrichment and healthy food has begun to converge with higher-income families.
As Waldfogel sees it, further success in reducing child poverty in Britain will rely on understanding who is poor and who is at highest risk. More than half of poor children live in families where at least one parent is working, followed by unemployed single- and two-parent homes, respectively. Poverty rates are also notably higher for children with disabled parents, large families, and for Pakistani and Bangladeshi children. Based on these demographics, Waldfogel argues that future reforms must, among other goals, raise working-family incomes, provide more work for single parents, and better engage high-risk racial and ethnic minority groups.
What can the United States learn from the British example? Britain’s War on Poverty is a primer in the triumphs and pitfalls of protracted policy. Notable differences distinguish the British and U.S. models, but Waldfogel asserts that a future U.S. poverty agenda must specifically address child poverty and the income inequality that helps create it. By any measurement and despite obstacles, Britain has significantly reduced child poverty. The book’s key lesson is that it can be done.
The connections among vagabondage and human labor, mobility, status, and behavior have placed vagrancy at the crossroads of a multitude of political, social, and economic processes. Vagrancy and homelessness have been used to examine a vast array of phenomena, from the migration of labor to socital and governmental responses to poverty through charity, welfare, and prosecution. Cast Out: Vagrancy and Homelessness in Global and Historical Perspective is the first book to consider the shared global heritage of vagrancy laws, homelessness, and the historical processes they accompanied.
Cast Out attempts to bridge some of the divides that have discouraged a world history of vagrancy and homelessness. This ambitious collection spans eight centuries, five continents, and several academic disciplines.
The essays include discussions of the lives of the underclass, strategies for surviving and escaping poverty, the criminalization of poverty by the state, the rise of welfare and development programs, the relationship between imperial powers and colonized peoples, and the struggle to achieve independence after colonial rule. By juxtaposing these histories, the authors explore vagrancy as a common response to poverty, labor dilocation, and changing social norms, as well as how this strategy changed over time and adapted to regional peculiarities.
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.
After two decades of marketizing, an array of national and international actors have become concerned with growing global inequality, the failure to reduce the numbers of very poor people in the world, and a perceived global backlash against international economic institutions. This new concern with poverty reduction and the political participation of excluded groups has set the stage for a new politics of inclusion within nations and in the international arena. The essays in this volume explore what forms the new politics of inclusion can take in low- and middle-income countries. The contributors favor a polity-centered approach that focuses on the political capacities of social and state actors to negotiate large-scale collective solutions and that highlights various possible strategies to lift large numbers of people out of poverty and political subordination.
The contributors suggest there is little basis for the radical polycentrism that colors so much contemporary development thought. They focus on how the political capabilities of different societal and state actors develop over time and how their development is influenced by state action and a variety of institutional and other factors. The final chapter draws insightful conclusions about the political limitations and opportunities presented by current international discourse on poverty.
Peter P. Houtzager is a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. He has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Latin American Studies, University of California, Berkeley, visiting lecturer at Stanford University, and lecturer at St. Mary's College. A political scientist with broad training in comparative politics and historical-institutional analysis, he has written extensively on the institutional roots of collective action.
Mick Moore is a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, as well as Director of the Centre for the Future State. He has been a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His professional interests include political and institutional aspects of poverty reduction and of economic policy and performance, the politics and administration of development, and good government.
Poverty declined significantly in the decade after Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 declaration of “War on Poverty.” Dramatically increased federal funding for education and training programs, social security benefits, other income support programs, and a growing economy reduced poverty and raised expectations that income poverty could be eliminated within a generation. Yet the official poverty rate has never fallen below its 1973 level and remains higher than the rates in many other advanced economies. In this book, editors Maria Cancian and Sheldon Danziger and leading poverty researchers assess why the War on Poverty was not won and analyze the most promising strategies to reduce poverty in the twenty-first century economy.
Changing Poverty, Changing Policies documents how economic, social, demographic, and public policy changes since the early 1970s have altered who is poor and where antipoverty initiatives have kept pace or fallen behind. Part I shows that little progress has been made in reducing poverty, except among the elderly, in the last three decades. The chapters examine how changing labor market opportunities for less-educated workers have increased their risk of poverty (Rebecca Blank), and how family structure changes (Maria Cancian and Deborah Reed) and immigration have affected poverty (Steven Raphael and Eugene Smolensky). Part II assesses the ways childhood poverty influences adult outcomes. Markus Jäntti finds that poor American children are more likely to be poor adults than are children in many other industrialized countries. Part III focuses on current antipoverty policies and possible alternatives. Jane Waldfogel demonstrates that policies in other countries—such as sick leave, subsidized child care, and schedule flexibility—help low-wage parents better balance work and family responsibilities. Part IV considers how rethinking and redefining poverty might take antipoverty policies in new directions. Mary Jo Bane assesses the politics of poverty since the 1996 welfare reform act. Robert Haveman argues that income-based poverty measures should be expanded, as they have been in Europe, to include social exclusion and multiple dimensions of material hardships.
Changing Poverty, Changing Policies shows that thoughtful policy reforms can reduce poverty and promote opportunities for poor workers and their families. The authors’ focus on pragmatic measures that have real possibilities of being implemented in the United States not only provides vital knowledge about what works but real hope for change.
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.
This collection of essays challenges long-entrenched ideas about the history, nature, and significance of the informal neighborhoods that house the vast majority of Latin America's urban poor. Until recently, scholars have mainly viewed these settlements through the prisms of crime and drug-related violence, modernization and development theories, populist or revolutionary politics, or debates about the cultures of poverty. Yet shantytowns have proven both more durable and more multifaceted than any of these perspectives foresaw. Far from being accidental offshoots of more dynamic economic and political developments, they are now a permanent and integral part of Latin America's urban societies, critical to struggles over democratization, economic transformation, identity politics, and the drug and arms trades. Integrating historical, cultural, and social scientific methodologies, this collection brings together recent research from across Latin America, from the informal neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, Managua and Buenos Aires. Amid alarmist exposés, Cities from Scratch intervenes by considering Latin American shantytowns at a new level of interdisciplinary complexity.
Contributors. Javier Auyero, Mariana Cavalcanti, Ratão Diniz, Emilio Duhau, Sujatha Fernandes, Brodwyn Fischer, Bryan McCann, Edward Murphy, Dennis Rodgers
Uses Calcutta as a site for the exploration of persistent structures of deprivation and want.
Housing developments emerge amid the paddy fields on the fringes of Calcutta; overflowing trains carry peasant women to informal urban labor markets in a daily commute against hunger; land is settled and claimed in a complex choreography of squatting and evictions: such, Ananya Roy contends, are the distinctive spaces of a communism for the new millennium-where, at a moment of liberalization, the hegemony of poverty is quietly reproduced. An ethnography of urban development in Calcutta, Roy's book explores the dynamics of class and gender in the persistence of poverty.
City Requiem, Calcutta emphasizes how gender itself is spatialized, and how gender relations are negotiated within the geopolitics of modernity and through the everyday practices of territory. Thus Roy shows how urban developmentalism, in its populist guise, reproduces the relations of masculinist patronage, and, in its entrepreneurial guise, seeks to reclaim a bourgeois Calcutta, gentlemanly in its nostalgias. In doing so, her work expands the field of poverty studies by showing how a politics of poverty is also a poverty of knowledge, a construction and management of social and spatial categories.
Ananya Roy is assistant professor of urban studies in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley.
There are approximately half a million people living in 227 officially designated colonias in southern Arizona and New Mexico. These border communities are characterized by poor-quality housing, a lack of infrastructure (paved roads, water and sewer systems, and electricity), high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a disproportionate concentration of Hispanics. These colonias comprise one of the country’s largest pockets of poverty. Even so, little is known about these towns or the people who live in them. This book provides the first comprehensive treatment of Arizona and New Mexico colonias, with the aim of increasing their visibility and promoting community development.
Beginning with an examination of the origins of border region settlement and the emergence of colonias in southern Arizona and New Mexico in the late 1800s, the book then turns to an assessment of current social, economic, and housing conditions. The authors also examine how Mexico’s recent economic crises and U.S. immigration and border security policies have shaped the quality of life in colonias, and they evaluate recent community development initiatives. By examining the challenges and successes of these recent efforts, the authors are able to provide a generalized plan for community development. Balancing analyses of these communities with a review of the positive steps taken to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants, Colonias in Arizona and New Mexico is an indispensable tool for anyone interested in public policy or immigration issues.
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
One in five American children now live in families with incomes below the povertyline, and their prospects are not bright. Low income is statistically linked with a variety of poor outcomes for children, from low birth weight and poor nutrition in infancy to increased chances of academic failure, emotional distress, and unwed childbirth in adolescence. To address these problems it is not enough to know that money makes a difference; we need to understand how. Consequences of Growing Up Poor is an extensive and illuminating examination of the paths through which economic deprivation damages children at all stages of their development.
In Consequences of Growing Up Poor, developmental psychologists, economists, and sociologists revisit a large body of studies to answer specific questions about how low income puts children at risk intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Many of their investigations demonstrate that although income clearly creates disadvantages, it does so selectively and in a wide variety of ways. Low-income preschoolers exhibit poorer cognitive and verbal skills because they are generally exposed to fewer toys, books, and other stimulating experiences in the home. Poor parents also tend to rely on home-based child care, where the quality and amount of attention children receive is inferior to that of professional facilities. In later years, conflict between economically stressed parents increases anxiety and weakens self-esteem in their teenaged children.
