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The "Underclass" Debate: Views from History / Edition 1

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Overview

Do ominous reports of an emerging "underclass" reveal an unprecedented crisis in American society? Or are social commentators simply rediscovering the tragedy of recurring urban poverty, as they seem to do every few decades? Although social scientists and members of the public make frequent assumptions about these questions, they have little information about the crucial differences between past and present. By providing a badly needed historical context, these essays reframe today's "underclass" debate. Realizing that labels of "social pathology" echo fruitless distinctions between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, the contributors focus not on individual and family behavior but on a complex set of processes that have been at work over a long period, degrading the inner cities and, inevitably, the nation as a whole.

How do individuals among the urban poor manage to survive? How have they created a dissident "infrapolitics?" How have social relations within the urban ghettos changed? What has been the effect of industrial restructuring on poverty? Besides exploring these questions, the contributors discuss the influence of African traditions on the family patterns of African Americans, the origins of institutions that serve the urban poor, the reasons for the crisis in urban education, the achievements and limits of the War on Poverty, and the role of income transfers, earnings, and the contributions of family members in overcoming poverty. The message of the essays is clear: Americans will flourish or fail together.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691006284
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/17/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 520
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: The Urban "Underclass" as a Metaphor of Social Transformation 3
Pt. 1 The Roots of Ghetto Poverty
Ch. 1 Southern Diaspora: Origins of the Northern "Underclass" 27
Ch. 2 Blacks in the Urban North: The "Underclass Question" in Historical Perspective 55
Pt. 2 The Transformation of America's Cities
Ch. 3 The Structures of Urban Poverty: The Reorganization of Space and Work in Three Periods of American History 85
Ch. 4 Housing the "Underclass" 118
Pt. 3 Families, Networks, and Opportunities
Ch. 5 The Ethnic Niche and the Structure of Opportunity: Immigrants and Minorities in New York City 161
Ch. 6 The Emergence of "Underclass" Family Patterns, 1900-1940 194
Ch. 7 Poverty and Family Composition since 1940 220
Ch. 8 Social Science, Social Policy, and the Heritage of African-American Families 254
Pt. 4 Politics, Institutions, and the State
Ch. 9 The Black Poor and the Politics of Opposition in a New South City, 1929-1970 293
Ch. 10 Nineteenth-Century Institutions: Dealing with the Urban "Underclass" 334
Ch. 11 Urban Education and the "Truly Disadvantaged": The Historical Roots of the Contemporary Crisis, 1945-1990 366
Ch. 12 The State, the Movement, and the Urban Poor: The War on Poverty and Political Mobilization in the 1960s 403
Conclusion: Reframing the "Underclass" Debate 440
Contributors 479
Name Index 483
Subject Index 499
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