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Unknown City: The Lives of Poor and Working-Class Young Adults
     

Unknown City: The Lives of Poor and Working-Class Young Adults

by Michelle Fine, Lois Weis
 
Unique in its wide scope, this look into the lives of young adults ages 23 to 35, living in two large East Coast cities, breaks the silence and corrects misinterpretations about poor and working-class young people--a huge portion of society who are misrepresented and silent in our national conversation. 352 pp.

Overview

Unique in its wide scope, this look into the lives of young adults ages 23 to 35, living in two large East Coast cities, breaks the silence and corrects misinterpretations about poor and working-class young people--a huge portion of society who are misrepresented and silent in our national conversation. 352 pp.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As advertisers continue refining their product pitches to affluent members of Generation X and demographers struggle to place those young adults in an easily recognizable category, the poor and working class, ages 25-35, are largely ignored and misrepresented. Fine and Weis (coauthors of Beyond Silenced Voices) explore this thesis by interviewing more than 150 men and women, of differing racial backgrounds, in Buffalo, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J. The interview subjects discuss inequality, racism, domestic abuse, religion and police brutality. The authors find a sometimes startling range of opinions, illuminating differences in perception not just among racial and ethnic groups but also between people in the two cities. As the data and interviews show, one of the only things the subjects share is an undercurrent of anger toward Washington as well as toward members of their own groups. Fine and Weis address this hostility while delicately searching for signs of hope, creating a mixture of sociology, oral history and policy study. They use their graphs, figures and tables not only to present evidence of the perceptions of poor young adults but also to back up suggestions for change. What begins as an academic study about social construction becomes a revealing glimpse into the world of those whose only connection to the popular Gen-X label is their birthdate. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
An ambitious look at those members of Generation X who are too often ignoredþthe poor and working classes. Fine (Social Psychology/CUNY Graduate Center; coauthor with Lani Guinier of Becoming Gentlemen, not reviewed) and Weis (Sociology/SUNY, Buffalo) split their survey sample three ways: by location, race, and gender. The authors conducted dozens of interviews with members of the underclasses of Buffalo, NY, and Jersey City, NJ, cities that have suffered a great loss of industry in the past few generations and therefore endure high levels of poverty and unemployment. Fine and Weis separated their sample into white, Latino, and black subsamples and male and female subsections, taking several chapters to address issues that are specific to each gender/racial group, regardless of the city. They comment that violence is a concern for all, although the type of violence varies from group to group. Females view domestic violence as a primary problem. White men consider neighborhood violenceþparticularly as perpetrated by non-whitesþto be the principal violence they must resist. However, black and Latino men regard systemic state violence (e.g., police brutality) as their foe. Fine and Weis draw few absolute conclusions in their complex work. They are able to generalize that while "race, class and gender are socially constructed," they are also so deeply ingrained in oneþs identity that, for instance, þreaders canþt not know even an `anonymousþ informantþs racial groupþþa conclusion they did not predict. Without preaching, they give readers a sense of the obstacles faced by Americans who must do without. This bleak and oftenpoignant volume offers important insights into a critical but too often overlooked part of our youth culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807041123
Publisher:
Beacon
Publication date:
03/31/1998
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.29(h) x 1.23(d)

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