Although they share economic hardships, the home lives of poor children are not homogenous. Consequences of Growing Up Poor investigates whether such family conditions as the marital status, education, and involvement of parents mitigate the ill effects of poverty. Consequences of Growing Up Poor also looks at the importance of timing: Does being poor have a different impact on preschoolers, children, and adolescents? When are children most vulnerable to poverty? Some contributors find that poverty in the prenatal or early childhood years appears to be particularly detrimental to cognitive development and physical health. Others offer evidence that lower income has a stronger negative effect during adolescence than in childhood or adulthood.
Based on their findings, the editors and contributors to Consequences of Growing Up Poor recommend more sharply focused child welfare policies targeted to specific eras and conditions of poor children's lives. They also weigh the relative need for income supplements, child care subsidies, and home interventions. Consequences of Growing Up Poor describes the extent and causes of hardships for poor children, defines the interaction between income and family, and offers solutions to improve young lives.
JEANNE BROOKS-GUNN is Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is also director of the Center for Young Children and Families, and co-directs the Adolescent Study Program at Teachers College.
Conservatives often condemn the poor, particularly African-Americans, for having children out of wedlock, joblessness, dropping out of school, or tolerating crime. Liberals counter that, with more economic opportunity, the poor differ little from the nonpoor in these areas. In answer to both, Coping with Poverty points to the survival strategies of the poor and their multiple roles as parents, neighbors, relatives, and workers. Their attempts to balance multiple obligations occur within a context of limited information, social support, and resources. Their decisions may not always be the wisest, but they "make sense" in context.
Contributors use qualitative research methods to explore the influence of community, workplace, and family upon strategies for dealing with poverty. Promising young scholars delve into poor black inner-city neighborhoods and suburbs and middle-income black urban communities, exploring experiences at all stages of life, including high-school students, young parents, employed older men, and unemployed mothers. Two chapters discuss the role of qualitative research in poverty studies, specifically examining how this research can be used to improve policymaking.
The volume's contribution is in the diversity of experiences it highlights and in how the general themes it illustrates are similar across different age/gender groups. The book also suggests an approach to policymaking that seeks to incorporate the experiences and the needs of the poor themselves, in the hope of creating more successful and more relevant poverty policy. It is especially useful for undergraduate and graduate courses in sociology, public policy, urban studies, and African-American Studies, as its scope makes it THE basic reader of qualitative studies of poverty.
Sheldon Danziger is Director of the Poverty Research and Tranining Center and Professor of Social Work and Public Policy, University of Michigan. Ann Chih Lin is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Michigan.
We hear plenty about the widening income gap between the rich and the poor in America and about the expanding distance separating the haves and the have-nots. But when detailing the many things that the poor have not, we often overlook the most critical—their health. The poor die sooner. Blacks die sooner. And poor urban blacks die sooner than almost all other Americans. In nearly four decades as a doctor at hospitals serving some of the poorest communities in Chicago, David Ansell has witnessed firsthand the lives behind these devastating statistics. In The Death Gap, he gives a grim survey of these realities, drawn from observations and stories of his patients.
While the contrasts and disparities among Chicago’s communities are particularly stark, the death gap is truly a nationwide epidemic—as Ansell shows, there is a thirty-five-year difference in life expectancy between the healthiest and wealthiest and the poorest and sickest American neighborhoods. If you are poor, where you live in America can dictate when you die. It doesn’t need to be this way; such divisions are not inevitable. Ansell calls out the social and cultural arguments that have been raised as ways of explaining or excusing these gaps, and he lays bare the structural violence—the racism, economic exploitation, and discrimination—that is really to blame. Inequality is a disease, Ansell argues, and we need to treat and eradicate it as we would any major illness. To do so, he outlines a vision that will provide the foundation for a healthier nation—for all.
Inequality is all around us, and often the distance between high and low life expectancy can be a matter of just a few blocks. But geography need not be destiny, urges Ansell. In The Death Gap he shows us how we can face this national health crisis head-on and take action against the circumstances that rob people of their dignity and their lives.
Teen childbearing has risen to frighteningly high levels over the last four decades, jeopardizing the life chances of young parents and their offspring alike, particularly among minority communities. Or at least, that’s what politicians on the right and left often tell us, and what the American public largely believes. But sociologist Frank Furstenberg argues that the conventional wisdom distorts reality. In Destinies of the Disadvantaged, Furstenberg traces the history of public concern over teen pregnancy, exploring why this topic has become so politically powerful, and so misunderstood.
Based on over forty years of Furstenberg’s research on teen childbearing, Destinies of the Disadvantaged relates how the issue emerged from obscurity to become one of the most heated social controversies in America. Both slipshod research by social scientists and opportunistic grandstanding by politicians have contributed to public misunderstanding of the issue. Although out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy rose notably between 1960 and 1990—a cause for concern given the burdens of single motherhood at a young age—this trend did not reflect a rise in the rate of overall teen pregnancies. In fact, teen pregnancy actually declined dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s. The number of unmarried teenage mothers rose after 1960, not because more young women became pregnant, but because those who did increasingly chose not to rush into marriage. Furstenberg shows how early social science research on this topic exaggerated the adverse consequences of early parenthood both for young parents and for their children. Researchers also inaccurately portrayed single teenage motherhood as a phenomenon concentrated among minorities. Both of these misapprehensions skewed subsequent political debates. The issue became a public obsession and remained so during the 1990s, even as rates of out-of-wedlock teen childbearing plummeted. Addressing teen pregnancy was originally a liberal cause, led by advocates of family planning services, legalized abortion, and social welfare programs for single mothers. The issue was later adopted by conservatives, who argued that those liberal remedies were encouraging teen parenthood. According to Furstenberg, the flexible political usefulness of the issue explains its hold on political discourse.
The politics of teen parenthood is a fascinating case study in the abuse of social science for political ends. In Destinies of the Disadvantaged, Furstenberg brings that tale to life with the perspective of a historian and the insight of an insider, and provides the straight facts needed to craft effective policies to address teen pregnancy.
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.
The Displaced of Capital
Anne Winters University of Chicago Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3573.I539D57 2004 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Winner of the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.
The long-awaited follow-up to The Key to the City—a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986—Anne Winters's The Displaced of Capital emanates a quiet and authoritative passion for social justice, embodying the voice of a subtle, sophisticated conscience.
The "displaced" in the book's title refers to the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised who populate New York, the city that serves at once as gritty backdrop, city of dreams, and urban nightmare. Winters also addresses the culturally, ethnically, and emotionally excluded and, in these politically sensitive poems, writes without sentimentality of a cityscape of tenements and immigrants, offering her poetry as a testament to the lives of have-nots. In the central poem, Winters witnesses the relationship between two women of disparate social classes whose friendship represents the poet's political convictions. With poems both powerful and musical, The Displaced of Capital marks Anne Winters's triumphant return and assures her standing as an essential New York poet.
Who really benefits from urban revival? Cities, from trendy coastal areas to the nation’s heartland, are seeing levels of growth beyond the wildest visions of only a few decades ago. But vast areas in the same cities house thousands of people living in poverty who see little or no new hope or opportunity. Even as cities revive, they are becoming more unequal and more segregated. What does this mean for these cities—and the people who live in them?
In The Divided City, urban practitioner and scholar Alan Mallach shows us what has happened over the past 15 to 20 years in industrial cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, and Baltimore, as they have undergone unprecedented, unexpected revival. He draws from his decades of experience working in America’s cities, and pulls in insightful research and data, to spotlight these changes while placing them in their larger economic, social, and political context. Mallach explores the pervasive significance of race in American cities and looks closely at the successes and failures of city governments, nonprofit entities, and citizens as they have tried to address the challenges of change.
The Divided City offers strategies to foster greater equality and opportunity. Mallach makes a compelling case that these strategies must be local in addition to being concrete and focusing on people’s needs—education, jobs, housing and quality of life. Change, he argues, will come city by city, not through national plans or utopian schemes.
This is the first book to provide a comprehensive, grounded picture of the transformation of America’s older industrial cities. It is neither a dystopian narrative nor a one-sided "the cities are back" story, but a balanced picture rooted in the nitty-gritty reality of these cities. The Divided City is imperative for anyone who cares about cities and who wants to understand how to make today’s urban revival work for everyone.
Across the United States tens of millions of people are working forty or more hours a week...and living in poverty. This is surprising in a country where politicians promise that anyone who does their share, and works hard, will get ahead. In Ending Poverty As We Know It, William Quigley argues that it is time to make good on that promise by adding to the Constitution language that insures those who want to work can do so—and at a wage that enables them to afford reasonable shelter, clothing, and food.
Now in paperback, this challenging and provocative book strips the veneer from the financial advice of some popular evangelical media celebrities and advocates a reintegrating of faith and finances.
Faithful Finances 101 is a first-person narrative by outspoken advocate of faith-based investing. A senior vice president of investments at Paine Webber before founding his own investment firm as "counsel to ethical and spiritual investors," Gary Moore warns that much of the economic advice emanating from some popular and influential evangelical authors and speakers is based on scare tactics and distortions of what the Bible has to say about finances. He draws on fifty years of studying the Bible, politics, and economics, and presents insights for those who want to be faithful in their finances—to use 100 percent of the time, talent, and treasure with which they have been entrusted for the glory of God as well as for the benefit of others and themselves, and not just give 10 percent of their incomes to the church.
"Many financial gurus are ignorant of spiritual matters. Many spiritual leaders are ignorant of financial matters. In a rare blend, Gary Moore brings together proven financial expertise with mature spiritual insights. This book is a must read for those who care about managing their finances faithfully." —David W. Miller, PhD, Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale Divinity School
"The book is hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and intellectually challenging, offering a Christian view of macroeconomics rather than a mere how-to guide for personal finance." —Publishers Weekly
How did the land of the free become the home of the world’s largest prison system? Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: not the War on Drugs of the Reagan administration but the War on Crime that began during Johnson’s Great Society at the height of the civil rights era.
