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The Declining Significance of Race : Blacks and Changing American Institutions [Paperback]

William Julius Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions, Third Edition The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions, Third Edition
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Book Description

December 15, 1980 0226901297 978-0226901299 Second Edition
This new paperback edition includes a major new essay in which William Julius Wilson not only reflects on the debate surrounding his book, but also presents a provocative discussion of race, class, and social policy.

"Wilson has written a profound and provocative book that is destined to become a classic in the field. He has articulated the issues with which future researchers will have to deal. Truly, he has made a contribution to social science."--Wilson Record, American Journal of Sociology

"The intellectual strength of this book lies in his capacity to integrate disparate findings from historical studies, social theory and research on contemporary trends into a complex and original synthesis that challenges widespread assumptions about the cause of black disadvantage and the way to remove it."--Paul Starr, New York Times Book Review

This is a short but important book. . . . Wilson presents a cogent and convincing interpretation of how the changing political and economic structure of the United States profoundly affected the position of black Americans."--Pierre van den Berghe, Sociology and Social Research

"This publication is easily one of the most erudite and sober diagnoses of the American black situation. Students of race relations and anybody in a policy-making position cannot afford to bypass this study."--Ernest Manheim, Sociology

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program and the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. He is the author of numerous publications, including The Declining Significance of Race, and The Truly Disadvantaged, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Second Edition edition (December 15, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226901297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226901299
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William Julius Wilson, genius November 12, 2006
William Julius Wilson is the premiere researcher in the world in the area of African American's role in the American workforce. He is an African American (I am of European descent) and one of only a few University Professors (the most prestigious post for a faculty member) at Harvard University. The book is a brilliant historical account of the changing attitudes towards African Americans in the United States and the ramifications of those changes in the economic realm. I am an economist (Ph.D. from the University of Chicago), and it is rare to see such a level of economic intuition applied to any issue, even from the best economists. This is one of the most impressive books I have read in my life. And in reference to an earlier review, the book in no way claims that racism is "a thing of the past." However, it is perhaps understandable that one might misinterpret the title or simplify the book into making this argument. The book does refer to the the growing relevance of class compared to race in explaining African American economic outcomes today. However, that is more of an end point for the book than a consistent theme running throughout. As the opening two sentences of the second to last chapter state (the chapter has the same title as the book): "This study has revealed that although racial oppression, when viewed from the broad perspective of historical change in American society, was a salient and important feature during the pre-industrial and the industrial periods of race relations in the United States, the problems of subordination for certain segments of the black population and the experiences of social advancement for others are more directly associated with economic class in the modern industrial period. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
William Julius Wilson (born 1935) is an African-American sociologist, who worked at the University of Chicago (1972-1996) before moving to Harvard. He is also the author of important books such as When Work Disappears : The World of the New Urban Poor and The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy.

He writes in the Preface to this 1980 book, "This book is a study of race and class in the American experience. Its focus is a rather significant departure from that of my previous book, Power, Racism and Privilege, in which I paid little attention to the role of class in understanding issues of race. I now feel that many important features of black and white relations in America are not captured when the issue is defined as majority versus minority and that a preoccupation with race and racial conflict obscures fundamental problems that derive from the intersection of class and race. I should hasten to point out, however, that I do not subscribe to the view that racial problems are necessarily derived from the more fundamental economic class problems. The issues are far more complex than such an analysis would suggest."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"My basic thesis is that American society has experienced three major stages of black-white contact and that each stage embodies a different form of racial stratification structured by the particular arrangement of both the economy and the polity. Stage one ...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A new look at racial issues March 30, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
William J. Wilson is a provocative writer and his ideas offer fresh insight into racial issues. He tries to sell the idea that race is not as important as class. Although racial issues are still an issue, class-based discrimination occurs much more often than racial discrimination does. To fully understand his ideas - read the book. He discusses how class issues have risen from racial issues and how discrimination on race is illegal while class discrimination is not.
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