From Publishers Weekly
Harvard sociologist Wilson (The Declining Significance of Race
) makes a bold effort to reframe current debates on the relationship between race and poverty in the U.S. The author observes that discussions of race have hardened into two mutually exclusive and inflexible perspectives. One view regards black poverty as a consequence of social forces—e.g., segregation and the flight of middle-class black residents from urban centers. Alternately, black poverty has been portrayed as a product of individual and cultural inadequacy. Wilson argues for perspectives that acknowledge the inherent symbiosis of social and cultural forces. For example, cultural concerns about black violence in the 1970s gave rise to a more punitive response to street crime leading to greatly increased incarceration rates for black men. Employers' unwillingness to hire black ex-felons, coupled with the rise of service jobs that favor women, led to the decline of the traditional male provider role that had sustained long-term family commitments. Wilson combines a critical look at recent research on poverty and race with his own field research to construct a synthesis that sidesteps many of the pitfalls that often entrap race and poverty theorists. (Mar.)
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“A refreshing, multilayered study of racial inequality in America. . . . Reshapes the frame through which race and poverty are viewed.”
“Straightforward, accessible and sensible, free of . . . ideological cant and posturing.”