In Give a Man a Fish James Ferguson examines the rise of social welfare programs in southern Africa, in which states make cash payments to their low income citizens. More than thirty percent of South Africa's population receive such payments, even as pundits elsewhere proclaim the neoliberal death of the welfare state. These programs' successes at reducing poverty under conditions of mass unemployment, Ferguson argues, provide an opportunity for rethinking contemporary capitalism and for developing new forms of political mobilization. Interested in an emerging "politics of distribution," Ferguson shows how new demands for direct income payments (including so-called "basic income") require us to reexamine the relation between production and distribution, and to ask new questions about markets, livelihoods, labor, and the future of progressive politics.
Globalization and Poverty
Edited by Ann Harrison University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress HC79.P6G664 2007 | Dewey Decimal 339.46
Over the past two decades, the percentage of the world’s population living on less than a dollar a day has been cut in half. How much of that improvement is because of—or in spite of—globalization? While anti-globalization activists mount loud critiques and the media report breathlessly on globalization’s perils and promises, economists have largely remained silent, in part because of an entrenched institutional divide between those who study poverty and those who study trade and finance.
Globalization and Poverty bridges that gap, bringing together experts on both international trade and poverty to provide a detailed view of the effects of globalization on the poor in developing nations, answering such questions as: Do lower import tariffs improve the lives of the poor? Has increased financial integration led to more or less poverty? How have the poor fared during various currency crises? Does food aid hurt or help the poor?
Poverty, the contributors show here, has been used as a popular and convenient catchphrase by parties on both sides of the globalization debate to further their respective arguments. Globalization and Poverty provides the more nuanced understanding necessary to move that debate beyond the slogans.
The textile industry was one of the first manufacturing activities to become organized globally, as mechanized production in Europe used cotton from the various colonies. Africa, the least developed of the world’s major regions, is now increasingly engaged in the production of this crop for the global market, and debates about the pros and cons of this trend have intensified.
Hanging by a Thread: Cotton, Globalization, and Poverty in Africa illuminates the connections between Africa and the global economy. The editors offer a compelling set of linked studies that detail one aspect of the globalization process in Africa, the cotton commodity chain.
From global policy debates, to impacts on the natural environment, to the economic and social implications of this process, Hanging by a Thread explores cotton production in the postcolonial period from different disciplinary perspectives and in a range of national contexts. This approach makes the globalization process palpable by detailing how changes at the macroeconomic level play out on the ground in the world’s poorest region. Hanging by a Thread offers new insights on the region in a global context and provides a critical perspective on current and future development policy for Africa.
A first-person look at the challenges and cultural perceptions confronting homeless women.
Homeless Mothers follows the lives of mothers on the margins and asks where they fit in the increasingly black-and-white model of motherhood set up by society. Their voices, so rarely heard and so often ignored, resonate throughout this book. Both an anthropologist in the field and a social worker on the job, Deborah R. Connolly is ideally placed to draw out these women's life stories. Using their own words, by turns eloquent and awkward, poignant and harsh, she maps the perilous territory between the promise of childhood and the hard reality of motherhood on the street. What emerges is a glimpse of the cultural, class, gender, and economic challenges these women experience, a glimpse as real for us as the headlines and stereotypes that so often displace homeless mothers and consign them to silence.
"Connolly explores in rich detail the day-to-day experiences of women who use family shelters. Homeless Mothers is an insider's view on poverty and homelessness from the standpoint of mothers, families, and the social service providers who work with them. Connolly uses ethnographic methods and skills worthy of a good fiction writer to portray the daily lives, struggles, and intricate negotiations of homeless mothers." --Housing Studies
Deborah R. Connolly is an advocate for the homeless and a senior research associate at Edgewood Center for Children and Families in San Francisco. She recently taught cultural anthropology at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
I’m Neither Here nor There explores how immigration influences the construction of family, identity, and community among Mexican Americans and migrants from Mexico. Based on long-term ethnographic research, Patricia Zavella describes how poor and working-class Mexican Americans and migrants to California’s central coast struggle for agency amid the region’s deteriorating economic conditions and the rise of racial nativism in the United States. Zavella also examines tensions within the Mexican diaspora based on differences in legal status, generation, gender, sexuality, and language. She proposes “peripheral vision” to describe the sense of displacement and instability felt by Mexican Americans and Mexicans who migrate to the United States as well as by their family members in Mexico.
Drawing on close interactions with Mexicans on both sides of the border, Zavella examines migrant journeys to and within the United States, gendered racialization, and exploitation at workplaces, and the challenges that migrants face in forming and maintaining families. As she demonstrates, the desires of migrants to express their identities publicly and to establish a sense of cultural memory are realized partly through Latin American and Chicano protest music, and Mexican and indigenous folks songs played by musicians and cultural activists.
The rapid rise in the proportion of foreign-born residents in the United States since the mid-1960s is one of the most important demographic events of the past fifty years. The increase in immigration, especially among the less-skilled and less-educated, has prompted fears that the newcomers may have depressed the wages and employment of the native-born, burdened state and local budgets, and slowed the U.S. economy as a whole. Would the poverty rate be lower in the absence of immigration? How does the undocumented status of an increasing segment of the foreign-born population impact wages in the United States? In Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality, noted labor economists David Card and Steven Raphael and an interdisciplinary team of scholars provide a comprehensive assessment of the costs and benefits of the latest era of immigration to the United States
Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality rigorously explores shifts in population trends, labor market competition, and socioeconomic segregation to investigate how the recent rise in immigration affects economic disadvantage in the United States. Giovanni Peri analyzes the changing skill composition of immigrants to the United States over the past two decades to assess their impact on the labor market outcomes of native-born workers. Despite concerns over labor market competition, he shows that the overall effect has been benign for most native groups. Moreover, immigration appears to have had negligible impacts on native poverty rates. Ethan Lewis examines whether differences in English proficiency explain this lack of competition between immigrant and native-born workers. He finds that parallel Spanish-speaking labor markets emerge in areas where Spanish speakers are sufficiently numerous, thereby limiting the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born residents. While the increase in the number of immigrants may not necessarily hurt the job prospects of native-born workers, low-skilled migration appears to suppress the wages of immigrants themselves. Michael Stoll shows that linguistic isolation and residential crowding in specific metropolitan areas has contributed to high poverty rates among immigrants. Have these economic disadvantages among low-skilled immigrants increased their dependence on the U.S. social safety net? Marianne Bitler and Hilary Hoynes analyze the consequences of welfare reform, which limited eligibility for major cash assistance programs. Their analysis documents sizable declines in program participation for foreign-born families since the 1990s and suggests that the safety net has become less effective in lowering child poverty among immigrant households.
As the debate over immigration reform reemerges on the national agenda, Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality provides a timely and authoritative review of the immigrant experience in the United States. With its wealth of data and intriguing hypotheses, the volume is an essential addition to the field of immigration studies.
A Volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy
The sociologist Thomas Sowell writes, "We need to confront the most blatant fact that has persisted across centuries of social history—vast ddifferences in productivity among peoples, and the economic and other consequences of such differences." Poverty demeans dignity, shrinks the soul, wastes potential, and inflicts suffering on three billion people on our planet. We must also acknowledge that, during the past fifty yyears, the record in international assistance to the least developed countries has been disappointing; the economics-based abstractions developed in the think tanks of Europe and North America are insufficient.
In the River They Swim is the antithesis to that search for solutions the next big theory of global poverty. From the fresh perspective of advisors on the frontlines of development to the insight of leaders like President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Pastor Rick Warren, it tells the story of change in the microcosms of emerging businesses, industries, and governments. These essays display a personal nature to their work that rigorous analysis alone cannot explain.
We learn that a Sufi master can teach us about the different levels of knowledge, the "different ways to know a river." These practitioners could have written about its length, its source, its depth, its width, the power of its current, and the life it contains. They could have invested time and money to travel to that river so that they could sit on its shores and look at it, feel the sand that borders it, and watch the birds at play over it. Instead, they dove in to swim in the river, felt its current along their bodies, and tasted something of it. They wondered, briefly, if they had the strength to swim its length, and now they share the answer.
If human development is a river, the authors in this volume, and perhaps some readers, will no longer be satisfied to stand along its banks.
Anthony B. Atkinson Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress HC79.I5A822 2015 | Dewey Decimal 339.22
Inequality and poverty have returned with a vengeance in recent decades. To reduce them, we need fresh ideas that move beyond taxes on the wealthy. Anthony B. Atkinson offers ambitious new policies in technology, employment, social security, sharing of capital, and taxation, and he defends them against the common arguments and excuses for inaction.
For over twenty-five years, Charles C. Ragin has developed Qualitative Comparative Analysis and related set-analytic techniques as a means of bridging qualitative and quantitative methods of research. Now, with Peer C. Fiss, Ragin uses these impressive new tools to unravel the varied conditions affecting life chances.
Ragin and Fiss begin by taking up the controversy regarding the relative importance of test scores versus socioeconomic background on life chances, a debate that has raged since the 1994 publication of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s TheBell Curve. In contrast to prior work, Ragin and Fiss bring an intersectional approach to the evidence, analyzing the different ways that advantages and disadvantages combine in their impact on life chances. Moving beyond controversy and fixed policy positions, the authors propose sophisticated new methods of analysis to underscore the importance of attending to configurations of race, gender, family background, educational achievement, and related conditions when addressing social inequality in America today.
