More than just race : being black and poor in the inner city /
William Julius Wilson.
New York, N.Y. : Norton & Company, c2009.
xii, 190 p. ; 22 cm.
039306705X (hardcover), 9780393067057 (hardcover)
More Details
New York, N.Y. : Norton & Company, c2009.
039306705X (hardcover)
9780393067057 (hardcover)
contents note
Structural and cultural forces that contribute to racial inequality -- The forces shaping concentrated poverty -- The economic plight of inner-city black males -- The fragmentation of the poor black family -- Framing the issues : uniting structure and culture.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, USA, 2010 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2008-12-08:
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2010-02-01:
A distinguished sociologist, Wilson (Harvard) revisits arguments about the weight of structural and cultural factors affecting poor black communities. Chapters cover forces shaping blacks' "concentrated poverty," economic situations of inner-city blacks, fragmented black families, and framing public policies. Wilson gives more attention to contemporary discrimination than he did in his controversial The Declining Significance of Race (1978) and in such recent books as When Work Disappears (CH, Mar'97, 34-4179), but he accents even more other structural factors--urban redevelopment, weak labor policies, export of jobs--mostly seen as nonracial. He provides an insightful, detailed assessment of possible linkages between structural and cultural factors and looks at the impact of the latter (e.g., poor verbal skills, marital choices) in handicapping inner-city residents. He provides no comparable examination of the systemic racism underlying economic-structural factors. And he does not examine the discriminatory role of whites (employers, school officials) in contemporary inner-city problems. In a conclusion calling for policy makers to reframe structural and cultural factors, the author underscores racial-justice issues, but he provides no concrete suggestions for dealing with the persisting pathology of white racism as it affects inner-city problems. Includes endnotes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professional; general readers. J. R. Feagin Texas A&M University
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, December 2008
New York Times Book Review, March 2009
Washington Post, March 2009
New York Times Full Text Review, October 2009
Choice, February 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
In this provocative contribution to the American discourse on race, the newest book of the Issues of Our Time series edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr., William Julius Wilson applies an exciting new analytic framework to three politically fraught social problems: the persistence of the inner-city ghetto, the plight of low-skilled black males, and the fragmentation of the African American family. Though the discussion of racial inequality is typically ideologically polarized--conservatives emphasize cultural factors like worldviews and behaviors while liberals emphasize institutional forces--Wilson dares to consider both institutional and cultural factors as causes of the persistence of racial inequality. He reaches the controversial conclusion that, while structural and cultural forces are inextricably linked, public policy can change the racial status quo only by reforming the institutions that reinforce it. This book will dramatically affect policy debates and challenge many of the leaders.

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