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The "Underclass" Debate

Views from History

By: Michael Katz (Editor)

Paperback Published: 7th December 1992
ISBN: 9780691006284
Number Of Pages: 516

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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.

Prefacep. vii
Introduction: The Urban "Underclass" as a Metaphor of Social Transformationp. 3
The Roots of Ghetto Poverty
Southern Diaspora: Origins of the Northern "Underclass"p. 27
Blacks in the Urban North: The "Underclass Question" in Historical Perspectivep. 55
The Transformation of America's Cities
The Structures of Urban Poverty: The Reorganization of Space and Work in Three Periods of American Historyp. 85
Housing the "Underclass"p. 118
Families, Networks, and Opportunities
The Ethnic Niche and the Structure of Opportunity: Immigrants and Minorities in New York Cityp. 161
The Emergence of "Underclass" Family Patterns, 1900-1940p. 194
Poverty and Family Composition since 1940p. 220
Social Science, Social Policy, and the Heritage of African-American Familiesp. 254
Politics, Institutions, and the State
The Black Poor and the Politics of Opposition in a New South City, 1929-1970p. 293
Nineteenth-Century Institutions: Dealing with the Urban "Underclass"p. 334
Urban Education and the "Truly Disadvantaged": The Historical Roots of the Contemporary Crisis, 1945-1990p. 366
The State, the Movement, and the Urban Poor: The War on Poverty and Political Mobilization in the 1960sp. 403
Conclusion: Reframing the "Underclass" Debatep. 440
Contributorsp. 479
Name Indexp. 483
Subject Indexp. 499
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691006284
ISBN-10: 0691006288
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 516
Published: 7th December 1992
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.42 x 15.49  x 3.15
Weight (kg): 0.74