As the distribution of wealth between rich and poor in the United States grew more and more unequal over the past twenty years, this economic gap assumed a life of its own in the popular culture. The news and entertainment media increasingly portrayed the lives of the poor with such stereotypes as the lazy welfare mother and the thuggish teen, offering Americans few ways to learn how the "other half" really lives. Laboring Below the Line works to bridge this gap by synthesizing a wide range of qualitative scholarship on the working poor. The result is a coherent, nuanced portrait of how life is lived below the poverty line, and a compelling analysis of the systemic forces in which poverty is embedded, and through which it is perpetuated.
Laboring Below the Line explores the role of interpretive research in understanding the causes and effects of poverty. Drawing on perspectives of the working poor, welfare recipients, and marginally employed men and women, the contributors—an interdisciplinary roster of ethnographers, oral historians, qualitative sociologists, and narrative analysts—dissect the life circumstances that affect the personal outlook, ability to work, and expectations for the future of these people. For example, Carol Stack views the work aspirations of an Oakland teenager for whom a job is important, even though it strains her academic performance. And Ruth Buchanan looks at low-wage telemarketing workers who are attempting to move up the economic ladder while balancing family, education, and other important commitments. What emerges is a compelling picture of low-wage workers—one that illustrates the precarious circumstances of individuals struggling with the economic conditions and institutions that surround them Each chapter also explores the capacity for economic survival from a different angle, with ancillary commentary complementing the ethnographies with perspectives from other fields of study, such as economics.
At this moment of governmental retrenchment, ethnography's complex, nonstereotypical portraits of individual people fighting against poverty are especially important. Laboring Below the Line reveals the ambiguities of real lives, the potential for individuals to change in unexpected ways, and the even greater intricacy of the collective life of a community.
Many believe that the War on Poverty, launched by President Johnson in 1964, ended in failure. In 2010, the official poverty rate was 15 percent, almost as high as when the War on Poverty was declared. Historical and contemporary accounts often portray the War on Poverty as a costly experiment that created doubts about the ability of public policies to address complex social problems. Legacies of the War on Poverty, drawing from fifty years of empirical evidence, documents that this popular view is too negative. The volume offers a balanced assessment of the War on Poverty that highlights some remarkable policy successes and promises to shift the national conversation on poverty in America.
Featuring contributions from leading poverty researchers, Legacies of the War on Poverty demonstrates that poverty and racial discrimination would likely have been much greater today if the War on Poverty had not been launched. Chloe Gibbs, Jens Ludwig, and Douglas Miller dispel the notion that the Head Start education program does not work. While its impact on children’s test scores fade, the program contributes to participants’ long-term educational achievement and, importantly, their earnings growth later in life. Elizabeth Cascio and Sarah Reber show that Title I legislation reduced the school funding gap between poorer and richer states and prompted Southern school districts to desegregate, increasing educational opportunity for African Americans.
The volume also examines the significant consequences of income support, housing, and health care programs. Jane Waldfogel shows that without the era’s expansion of food stamps and other nutrition programs, the child poverty rate in 2010 would have been three percentage points higher. Kathleen McGarry examines the policies that contributed to a great success of the War on Poverty: the rapid decline in elderly poverty, which fell from 35 percent in 1959 to below 10 percent in 2010. Barbara Wolfe concludes that Medicaid and Community Health Centers contributed to large reductions in infant mortality and increased life expectancy. Katherine Swartz finds that Medicare and Medicaid increased access to health care among the elderly and reduced the risk that they could not afford care or that obtaining it would bankrupt them and their families.
Legacies of the War on Poverty demonstrates that well-designed government programs can reduce poverty, racial discrimination, and material hardships. This insightful volume refutes pessimism about the effects of social policies and provides new lessons about what more can be done to improve the lives of the poor.
Randall Platt Texas Tech University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PZ7.P7120Lib 2012
Like most everybody else in the middle of the Great Depression, fifteen-year-old Liberty Justice Jones is, well, stuck. But living smack-dab in the Lost Pines of Texas, where any fool can walk into the forest and chop a tree for free, with a debt-burdened mom who’s trying to make a go of this newfangled idea of a Christmas tree farm—that’s stuck bad. Especially if your dream is college.Liberty’s younger brother, Jefferson, is no help, and neither is their addled grandmother. Liberty’s only hope is her own wits. But if she’s so smart, she wonders, why can’t she figure out a way to help their family and get off this wreck of a farm?Learning of the five-hundred-dollar prize for the most beautiful Christmas tree delivered to the state capitol, Liberty hatches a plot. With the aid of their aging draft horse, Quiller, their derelict tractor, Stella, and Rudy, a kid pulled between America and Mexico and fresh off the rails, she’s determined to move a twenty-five-foot tree all the way to Austin in the snow and ice—without getting caught.With the sparkling dialogue and spunky humor that fans have come to love in her heroines, and a perceptive eye and ear for historical detail, award-winning author Randall Platt takes readers young and old on a spirited adventure set in a time when dreams were all many folks had.
The sense that well-being remains elusive, transitory, and unevenly distributed is felt by the rich as well as the poor, and in all societies. To explore this condition of existential dissatisfaction, the anthropologist Michael Jackson traveled to Sierra Leone, described in a recent UN report as the “least livable” country in the world. There he revisited the village where he did his first ethnographic fieldwork in 1969–70 and lived in 1979. Jackson writes that Africans have always faced forces from without that imperil their lives and livelihoods. Though these forces have assumed different forms at different times—slave raiding, warfare, epidemic illness, colonial domination, state interference, economic exploitation, and corrupt government—they are subject to the same mix of magical and practical reactions that affluent Westerners deploy against terrorist threats, illegal immigration, market collapse, and economic recession. Both the problem of well-being and the question of what makes life worthwhile are grounded in the mystery of existential discontent—the question as to why human beings, regardless of their external circumstances, are haunted by a sense of insufficiency and loss. While philosophers have often asked the most searching questions regarding the human condition, Jackson suggests that ethnographic method offers one of the most edifying ways of actually exploring those questions.
Scholars have made urban mothers living in poverty a focus of their research for decades. These women’s lives can be difficult as they go about searching for housing and decent jobs and struggling to care for their children while surviving on welfare or working at low-wage service jobs and sometimes facing physical or mental health problems. But until now little attention has been paid to an important force in these women’s lives: religion.
Based on in-depth interviews with women and pastors, Susan Crawford Sullivan presents poor mothers’ often overlooked views. Recruited from a variety of social service programs, most of the women do not attend religious services, due to logistical challenges or because they feel stigmatized and unwanted at church. Yet, she discovers, religious faith often plays a strong role in their lives as they contend with and try to make sense of the challenges they face. Supportive religious congregations prove important for women who are involved, she finds, but understanding everyday religion entails exploring beyond formal religious organizations.
Offering a sophisticated analysis of how faith both motivates and at times constrains poor mothers’ actions, Living Faith reveals the ways it serves as a lens through which many view and interpret their worlds.
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.
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.
Single parent families in the United States have almost tripled in the past few decades. A huge majority of these families are female headed. In American culture it is not so important that we all be equal so much as it is that we all have equal opportunities. Yet sometimes we turn a blind eye to those who need us most. In fact, when it comes to single parent families, it is as if the barriers are too great, the issues too complex. We wind up reducing the debate to its lowest common denominator. Ironically, it is the families who are most affected that get tangled in the political barbed wire and hidden behind numbing statistics. Moreover, community responses, those small grassroots organizations who care deeply and give whole-heartedly are seldom celebrated, seldom recognized for their empowering efforts. Moving Up and Out focuses on just such a program, the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, which has since 1984 provided scholarships for single parents interested in obtaining their post-secondary education. In this story of a highly successful nonprofit, Lori Holyfield (herself a recipient of a scholarship) draws upon the voices of single parents to consider the barriers and struggles faced as they attempt to obtain secondary education and change the lives of both themselves and their children. The help this program has brought to Arkansas residents is needed throughout the country.
In 1970, Margaret Grundstein abandoned her graduate degree at Yale and followed her husband, an Indonesian prince and community activist, to a commune in the backwoods of Oregon. Together with ten friends and an ever-changing mix of strangers, they began to build their vision of utopia.
Naked in the Woods chronicles Grundstein’s shift from reluctant hippie to committed utopian—sacrificing phones, electricity, and running water to live on 160 acres of remote forest with nothing but a drafty cabin and each other. Grundstein, (whose husband left, seduced by “freer love”) faced tough choices. Could she make it as a single woman in man’s country? Did she still want to? How committed was she to her new life? Although she reveled in the shared transcendence of communal life deep in the natural world, disillusionment slowly eroded the dream. Brotherhood frayed when food became scarce. Rifts formed over land ownership. Dogma and reality clashed.
Many people, baby boomers and millennials alike, have romantic notions about the 1960s and 70s. Grundstein’s vivid account offers an unflinching, authentic portrait of this iconic and often misreported time in American history. Accompanied by a collection of distinctive photographs she took at the time, Naked in the Woods draws readers into a period of convulsive social change and raises timeless questions: how far must we venture to find the meaning we seek, and is it ever far out enough to escape our ingrained human nature?
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.
Social scientists, politicians, and economists have recently been taken with the idea that the advanced welfare states of Europe face a “New Social Question.” The core idea is that the transition from an industrial to a postindustrial environment has brought with it a whole new set of social risks, constraints, and trade-offs, which necessitate radical recalibration of social security systems. A New Social Question? analyzes that question in depth, with particular attention to the problem of income protection and the difficulties facing Bismarckian welfare states. It will be necessary reading for anyone interested in understanding the future of European social policy.
