Beside the Golden Door: Policy, Politics, and the Homeless / Edition 1

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Overview

James Wright's Address Unknown: The Homeless in America focused on the problem of homelessness during the mid-to-late 1980s, making an important contribution to the then-emerging public debate of a rapidly growing and increasingly visible social problem. Beside the Golden Door updates the story and our knowledge of homelessness through the middle 1990s, advancing the thesis that an emphasis on factors such as mental illness or substance abuse is descriptively accurate but fails as a causal account of the rise of homelessness as a social problem. The authors reject efforts to cast the issue in "either-or" terms, as social structure versus individual deficiencies, arguing that poverty and housing trends have created a situation where some people are destined to be homeless, but personal factors such as mental illness or substance abuse are critical in predicting who those people turn out to be. Beside the Golden Door details numerous dimensions of the homelessness issue: the rise in poverty; the decline of low-income housing; conceptual, measurement, and practical problems of counting the homeless and the Census Bureau's ill-fated 1990 effort to do so; the role of familial estrangement, mental illness, and substance abuse; and health status and behaviors. It concludes with discussions and comparisons of rural versus urban homelessness, street children in North and Latin America, and homelessness in post-industrial societies. The material in Beside the Golden Door will be accessible to undergraduate students and interested lay readers as well as specialists. "Both the content and style of this book make an excellent instructive read for students, practitioners, and scholars, alike."--Social Forces James D. Wright is Charles and Leo Favrot Professor of Human Relations, Department of Sociology, Tulane University and author of over thirteen books including Address Unknown and Crime and Violence in America. Beth A. Rubin is associate professor, Department of Sociology, Tulane University. She is the author of Shifts in the Social Contract: Understanding Change in American Society. Joel A. Devine is professor, Department of Sociology, Tulane University, and coauthor of The Greatest of Evils: Urban Poverty and the American Underclass.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Wright et al. have skillfully assembled a competent and readable introduction to the issue of homelessness in the US. Their firsthand involvement with various projects such as the New Orleans Homeless Substance Abusers Program, Health Care for the Homeless, and efforts during the 1990 census to count the homeless will also provide undergraduates with valuable examples of linkages between sociological theory and practice, and demonstrate how both are relevant to the creation of public policy… [I]t represents a solid background resource… General readers; upper-division undergraduates.”

M. A. Olshan, Choice

“[I]nformative and thought provoking… The book reads well and provides a good overview of the field.”

—Timothy P. Johnson, Journal of the American Planning Association

“In this well-written, jargon-free book, Wright, Rubin, and Devine argue for the complexity of homelessness… Both the content and style of this book make an excellent instructive read for students, practitioners, and scholars alike. Each will find the book eye opening and the issues it raises troubling.”

—James W. Trent, Social Forces

Booknews
Three Tulane University sociologists fly into the eye of the controversies raging over homelessness: theories, demographics (including "yuffies," young urban failures) health status, presence beyond American cities, and future trends. In contrast to those who argue that the personal disabilities of this population keep them on the streets, this volume is based on work by Wright and his colleagues since his 1989 Address Unknown: The Homeless in America locating the phenomenon's roots in rising poverty and declining low-income housing. The title refers to the Statue of Liberty's invitation to "... the homeless, tempest-tost... I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202306148
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/31/1998
  • Series: Social Institutions and Social Change Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel A. Devine is chair of the Department of Sociology at Tulane University.

James D. Wright is provost distinguished research professor in the department of sociology at the University of Central Florida. He also serves as director of the University of Central Florida Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences, and as editor-in-chief of the journal Social Science Research. He has published more than a dozen books, including Armed and Considered Dangerous and Under the Gun as well as many journal articles. His current research interests include violence, urban poverty and inequality, health and the homeless population, and the “divorce reform” movement.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 The Homeless: What Are the Issues? What Are the Controversies? 1
2 Counting the Homeless 31
3 Why the Homeless Can't Be Counted 53
4 Poverty, Housing, and Homelessness 65
5 Families and Family Estrangement 93
6 Mental Illness and Substance Abuse 105
7 Why Alcohol and Drug Treatment Is Not the Solution 127
8 Health and Health Status 147
9 Outside American Cities: Rural and European Homelessness 177
10 Street Children in North and Latin America 195
11 Homelessness in the Twenty-First Century 209
References 217
Index 233
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