More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (Issues of Our Time)

More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (Issues of Our Time)

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by William Julius Wilson
     
 

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A preeminent sociologist of race explains a groundbreaking new framework for understanding racial inequality, challenging both conservative and liberal dogma.

In this timely and provocative contribution to the American discourse on race, William Julius Wilson applies an exciting new analytic framework to three politically fraught social problems: the

Overview

A preeminent sociologist of race explains a groundbreaking new framework for understanding racial inequality, challenging both conservative and liberal dogma.

In this timely and provocative contribution to the American discourse on race, William Julius Wilson applies an exciting new analytic framework to three politically fraught social problems: the persistence of the inner-city ghetto, the plight of low-skilled black males, and the fragmentation of the African American family. Though the discussion of racial inequality is typically ideologically polarized. Wilson dares to consider both institutional and cultural factors as causes of the persistence of racial inequality. He reaches the controversial conclusion that while structural and cultural forces are inextricably linked, public policy can only change the racial status quo by reforming the institutions that reinforce it.

Editorial Reviews

Richard Thompson Ford
More Than Just Race is somewhat ponderous and academic in style; too often the book details an important and fascinating question only to end inconclusively, with a call for "further research." But this is more than made up for by its considerable substantive virtues: it is straightforward, accessible and sensible, free of the ideological cant and posturing that often mar even serious academic studies of racial issues.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Harvard sociologist Wilson (The Declining Significance of Race) makes a bold effort to reframe current debates on the relationship between race and poverty in the U.S. The author observes that discussions of race have hardened into two mutually exclusive and inflexible perspectives. One view regards black poverty as a consequence of social forces-e.g., segregation and the flight of middle-class black residents from urban centers. Alternately, black poverty has been portrayed as a product of individual and cultural inadequacy. Wilson argues for perspectives that acknowledge the inherent symbiosis of social and cultural forces. For example, cultural concerns about black violence in the 1970s gave rise to a more punitive response to street crime leading to greatly increased incarceration rates for black men. Employers' unwillingness to hire black ex-felons, coupled with the rise of service jobs that favor women, led to the decline of the traditional male provider role that had sustained long-term family commitments. Wilson combines a critical look at recent research on poverty and race with his own field research to construct a synthesis that sidesteps many of the pitfalls that often entrap race and poverty theorists. (Mar.)

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Kirkus Reviews
A refreshing, multilayered study of racial inequality in America..Wilson (Sociology/Harvard; There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America, 2006, etc.) adopts a controversial method, outlining not only the institutional factors that perpetuate inequity and poverty, but also the cultural factors, which have often been overlooked by academics "because of a fear that such analysis can be construed as ‘blaming the victim.' " Using this framework, Wilson dismantles the current ideology surrounding the understanding of three fractious topics: concentrated poverty, the economic plight of inner-city black males and the breakdown of the black family. "The Forces Shaping Concentrated Poverty," perhaps the most damning chapter, outlines the initiatives that served to institutionalize inequality in America, with particular emphasis on housing and transportation. Readers who prefer their percentages and policy critique cloaked in flowery language and anecdotal case studies would be well advised to look elsewhere; Wilson's strict syntax of statistics and acronyms readily evokes the bleakness of the landscape he describes. Cultural factors are most prominent in "The Fragmentation of the Poor Black Family." One of its most fascinating passages resurrects the "prophetic" Moynihan report, a landmark 1976 survey on race and family structure that was originally lambasted for its inclusion of cultural evidence. Situating the report both contextually and academically, the author extracts relevant aspects of Moynihan's research as he simultaneously traces the course of sociological methodology. Wilson's strength lies in hisability to see beyond the culture-versus-structure argument at the center of the discussion of race and poverty in America. This allows him, for example, to illustrate the enduring effects of such seemingly unconnected factors as globalization and "cool-pose culture" on employment among young black males..Reshapes the frame through which race and poverty are viewed.
New York Times Book Review
Straightforward, accessible and sensible, free of . . . ideological cant and posturing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393073522
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
03/22/2010
Series:
Issues of Our Time
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
756,216
File size:
227 KB

Meet the Author

William Julius Wilson is a University Professor at Harvard University, president emeritus of the American Sociological Association, and the author of numerous books, including the award-winning The Declining Significance of Race and When Work Disappears. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
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