In 2005 Waverly Duck was called to a town he calls Bristol Hill to serve as an expert witness in the sentencing of drug dealer Jonathan Wilson. Convicted as an accessory to the murder of a federal witness and that of a fellow drug dealer, Jonathan faced the death penalty, and Duck was there to provide evidence that the environment in which Jonathan had grown up mitigated the seriousness of his alleged crimes. Duck’s exploration led him to Jonathan’s church, his elementary, middle, and high schools, the juvenile facility where he had previously been incarcerated, his family and friends, other drug dealers, and residents who knew him or knew of him. After extensive ethnographic observations, Duck found himself seriously troubled and uncertain: Are Jonathan and others like him a danger to society? Or is it the converse—is society a danger to them?
Duck’s short stay in Bristol Hill quickly transformed into a long-term study—one that forms the core of No Way Out. This landmark book challenges the common misconception of urban ghettoes as chaotic places where drug dealing, street crime, and random violence make daily life dangerous for their residents. Through close observations of daily life in these neighborhoods, Duck shows how the prevailing social order ensures that residents can go about their lives in relative safety, despite the risks that are embedded in living amid the drug trade. In a neighborhood plagued by failing schools, chronic unemployment, punitive law enforcement, and high rates of incarceration, residents are knit together by long-term ties of kinship and friendship, and they base their actions on a profound sense of community fairness and accountability. Duck presents powerful case studies of individuals whose difficulties flow not from their values, or a lack thereof, but rather from the multiple obstacles they encounter on a daily basis.
No Way Out explores how ordinary people make sense of their lives within severe constraints and how they choose among unrewarding prospects, rather than freely acting upon their own values. What emerges is an important and revelatory new perspective on the culture of the urban poor.
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.
In Opportunity Lost, Marcus D. Pohlmann examines the troubling issue of why Memphis city school students are underperforming at alarming rates. His provocative interdisciplinary analysis, combining both history and social science, examines the events before and after desegregation, compares a city school to an affluent suburban school to pinpoint imbalances, and offers critical assessments of various educational reforms.
Employing a rich trove of data to demonstrate the realities of racial and economic inequality, Pohlmann underscores the difficulties that plague the urban schools and their students-problems that persist despite the fact that the city schools often have more resource advantages than the county schools: better student-to-teacher ratios, more teachers with advanced degrees, and even greater spending on each student. Pohlmann demonstrates that post-industrial economic shifts and continuing racial exclusion have resulted in a predominance of low-income students at these schools. This economic disadvantage has had a lasting impact on performance among students at all grade levels and has not been reversed simply by increasing resources.
In addition to his analysis of the problems, Pohlmann lays out educational reforms that run the gamut from early intervention and parental involvement to increasing class size and teacher compensation, improving time utilization, and more. Pohlmann's illuminating and original study has wide application for a problem that bedevils inner-city children everywhere and prevents the promise of equality from reaching all of our nation's citizens.
Marcus D. Pohlmann is professor of political science at Rhodes College. He is the author of Governing the Postindustrial City; coauthor, with Michael P. Kirby, of Racial Politics at the Crossroads: Memphis Elects W. W. Herenton; and editor of the six-volume African American Political Thought.
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.
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.
Americans think of suburbs as prosperous areas that are relatively free from poverty and unemployment. Yet, today more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities themselves. In Places in Need, social policy expert Scott W. Allard tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers. Rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Allard notes that because the suburban social safety net is less-developed than the urban safety net, a better understanding of suburban communities is critical for understanding and alleviating poverty in metropolitan areas.
Using census data, administrative data from safety net programs, and interviews with nonprofit leaders in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Allard shows that poor suburban households resemble their urban counterparts in terms of labor force participation, family structure, and educational attainment. In the last few decades, suburbs have seen increases in single-parent households, decreases in the number of college graduates, and higher unemployment rates. As a result, suburban demand for safety net assistance has increased. Concerning is evidence suburban social service providers—which serve clients spread out over large geographical areas, and often lack the political and philanthropic support that urban nonprofit organizations can command—do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand.
To strengthen local safety nets, Allard argues for expanding funding and eligibility to federal programs such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which have proven effective in urban and suburban communities alike. He also proposes to increase the capabilities of community-based service providers through a mix of new funding and capacity-building efforts.
Places in Need demonstrates why researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders should focus more on the shared fate of poor urban and suburban communities. This account of suburban vulnerability amidst persistent urban poverty provides a valuable foundation for developing more effective antipoverty strategies.
The end of apartheid in South Africa broke down political barriers, extending to all races the formal rights of citizenship, including the right to participate in free elections and parliamentary democracy. But South Africa remains one of the most economically polarized nations in the world. In The Politics of Necessity Elke Zuern forcefully argues that working toward greater socio-economic equality—access to food, housing, land, jobs—is crucial to achieving a successful and sustainable democracy.
Drawing on interviews with local residents and activists in South Africa’s impoverished townships during more than a decade of dramatic political change, Zuern tracks the development of community organizing and reveals the shifting challenges faced by poor citizens. Under apartheid, township residents began organizing to press the government to address the basic material necessities of the poor and expanded their demands to include full civil and political rights. While the movement succeeded in gaining formal political rights, democratization led to a new government that instituted neo-liberal economic reforms and sought to minimize protest. In discouraging dissent and failing to reduce economic inequality, South Africa’s new democracy has continued to disempower the poor.
By comparing movements in South Africa to those in other African and Latin American states, this book identifies profound challenges to democratization. Zuern asserts the fundamental indivisibility of all human rights, showing how protest movements that call attention to socio-economic demands, though often labeled a threat to democracy, offer significant opportunities for modern democracies to evolve into systems of rule that empower all citizens.
In Poor Kids in a Rich Country, Lee Rainwater and Timothy Smeeding ask what it means to be poor in a prosperous nation - especially for any country's most vulnerable citizens, its children. In comparing the situation of American children in low-income families with their counterparts in fourteen other countries—including Western Europe, Australia, and Canada—they provide a powerful perspective on the dynamics of child poverty in the United States.
Based on the rich data available from the transnational Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), Poor Kids in a Rich Country puts child poverty in the United States in an international context. Rainwater and Smeeding find that while the child poverty rate in most countries has been relatively stable over the past 30 years, child poverty has increased markedly in the United States and Britain—two of the world's wealthiest countries. The book delves into the underlying reasons for this difference, examining the mix of earnings and government transfers, such as child allowances, sickness and maternity benefits, unemployment insurance, and other social assistance programs that go into the income packages available to both single- and dual-parent families in each country. Rainwater and Smeeding call for policies to make it easier for working parents to earn a decent living while raising their children—policies such as parental leave, childcare support, increased income supports for working poor families, and a more socially oriented education policy. They make a convincing argument that our definition of poverty should not be based solely on the official poverty line—that is, the minimum income needed to provide a certain level of consumption—but on the social and economic resources necessary for full participation in society.
Combining a wealth of empirical data on international poverty levels with a thoughtful new analysis of how best to use that data, Poor Kids in a Rich Country will provide an essential tool for researchers and policymakers who make decisions about child and family policy.
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.
Whereas previous studies of poverty and early modern theatre have concentrated on England and the criminal rogue, Poverty and Charity in Early Modern Theatre and Performance takes a transnational approach, which reveals a greater range of attitudes and charitable practices regarding the poor than state poor laws and rogue books suggest. Close study of German and Latin beggar catalogues, popular songs performed in Italian piazzas, the Paduan actor-playwright Ruzante, the commedia dell’arte in both Italy and France, and Shakespeare demonstrate how early modern theatre and performance could reveal the gap between official policy and actual practices regarding the poor.
The actor-based theatre and performance traditions examined in this study, which persistently explore felt connections between the itinerant actor and the vagabond beggar, evoke the poor through complex and variegated forms of imagination, thought, and feeling. Early modern theatre does not simply reflect the social ills of hunger, poverty, and degradation, but works them through the forms of poverty, involving displacement, condensation, exaggeration, projection, fictionalization, and marginalization. As the critical mass of medieval charity was put into question, the beggar-almsgiver encounter became more like a performance. But it was not a performance whose script was prewritten as the inevitable exposure of the dissembling beggar. Just as people’s attitudes toward the poor could rapidly change from skepticism to sympathy during famines and times of acute need, fictions of performance such as Edgar’s dazzling impersonation of a mad beggar in Shakespeare’s King Lear could prompt responses of sympathy and even radical calls for economic redistribution.
Many agree that neoliberal economic policies have led to growing class inequality and increasing levels of poverty. Investigating the challenges that the growing financial and class disparity poses for the engaged social work academic and practitioner, the contributors look at the current state of poverty and inequality in a number of countries and examine social work’s response to it. They argue that—especially for a profession committed to values based on equality, social justice, and the meeting of human needs—poverty imposes a special requirement on social workers and academics to speak out when policies don’t work and the plight of the impoverished is exacerbated.
"[An] alarming report, a rigorous study packed with charts, tables, 1990 census data and [Jargowsky's] own extensive field work.... His careful analysis of enterprise zones, job-creation strategies, local economic development schemes and housing and tax policies rounds out an essential handbook for policy makers, a major contribution to public debate over ways to reverse indigence." —Publishers Weekly
"A data-rich description and a conceptually innovative explanation of the spread of neighborhood poverty in the United States between 1970 and 1990. Urban scholars and policymakers alike should find Jargowsky's compelling arguments thought-provoking. "—Library Journal"A powerful book that allows us to really understand how ghettos have been changing over time and the forces behind these changes. It should be required reading of anyone who cares about urban poverty." —David Ellwood, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard UniversityPoverty and Place documents the geographic spread of the nation's ghettos and shows how economic shifts have had a particularly devastating impact on certain regions, particularly in the rust-belt states of the Midwest. Author Paul Jargowsky's thoughtful analysis of the causes of ghetto formation clarifies the importance of widespread urban trends, particularly those changes in the labor and housing markets that have fostered income inequality and segregated the rich from the poor. Jargowsky also examines the sources of employment that do exist for ghetto dwellers, and describes how education and family structure further limit their prospects. Poverty and Place shows how the spread of high poverty neighborhoods has particularly trapped members of poor minorities, who account for nearly four out of five ghetto residents. Poverty and Place sets forth the facts necessary to inform the public understanding of the growth of concentrated poverty, and confronts essential questions about how the spiral of urban decay in our nation's cities can be reversed.
