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.
Some babies and toddlers in parts of West Africa are considered spirit children—nonhumans sent from the forest to cause misfortune and destroy the family. These are usually deformed or ailing infants, or children whose births coincide with tragic events or who display unusual abilities. Aaron R. Denham offers a nuanced ethnographic study of this phenomenon in Northern Ghana that examines both the motivations of the families and the structural factors that lead to infanticide. He also turns the lens on the prevailing misunderstandings about this controversial practice. Denham offers vivid accounts of families’ life-and-death decisions that engage the complexity of the context, local meanings, and moral worlds of those confronting a spirit child.
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.