Urban Poverty and the Underclass: A Reader

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Over the last two decades "poverty" has moved centrestage as an issue within the social sciences. This volume, edited by one of Europe's foremost sociologists, aims to assess the debates surrounding poverty and the responses to it, exploring the ways in which the various socio-political systems and welfarist regimes are being radically transformed. The essays examine how such change is effected by failing welfare programmes and enervating social structures such as family and community which once would have provided mechanisms of social stability.

The first part of the book provides reflections on urban poverty; the second part discusses the widely debated idea of an "underclass" and its meanings in Europe and in the USA, and the final part draws on concrete empirical analyses to examine the patterns of poverty thoughout Western Europe.

This volume will be of first-rate importance to all serious students of politics, sociology, geography, public policy, youth and community studies, social policy and American studies.

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About the author

Enzo Mingione is Professor of Sociology at the University of Padova. His main fields of interest and research are poverty, unemployment and informal work. He is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and of Inchiesta. He has been a member of the EEC expert team on "The Underground Economy and Irregular Forms of Employment" and has written, with Mauro Magatti, a report on "The Informal Sector" for the European Commission.
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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Sep 15, 2008
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9780470712658
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / General
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Winner of the 2011 Robert Park Award for the Best Book in Community and Urban Sociology, American Sociological Association, 2011

Co-winner of the 2011 Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book in the Sociology of Culture, American Sociological Association, 2011

 When homelessness reemerged in American cities during the 1980s at levels not seen since the Great Depression, it initially provoked shock and outrage. Within a few years, however, what had been perceived as a national crisis came to be seen as a nuisance, with early sympathies for the plight of the homeless giving way to compassion fatigue and then condemnation. Debates around the problem of homelessness—often set in terms of sin, sickness, and the failure of the social system—have come to profoundly shape how homeless people survive and make sense of their plights. In Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders, Teresa Gowan vividly depicts the lives of homeless men in San Francisco and analyzes the influence of the homelessness industry on the streets, in the shelters, and on public policy. Gowan shows some of the diverse ways that men on the street in San Francisco struggle for survival, autonomy, and self-respect. Living for weeks at a time among homeless men—working side-by-side with them as they collected cans, bottles, and scrap metal; helping them set up camp; watching and listening as they panhandled and hawked newspapers; and accompanying them into soup kitchens, jails, welfare offices, and shelters—Gowan immersed herself in their routines, their personal stories, and their perspectives on life on the streets. She observes a wide range of survival techniques, from the illicit to the industrious, from drug dealing to dumpster diving. She also discovered that prevailing discussions about homelessness and its causes—homelessness as pathology, homelessness as moral failure, and homelessness as systemic failure—powerfully affect how homeless people see themselves and their ability to change their situation. Drawing on five years of fieldwork, this powerful ethnography of men living on the streets of the most liberal city in America, Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders, makes clear that the way we talk about issues of extreme poverty has real consequences for how we address this problem—and for the homeless themselves.
Love, Sorrow, and Rage gives powerful voice to women like Nora Gaines and Dixie Register, who tell use what it's like to live on the streets of New York, how it feels to lose your mind, about the taste of crack cocaine and the sweetness of friendship. In this novel-like narrative of homelessness and hope, poor women share a table, their meals, and their intimacies with author Alisse Waterston. On the pages of this impassioned ethnography, Waterston puts mythic, demonized bag ladies to rest, and in so doing, brings ordinary women to life.

From drug addiction and the spread of AIDS to the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S., the topics in this book get front-page coverage in daily newspapers across the country. Waterston seeks to understand, to explain, and to solve the human crisis that surrounds us. Towards this end, she challenges us to look at the ways in which our society and the workings of our political, economic, and popular culture contribute to the suffering experienced by our most vulnerable citizens. An important corrective to popular depictions of the urban poor, Love, Sorrow, and Rage provides a penetrating analysis of the causes and consequences of poverty. It offers a deeper understanding of what leads to and perpetuates poverty and of the human complex of love, sorrow, and rage felt by those who experience it.

Love, Sorrow, and Rage will engage readers interested in urban studies, women's studies, social issues and policies, anthropology, sociology, political economy, and New York City life.
The Philosophy of Homelessness is borne out of a five-year ethnographic research project involving being with a group of chronically homeless people in Chester.

A small city located in the northwest of the UK, Chester is economically supported by its heritage and the tourism that this attracts. In an obvious sense, the awkwardness of the phrase ‘being with a group of chronically homeless people’ is regrettable. Nevertheless, this unfortunately self-conscious phrase is significant, with its importance residing in the word and concept of ‘being’.

Whilst philosophical understandings of being are often thought about in rather abstract terms, The Philosophy of Homelessness explores the daily experience of chronic homelessness from a perspective that renders its ontological impress in ways that are explicitly felt, often in forms that are overtly political and exclusionary in character, especially in terms of identity and belonging within the city.

Themes that emerge from the work, which coalesce around living in the margins of the city and experiencing only the shadow of the right to be, include: the economy of chronic addiction and its impact upon the body; the relationship between chronic homelessness and the law; and chronic homelessness and identity and desire. These themes are explored through a number of thinkers, though predominantly: Nietzsche, Lacan, Bourdieu and Kristeva.

This work is likely to be of interest to anyone working in the fields of: criminology; sociology, especially those areas concerned with marginalised groups; and philosophy in its socially and politically engaged forms; as well as to those with an interest in homelessness.

WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE GENERAL NON-FICTION 

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
 
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe •  The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg •  Esquire • Buzzfeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch •  Politico •  The Week • Bookpage • Kirkus Reviews •  Amazon •  Barnes and Noble Review •  Apple •  Library Journal • Chicago Public Library • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
In The Devil in the White City, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

To find out more about this book, go to http://www.DevilInTheWhiteCity.com.
A New York Times Bestseller

Foreword by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics

When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty--and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT--two young and ambitious men a universe apart.

"Riveting."—The New York Times

"Compelling... dramatic... Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand."—Newsweek

"An eye-opening account into an underserved city within the city."—Chicago Tribune

"The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart."—The Boston Globe

"A rich portrait of the urban poor, drawn not from statistics but from viivd tales of their lives and his, and how they intertwined."—The Economist

"A sensative, sympathetic, unpatronizing portrayal of lives that are ususally ignored or lumped into ill-defined stereotype."—Finanical Times

Sudhir Venkatesh’s latest book Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy—a memoir of sociological investigation revealing the true face of America’s most diverse city—is also published by Penguin Press.


 

 

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