The Indian subdistrict of Shahabad, located in the dwindling forests of the southeastern tip of Rajasthan, is an area of extreme poverty. Beset by droughts and food shortages in recent years, it is the home of the Sahariyas, former bonded laborers, officially classified as Rajasthan’s only “primitive tribe.” From afar, we might consider this the bleakest of the bleak, but in Poverty and the Quest for Life, Bhrigupati Singh asks us to reconsider just what quality of life means. He shows how the Sahariyas conceive of aspiration, advancement, and vitality in both material and spiritual terms, and how such bridging can engender new possibilities of life.
Singh organizes his study around two themes: power and ethics, through which he explores a complex terrain of material and spiritual forces. Authority remains contested, whether in divine or human forms; the state is both despised and desired; high and low castes negotiate new ways of living together, in conflict but also cooperation; new gods move across rival social groups; animals and plants leave their tracks on human subjectivity and religiosity; and the potential for vitality persists even as natural resources steadily disappear. Studying this milieu, Singh offers new ways of thinking beyond the religion-secularism and nature-culture dichotomies, juxtaposing questions about quality of life with political theologies of sovereignty, neighborliness, and ethics, in the process painting a rich portrait of perseverance and fragility in contemporary rural India.
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.
Poverty violates fundamental human values through its impact on individuals and on human environments, and it goes against the core values of democratic societies. Drawing on numerous scientific studies as well as his own experience witnessing the systematic poverty in his home country of South Africa, H. P. P. [Hennie] Lötter presents a holistic profile of poverty and its effects on human lives all the while accounting for the complexity of each individual case. He argues that shared ethical values must guide the planning and distribution of aid and that our society must reevaluate our notions of justice and reimagine the role of the state in order to enable collective human responsibility for poverty’s successful eradication.
After the Second World War, the idea that local community action was indispensable for the alleviation of poverty was broadly embraced by US policymakers, social scientists, international development specialists, and grassroots activists. Governmental efforts to mobilize community action in the name of democracy served as a volatile condition of possibility for poor people and dispossessed groups negotiating the tension between calls for self-help and demands for self-determination in the era of the Cold War and global decolonization. In Poverty in Common, Alyosha Goldstein suggests new ways to think about the relationship among liberalism, government, and inequality in the United States. He does so by analyzing historical dynamics including Progressive-era reform as a precursor to community development during the Cold War, the ways that the language of "underdevelopment" articulated ideas about poverty and foreignness, the use of poverty as a crucible of interest group politics, and radical groups' critical reframing of community action in anticolonial terms. During the mid-twentieth century, approaches to poverty in the United States were linked to the racialized and gendered negotiation of boundaries—between the foreign and the domestic, empire and nation, violence and order, and dependency and autonomy.
"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.
Poverty Of Amer Pol 2Nd Ed
H. Mark Roelofs Temple University Press, 1998 Library of Congress JK271.R537 1998 | Dewey Decimal 320.973
Maintaining that the American political system is not working well enough to inspire confidence that it can meet the challenges o four time, H. Mark Roelofs attributes that failure, not to its practitioners, but to its very design. He sees that system as split between its legitimizing self-image, social democracy, and its operational element, liberal democracy.
Based on his novel understanding of the American political system, Roelofs presents a devastating and closely reasoned critique that traces our nation's political ills to fundamental flaws in the very design of its founding principles, the character of its major institutions, and the basic pattern of its processes. Dissecting our political and societal problems, he explains the limitations and basic contributions arising from the social democratic/liberal democratic dichotomy that result in our current political poverty.
While Roelofs's analysis remains the same as in the earlier edition, in this revised edition he has sharpened and extended the argument and expanded and updated his illustrative materials. Improved bibliographical citations and new diagrams make the book an even more useful teaching tool.
Political participation rates have declined steadily in Mexico since the 1990s. The decline has been most severe among the poor, producing a stratified pattern that more and more mirrors Mexico’s severe socioeconomic inequalities. Poverty of Democracy examines the political marginalization of Mexico’s poor despite their key role in the struggle for democracy.
Claudio A. Holzner uses case study evidence drawn from eight years of fieldwork in Oaxaca, and from national surveys to show how the institutionalization of a free-market democracy created a political system that discourages the political participation of Mexico’s poor by limiting their access to politicians at the local and national level. Though clean elections bolster political activity, Holzner shows that at the local level, and particularly in Mexico’s poorest regions, deeply rooted enclaves of authoritarianism and clientelism still constrict people’s political opportunities.
To explain this phenomenon, Holzner develops an institutional theory in which party systems, state-society linkages, and public policies are the key determinants of citizen political activity. These institutions shape patterns of political participation by conferring and distributing resources, motivating or discouraging an interest in politics, and by affecting the incentives citizens from different income groups have for targeting the state with political activity.
Holzner’s study sheds light on a disturbing trend in Latin America (and globally), in which neoliberal systems exacerbate political and economic disparities and create institutions that translate economic inequalities into political ones.
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.
The primal scene of all nineteenth-century western thought might involve an observer gazing at someone poor, most commonly on the streets of a great metropolis, and wondering what the spectacle meant in human, moral, political, and metaphysical terms. For Russia, most of whose people hovered near the poverty line throughout history, the scene is one of special significance, presenting a plethora of questions and possibilities for writers who wished to depict the spiritual and material reality of Russian life. How these writers responded, and what their portrayal of poverty reveals and articulates about core values of Russian culture, is the subject of this book, which offers a compelling look into the peculiar convergence in nineteenth-century Russian literature of ideas about the poor and about the processes of art.
The disparity between rich and poor countries is the most serious, intractable problem facing the world today. The chronic poverty of many nations affects more than the citizens and economies of those nations; it threatens global stability as the pressures of immigration become unsustainable and rogue nations seek power and influence through extreme political and terrorist acts. To address this tenacious poverty, a vast array of international institutions has pumped billions of dollars into these nations in recent decades, yet despite this infusion of capital and attention, roughly five billion of the world's six billion people continue to live in poor countries. What isn't working? And how can we fix it?
The Power of Productivity provides powerful and controversial answers to these questions. William W. Lewis, the director emeritus of the McKinsey Global Institute, here draws on extensive microeconomic studies of thirteen nations over twelve years—conducted by the Institute itself—to counter virtually all prevailing wisdom about how best to ameliorate economic disparity. Lewis's research, which included studying everything from state-of-the-art auto makers to black-market street vendors and mom-and-pop stores, conclusively demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, providing more capital to poor nations is not the best way to help them. Nor is improving levels of education, exchange-rate flexibility, or government solvency enough. Rather, the key to improving economic conditions in poor countries, argues Lewis, is increasing productivity through intense, fair competition and protecting consumer rights.
As The Power of Productivity explains, this sweeping solution affects the economies of poor nations at all levels—from the viability of major industries to how the average consumer thinks about his or her purchases. Policies must be enacted in developing nations that reflect a consumer rather than a producer mindset and an attendant sense of consumer rights. Only one force, Lewis claims, can stand up to producer special privileges—consumer interests.
The Institute's unprecedented research method and Lewis's years of experience with economic policy combine to make The Power of Productivity the most authoritative and compelling view of the global economy today, one that will inform political and economic debate throughout the world for years to come.
In January 1964, in his first State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson announced a declaration of “unconditional war” on poverty. By the end of the year the Economic Opportunity Act became law.
The War on Poverty illustrates the interweaving of rhetorical and historical forces in shaping public policy. Zarefsky suggest that an important problem in the War on Poverty lay in its discourse. He assumes that language plays a central role in the formulation of social policy by shaping the context within which people view the social world. By terming the anti-poverty effort a war, President Johnson imparted significant symbolism to the effort: it called for total victory and gave confidence that the “war” was winnable. It influenced the definition of the enemy as an intergenerational cycle of poverty, rather than the shortcomings of the individual; and it led to the choice of community action, manpower programs, and prudent management as weapons and tactics. Each of these implications involves a choice of language and symbols, a decision about how to characterize and discuss the world. Zarefsky contends that each of these rhetorical choices was helpful to the Johnson administration in obtaining passage of the Economic Opportunity Ac of 1964, but that each choice invited redefinition or reinterpretation of a symbol in a way that threatened the program.
Over the last forty years, rising national income has helped reduce poverty rates, but this has been accompanied by an increase in economic inequality. While these trends are largely attributed to technological change and demographic shifts, such as changing birth rates, labor force patterns, and immigration, public policies have also exerted a profound affect on the welfare of Americans. In Public Policy and the Income Distribution, editors Alan Auerbach, David Card, and John Quigley assemble a distinguished roster of policy analysts to confront the key questions about the role of government policy in altering the level and distribution of economic well being.
