Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen

Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen

by Stephen Pimpare


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Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down & Out on the Silver Screen explores how American movies have portrayed poor and homeless people from the silent era to today. It provides a novel kind of guide to social policy, exploring how ideas about poor and homeless people have been reflected in popular culture and evaluating those images against the historical and contemporary reality. Richly illustrated and examining nearly 300 American-made films released between 1902 and 2015, Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens finds and describes representations of poor and homeless people and the places they have inhabited throughout the century-long history of U.S. cinema. It moves beyond the merely descriptive to deliberate whether cinematic representations of homelessness and poverty changed over time, and if there are patterns to be discerned. Ultimately, the text offers a preliminary response to a handful of harder questions about causation and consequence: Why are these portrayals as they are? Where do they come from? Are they a reflection of American attitudes and policies toward marginalized populations, or do they help create them? What does this all mean for politics and policymaking?

Of interest to movie buffs and film scholars, cultural critics and historians, policy analysts, and those curious to know more about homelessness and American poverty, Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens is a unique window into American politics, history, policy, and culture — it is an entertaining and enlightening journey.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190660727
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 06/22/2017
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 1,085,246
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Stephen Pimpare, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in American Politics and Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of two previous books, A People's History of Poverty in America (2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award from the American Political Science Association, and The New Victorians: Poverty, Politics & Propaganda in Two Gilded Ages (2004). After thirty years in New York City, he now lives in rural New Hampshire with his husband, two goats, two pigs, twelve chickens, and six turkeys.

Table of Contents


Part I. In the Ghetto: Poor Places and the People in Them
1. Evils of the City: Poverty and Crime
2. Modern Gangs and Ghetto Gurls
3. The Urban Hellscape
4. Social Workers and Charity Reformers
5. Welfare Queens
6. Teachers to the Rescue
7. The Architecture of Poverty
8. Escaping the City: Rural Poverty

Part II. On the Street, On the Road: Poor Out of Doors
9. The First Tramp
10. The Last Free Tramp and the Hobo Played for Laughs
11. Impostor Tramps
12. Forgotten Men
13. The Depression Through the Eyes of the Clever Child
14. The Modern Tramp: Villain
15. The Modern Tramp: Victor
16. The Modern Tramp: Victim
17. Women and Children Last

Key Films Discussed
Books and Articles Cited

Customer Reviews