This volume, develops three principal themes. First, poverty is not monolithic; secondly, the so-called underclass within the poverty population represents a new and corrosive development; and, third, the War on Poverty of the 1960s offered a boldness of vision that today's poverty policies tend to lack. The authors show how the social and economic costs of poverty-related problems were linked at the policy level to finding useable remedies.The United States is by far the richest country in the world, yet the specter of poverty haunts it still. Today, nearly 35 million of our citizens languish in poverty, untouched by (although certainly not unaware of) the opulence around them. The official rate of poverty at the turn of the century stood at 13.5 percent and has held roughly constant for the better part of the last decade; in fact, the rate is about where it was twenty-five years ago. How poverty can continue to exist in so rich a nation, and why it is tolerated, has mystified scholars and analysts throughout the twentieth century. Within the past decade, social scientists, journalists, policymakers, and commentators have once again re-awakened to poverty amidst our plenty. This time around, the mood is unmistakably grim.The authors of this comprehensive survey intend this as a general and largely non-technical overview of poverty, the underclass, and public policy in the contemporary United States. The book is designed to be accessible to anyone who is curious about the poverty problem. Although the work is amply documented, the scholarly apparatus of footnotes, references, and tables of data has not been permitted to overwhelm the practical, textual tasks and audience for which the work has been designed.
About the Author
James D. Wright is an author, educator, and the Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Florida. He has written twenty-four books and more than 300 journal articles, book chapters, essays, reviews, and polemics.
Joel A. Devine is chair of the Department of Sociology at Tulane University.