Public Policy and the Income Distribution tackles many of the most difficult and intriguing questions about how government intervention—or lack thereof—has affected the incomes of everyday Americans. Rebecca Blank analyzes welfare reform, and presents systematic research on income, poverty rates, and welfare and labor force participation of single mothers. She finds that single mothers worked more and were less dependent on public assistance following welfare reform, and that low-skilled single mothers had no greater difficulty finding work than others. Timothy Smeeding compares poverty reduction programs in the United States with policies in other developed countries. Poverty and inequality are higher in the United States than in other advanced economies, but Smeeding argues that this is largely a result of policy choices. Poverty rates based on market incomes alone are actually lower in the United States than elsewhere, but government interventions in the United States were less than half as effective at reducing poverty as were programs in the other countries. The most dramatic poverty reduction story of twentieth century America was seen among the elderly, who went from being the age group most likely to live in poverty in the 1960s to the group least likely to be poor at the end of the century. Gary Englehardt and Jonathan Gruber examine the role of policy in alleviating old-age poverty by estimating the impact of Social Security benefits on the income of the elderly poor. They find that the growth in Social Security almost completely explains the large decline in elderly poverty in the United States
The twentieth century was remarkable in the extent to which advances in public policy helped improve the economic well being of Americans. Synthesizing existing knowledge on the effectiveness of public policy and contributing valuable new research, Public Policy and the Income Distribution examines public policy's successes, and points out the areas in which progress remains to be made.
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.
Reclaiming Class offers essays written by women who changed their lives through the pathway of higher education. Collected, they offer a powerful testimony of the importance of higher learning, as well as a critique of the programs designed to alleviate poverty and educational disparity. The contributors explore the ideologies of welfare and American meritocracy that promise hope and autonomy on the one hand, while also perpetuating economic obstacles and indebtedness on the other. Divided into the three sections, Reclaiming Class assesses the psychological, familial, and economic intersections of poverty and the educational process. In the first section, women who left poverty through higher education recall their negotiating the paths of college life to show how their experiences reveal the hidden paradoxes of education. Section two presents first person narratives of students whose lives are shaped by their roles as poor mothers, guardian siblings, and daughters, as well as the ways that race interacts with their poverty. Chapters exploring financial aid and welfare policy, battery and abuse, and the social constructions of the poor woman finish the book. Offering a comprehensive picture of how poor women access all levels of private and public institutions to achieve against great odds, Reclaiming Class shows the workings of higher learning from the vantage point of those most subject to the vicissitudes of policy and reform agendas.
Red Tape presents a major new theory of the state developed by the renowned anthropologist Akhil Gupta. Seeking to understand the chronic and widespread poverty in India, the world's fourth largest economy, Gupta conceives of the relation between the state in India and the poor as one of structural violence. Every year this violence kills between two and three million people, especially women and girls, and lower-caste and indigenous peoples. Yet India's poor are not disenfranchised; they actively participate in the democratic project. Nor is the state indifferent to the plight of the poor; it sponsors many poverty amelioration programs.
Gupta conducted ethnographic research among officials charged with coordinating development programs in rural Uttar Pradesh. Drawing on that research, he offers insightful analyses of corruption; the significance of writing and written records; and governmentality, or the expansion of bureaucracies. Those analyses underlie his argument that care is arbitrary in its consequences, and that arbitrariness is systematically produced by the very mechanisms that are meant to ameliorate social suffering. What must be explained is not only why government programs aimed at providing nutrition, employment, housing, healthcare, and education to poor people do not succeed in their objectives, but also why, when they do succeed, they do so unevenly and erratically.
A Ghanaian scholar of religion argues that poverty is a particularly complex subject in traditional African cultures, where holistic worldviews unite life’s material and spiritual dimensions. A South African ethicist examines informal economies in Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, and South Africa, looking at their ideological roots, social organization, and vulnerability to global capital. African American theologians offer ethnographic accounts of empowering religious rituals performed in churches in the United States, Jamaica, and South Africa. This important collection brings together these and other Pan-African perspectives on religion and poverty in Africa and the African diaspora.
Contributors from Africa and North America explore poverty’s roots and effects, the ways that experiences and understandings of deprivation are shaped by religion, and the capacity and limitations of religion as a means of alleviating poverty. As part of a collaborative project, the contributors visited Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, as well as Jamaica and the United States. In each location, they met with clergy, scholars, government representatives, and NGO workers, and they examined how religious groups and community organizations address poverty. Their essays complement one another. Some focus on poverty, some on religion, others on their intersection, and still others on social change. A Jamaican scholar of gender studies decries the feminization of poverty, while a Nigerian ethicist and lawyer argues that the protection of human rights must factor into efforts to overcome poverty. A church historian from Togo examines the idea of poverty as a moral virtue and its repercussions in Africa, and a Tanzanian theologian and priest analyzes ujamaa, an African philosophy of community and social change. Taken together, the volume’s essays create a discourse of mutual understanding across linguistic, religious, ethnic, and national boundaries.
Contributors. Elizabeth Amoah, Kossi A. Ayedze, Barbara Bailey, Katie G. Cannon, Noel Erskine, Dwight N. Hopkins, Simeon O. Ilesanmi, Laurenti Magesa, Madipoane Masenya, Takatso A. Mofokeng, Esther M. Mombo, Nyambura J. Njoroge, Jacob Olupona, Peter J. Paris, Anthony B. Pinn, Linda E. Thomas, Lewin L. Williams
A trillion-dollar industry, the US non-profit sector is one of the world's largest economies. From art museums and university hospitals to think tanks and church charities, over 1.5 million organizations of staggering diversity share the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation, if little else. Many social justice organizations have joined this world, often blunting political goals to satisfy government and foundation mandates. But even as funding shrinks, many activists often find it difficult to imagine movement-building outside the non-profit model. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded gathers essays by radical activists, educators, and non-profit staff from around the globe who critically rethink the long-term consequences of what they call the "non-profit industrial complex." Drawing on their own experiences, the contributors track the history of non-profits and provide strategies to transform and work outside them. Urgent and visionary, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded presents a biting critique of the quietly devastating role the non-profit industrial complex plays in managing dissent.
Contributors. Christine E. Ahn, Robert L. Allen, Alisa Bierria, Nicole Burrowes, Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA), William Cordery, Morgan Cousins, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Stephanie Guilloud, Adjoa Florência Jones de Almeida, Tiffany Lethabo King, Paul Kivel, Soniya Munshi, Ewuare Osayande, Amara H. Pérez, Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide, Dylan Rodríguez, Paula X. Rojas, Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo, Sisters in Action for Power, Andrea Smith, Eric Tang, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Ije Ude, Craig Willse
More than one in five American children live below the poverty line, a proportion that exceeds that of any other advanced nation. Although large numbers of Western European children live with single or unemployed parents, or belong to disadvantaged minorities, they are better shielded from severe deprivation by carefully designed public assistance programs. Saving Our Children from Poverty describes one of the most successful European systems of assistance for families, that of France, and through comparison with American programs offers a valuable guide to improving our own safety net for children and reforming our dysfunctional welfare system.
Saving Our Children from Poverty details the array of benefits available to both high- and low-income families in France. Government-run nursery schools provide free, high-quality care for almost all children between the ages of three and six. Children also receive guaranteed medical care under a national health insurance plan. The French system offers married couples most of the same benefits as single parents, and creates strong incentives to seek and hold jobs rather than remain on welfare. A French single mother who chooses to work still receives substantial income supplements, housing assistance, subsidized health care, and access to public child care facilities. In stark contrast, her American counterpart loses most of her cash benefits if she takes a job and receives no government assistance with child care. Because American policies focus disproportionately on aiding the poorest non-working families, parents forced to rely on low-wage jobs are frequently left without the resources to provide their children with an adequate standard of living.
As the public debate on welfare reform continues to rage, ever more American children fall into poverty. Why does the nation remain so unresponsive to their plight? Saving Our Children from Poverty probes the American aversion to national assistance programs, citing the negative attitudes that have seeped into the current political discourse. A lack of faith in the federal government's administrative abilities has bolstered a trend toward decentralization of programs, as well as a growing resistance to taxation. Racial antipathies and a belief that financial support encourages irresponsibility further undermine the development of programs for those in need.
Saving Our Children from Poverty illustrates what a nation no wealthier than ours can realistically accomplish and afford, and concludes with a viable blueprint for successfully applying aspects of France's system to the United States.
“Economic and political forces no longer combat poverty—they generate poverty!" exclaim William Goldsmith and Edward Blakely in their report on the plight of American's urban poor. In this revised and updated edition of their 1992 book Separate Societies,the authors present a compelling examination of the damaging divisions that isolate poor city minority residents from the middle-class suburban majority. They pay special attention to how the needs of the permanently poor have been unmet through the alternating years of promises and neglect, and propose a progressive turn away from 30 years of conservative policies.
Separate Societies vividly documents how the urban working class has been pushed out of industrial jobs through global economic restructuring, and how the Wall Street meltdown has aggravated underemployment, depleted public services, and sharpened racial and class inequalities.
The authors insist that the current U.S. approach puts Americans out of work and lowers the standard of living for all. As such, Goldsmith and Blakely urge the Obama administration to create better urban policy and foster better metropolitan management to effectively and efficiently promote equality.
"A brilliant and beautiful book, the mature work of a lifetime, must reading for students of the globalization debate."
"Slaves to Fashion is a remarkable achievement, several books in one: a gripping history of sweatshops, explaining their decline, fall, and return; a study of how the media portray them; an analysis of the fortunes of the current anti-sweatshop movement; an anatomy of the global traffic in apparel, in particular the South-South competition that sends wages and working conditions plummeting toward the bottom; and not least, a passionate declaration of faith that humanity can find a way to get its work done without sweatshops. This is engaged sociology at its most stimulating."
". . . unflinchingly portrays the reemergence of the sweatshop in our dog-eat-dog economy."
---Los Angeles Times
Just as Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed uncovered the plight of the working poor in America, Robert J. S. Ross's Slaves to Fashion exposes the dark side of the apparel industry and its exploited workers at home and abroad. It's both a lesson in American business history and a warning about one of the most important issues facing the global capital economy-the reappearance of the sweatshop.
Vividly detailing the decline and tragic rebirth of sweatshop conditions in the American apparel industry of the twentieth century, Ross explains the new sweatshops as a product of unregulated global capitalism and associated deregulation, union erosion, and exploitation of undocumented workers. Using historical material and economic and social data, the author shows that after a brief thirty-five years of fair practices, the U.S. apparel business has once again sunk to shameful abuse and exploitation.
Refreshingly jargon-free but documented in depth, Slaves to Fashion is the only work to estimate the size of the sweatshop problem and to systematically show its impact on apparel workers' wages. It is also unique in its analysis of the budgets and personnel used in enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Anyone who is concerned about this urgent social and economic topic and wants to go beyond the headlines should read this important and timely contribution to the rising debate on low-wage factory labor.
Robert J.S. Ross is Professor of Sociology, Clark University. He is an expert in the area of sweatshops and globalization. He is an activist academic who travels and lectures extensively and has published numerous related articles.
William Langland's Piers Plowman provides a highly charged picture of England near the end of the fourteenth century, a time of political, religious, and moral crises. The period in which Langland wrote was volatile and full of colorful and contentious people: Edward III, Richard II, Chaucer, Wyclif--and Langland. In "Songes of Rechelesnesse," Lawrence M. Clopper presents the voice of this powerful disputant who lived in a period marked by dissent and discontent.
In the late Middle Ages, Franciscan friars had a significant impact on all levels of society.
But because of the apparent discrepancy between the poverty the Franciscans claimed and the life they lived, a large body of antifraternal literature arose, including, supposedly, Piers Plowman. Since the sixteenth century, when it was first put into print, Piers Plowman has been understood to be a proto-Protestant work that revealed the failures of the medieval clergy, but especially of the mendicant orders. In "Songes of Rechelesnesse," Clopper establishes the presence of a Franciscan reformist position in Piers Plowman.
Clopper maintains that the poem articulates a reformist agenda, presenting the internal Franciscan debate, in a bid to return the order to its initial foundation. Clopper believes that Langland is deeply imbued with a Franciscan mentality that reaches deep into the structure of the poem. It manifests itself at the level of the alliterative long line in his exemplarist poetics and is the source of his imagery and politics. In short Clopper identifies Franciscanism as holding the poem together.
"Songes of Rechelesnesse" is a historical, political, and religious history of late fourteenth-century England. It will be of interest to literary scholars, historians of the late Middle Ages, and scholars in religious studies.
Lawrence M. Clopper is Director, Medieval Studies Institute, and Professor of English, Indiana University.
In parts of West Africa, some babies and toddlers are considered spirit children—nonhumans sent from the forest to cause misfortune and destroy the family. These are usually deformed or ailing infants, the very young whose births coincide with tragic events, or children who display unusual abilities. In some of these cases, families seek a solution in infanticide. Many others do not.
Refusing to generalize or oversimplify, Aaron R. Denham offers an ethnographic study of the spirit child phenomenon in Northern Ghana that considers medical, economic, religious, and political realities. He examines both the motivations of the families and the structural factors that lead to infanticide, framing these within the context of global public health. At the same time, he turns the lens on Western societies and the misunderstandings that prevail in discourse about this controversial practice. Engaging the complexity of the context, local meanings, and moral worlds of those confronting a spirit child, Denham offers visceral accounts of families' life and death decisions.
Sweden's Development From Poverty to Affluence, 1750–1970 was first published in 1975. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Contemporary Sweden commands a degree of interest and attention from foreigners that is all out of proportion to its small size and its present position among the world powers. The country, at least since the publication of Marquis Childs's book Sweden: The Middle Way in 1936, has become synonymous with the idea of a welfare state or cradle-to-grave social security. But accurate, unbiased information about the development of modern Sweden has been scanty, and this book is designed to fill the gap.
Thirteen Swedish scholars—historians, political scientists, sociologists, and an economist—look at particular aspects of Swedish history over the last two centuries. Steven Koblik, the editor, provides an extensive general introduction as well as brief introductions as background for each of the essays.
In this comprehensive and provocative study of maternal reactions to child death in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, anthropologist Jónína Einarsdóttir challenges the assumption that mothers in high-poverty societies will neglect their children and fail to mourn their deaths as a survival strategy. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted from 1993 to 1998 among the matrilineal Papel, who reside in the Biombo region, this work includes theoretical discussion of reproductive practices, conceptions of children, childcare customs, interpretations of diseases and death, and infanticide. Einarsdóttir also brings compelling narratives of life experiences and reflections of Papel women.
For too long the study of impoverished Puerto Ricans living in the fifty states has been undermined by the use of broad generalizations. Puerto Ricans have been statistically grouped with all Latinos, studied with models developed for understanding African-American life, and written about as if New York's Puerto Rican community was the only such community worthy of detailed study. This book changes all that. In this important new work, Susan Baker looks beyond the traditional models and rewrites the origins, current state, and reasons behind Puerto Rican poverty.The book tells the story of how Puerto Ricans have left the Rustbelt cities to return to the island or to seek job opportunities elsewhere. Those left behind are predominantly poor women with dependents who live in segregated neighborhoods with little chance of finding low-skilled jobs because of competition from non-citizen, non-politicized workers.In her alternative explanation, the author presents data from across the country and puts forth an explanation that is grounded in Puerto Rican history and sensitive not only to the interconnectedness of the island and mainland population, but also the increasing distress faced by Puerto Rican women and the sad truth that Puerto Rican citizenship in this country is a second class one.
Sheldon Danziger Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress HC79.P6U53 2001 | Dewey Decimal 362.5
In spite of an unprecedented period of growth and prosperity, the poverty rate in the United States remains high relative to the levels of the early 1970s and relative to those in many industrialized countries today. Understanding Poverty brings the problem of poverty in America to the fore, focusing on its nature and extent at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Images of poverty shape the debate surrounding it. In 1996, then President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform legislation repealing the principal federal program providing monetary assistance to poor families, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). With the president's signature this originally non-controversial program became the only title of the 1935 Social Security Act to be repealed. The legislation culminated a retrenchment era in welfare policy beginning in the early 1980s.
To understand completely the welfare policy debates of the last half of the 20th Century, the various images of poor people that were present must be considered. Visions of Poverty explores these images and the policy debates of the retrenchment era, recounting the ways in which images of the poor appeared in these debates, relaying shifts in images that took place over time, and revealing how images functioned in policy debates to advantage some positions and disadvantage others. Looking to the future, Visions of Poverty demonstrates that any future policy agenda must first come to terms with the vivid, disabling images of the poor that continue to circulate. In debating future reforms, participants-whose ranks should include potential recipients-ought to imagine poor people anew.
This ground breaking study in policymaking and cultural imagination will be of particular interest to scholars in rhetorical studies, political science, history, and public policy.
Hans Urs von Balthasar’s vast corpus of theological, philosophical, literary, and pastoral writings remains one of the most impressive achievements in 20th century thought. In light of liberation theology and now the papacy of Francis, however, a theological affirmation of the option for the poor remains dangerously weak in Balthasar’s corpus. Von Balthasar and the Option for the Poor offers a sympathetic reforming of Balthasar’s account of the drama of salvation – what he calls “theodramatics” – in response to this weakness.
As the world becomes more interconnected through travel and electronic communication, many believe that physical places will become less important. But as Mario Polèse argues in The Wealth and Poverty of Regions, geography will matter more than ever before in a world where distance is allegedly dead.
This provocative book surveys the globe, from London and Cape Town to New York and Beijing, contending that regions rise—or fall—due to their location, not only within nations but also on the world map. Polèse reveals how concentrations of industries and populations in specific locales often result in minor advantages that accumulate over time, resulting in reduced prices, improved transportation networks, increased diversity, and not least of all, “buzz”—the excitement and vitality that attracts ambitious people. The Wealth and Poverty of Regions maps out how a heady mix of size, infrastructure, proximity, and cost will determine which urban centers become the thriving metropolises of the future, and which become the deserted cities of the past. Engagingly written, the book provides insight to the past, present, and future of regions.
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.
It is often said that the federal government cannot or should not attempt to address America's problems of poverty and inequality—because its bureaucracy is wasteful or its programs ineffective. But is this true? In this book, Benjamin I. Page and James R. Simmons examine a number of federal and local programs, detailing what government action already does for its citizens and assessing how efficient it is at solving the problems it seeks to address. Their conclusion, surprisingly, is the polar opposite of the prevailing rhetoric—What Government Can Do is an insightful and compelling argument that it both can and should do more.
How did Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot come to be performed in such places as San Quentin Prison, Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, Sarajevo under military siege, New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, and Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street protests? The Work of Poverty: Samuel Beckett’s Vagabonds and the Theater of Crisis studies the appeal of Godot to audiences in settings of historical crisis and suffering. Lance Duerfahrd argues that these circumstances transform the performance and the reception of the play, thereby illuminating a cathartic and political dimension of Beckett’s work that goes unseen in traditional performance contexts.
The resonance of one of the most canonical plays of the twentieth century within landscapes of disaster fulfills the aesthetic of “ultimate penury” that Beckett hones in his work. Here the subtractive and reductive dynamic of the Nobel Prize–winning author’s craft comes into clearer view, echoing with the despondent condition beyond the stage. In developing an aesthetic of penury, The Work of Poverty brings together the dispossessed characters in Godot; the derelict narrators of Beckett’s Molloy,Malone Dies, and the Unnamable; and the formal experimentation in poverty witnessed in his Endgame and Worstward Ho. Beckett forged increasingly destitute forms of theater and prose on the periphery of writing. Duerfahrd illustrates how this work speaks to our age by emphasizing characters on the periphery of society.
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