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Russell Sage Foundation
Social Isolation in the Twenty-First Century
Seefeldt explores the economic and political obstacles that have altered the pathways for opportunity. She finds that while many low-income individuals work, enroll in higher education, and attempt to use social safety net benefits in times of crisis, they primarily have access to subpar institutions, which often hamper their efforts to get ahead. Many of these workers hold unstable, low-paying service sector jobs that provide few paths for advancement and exacerbate their social isolation. Those who pursue higher education to gain qualifications for better paying jobs often enroll in for-profit schools and online programs that push them into debt but rarely lead to secure employment or even a degree. And while home ownership was once the best way to establish wealth, Seefeldt finds that in declining cities like Detroit, it can saddle low-income owners with underwater mortgages in depopulated neighborhoods. Finally, she shows that the 1996 federal welfare reform and other retrenchments in the social safety net have made it more difficult for struggling families to access public benefits that could alleviate their economic hardships. When benefits are difficult to access, families often take on debt as a way of managing. Taken together, these factors contribute to what Seefeldt calls the “social abandonment” of vulnerable families.
Abandoned Families is a timely, on-the-ground assessment of hardship in contemporary America. Seefeldt exposes the shortcomings of the institutions that once fostered upward mobility and shows how sweeping policy measures—including new labor protections, expansion of the social safety net, increased regulation of for-profit colleges, and reparations—could help lift up those who have fallen behind.
Consequences of Diversity in Federal Evaluation Studies
As social action programs in health, education, and welfare have expanded, interest has grown in evaluating their implementation and effectiveness. Policymakers and social planners--at all levels of government and in the private sector--are currently confronted with the problem of evaluating the large number of human service programs that compete for available resources.
Academic and Entrepreneurial Research presents a systematic study of the expenditure of federal funds for evaluation research. It reviews federally-supported evaluations of programs, including evaluations of social change experiments and research-demonstration programs funded by the various executive departments of the federal government. Evaluation studies of these large-scale programs vary in scope, quality, and potential utility. Bernstein and Freeman examine all projects initiated during fiscal year 1970 in order to understand better the methods employed, the types of persons engaged in such research, and expectations regarding the utilization of findings.
The book provides data about "high" and "low" quality evaluation research and contains recommendations for restructuring the entire evaluation research enterprise in light of the findings.
Examines the conditions under which motives to achieve are fostered in children. The papers included in this volume reflect the major traditions of research in the field and bring together a set of studies for achieving a better understanding of the ways in which achievement-related personality characteristics develop and function in evaluative or competitive situations.
How New Immigrants Do in American Schools, Jobs, and Neighborhoods
Can the recent influx of immigrants successfully enter the mainstream of American life, or will many of them fail to thrive and become part of a permanent underclass? Achieving Anew examines immigrant life in school, at work, and in communities and demonstrates that recent immigrants and their children do make substantial progress over time, both within and between generations. From policymakers to private citizens, our national conversation on immigration has consistently questioned the country’s ability to absorb increasing numbers of foreign nationals—now nearly one million legal entrants per year. Using census data, longitudinal education surveys, and other data, Michael White and Jennifer Glick place their study of new immigrant achievement within a context of recent developments in assimilation theory and policies regulating who gets in and what happens to them upon arrival. They find that immigrant status itself is not an important predictor of educational achievement. First-generation immigrants arrive in the United States with less education than native-born Americans, but by the second and third generation, the children of immigrants are just as successful in school as native-born students with equivalent social and economic background. As with prior studies, the effects of socioeconomic background and family structure show through strongly. On education attainment, race and ethnicity have a strong impact on achievement initially, but less over time. Looking at the labor force, White and Glick find no evidence to confirm the often-voiced worry that recent immigrants and their children are falling behind earlier arrivals. On the contrary, immigrants of more recent vintage tend to catch up to the occupational status of natives more quickly than in the past. Family background, educational preparation, and race/ethnicity all play a role in labor market success, just as they do for the native born, but the offspring of immigrants suffer no disadvantage due to their immigrant origins. New immigrants continue to live in segregated neighborhoods, though with less prevalence than native black-white segregation. Immigrants who arrived in the 1960s are now much less segregated than recent arrivals. Indeed, the authors find that residential segregation declines both within and across generations. Yet black and Mexican immigrants are more segregated from whites than other groups, showing that race and economic status still remain powerful influences on where immigrants live. Although the picture is mixed and the continuing significance of racial factors remains a concern, Achieving Anew provides compelling reassurance that the recent wave of immigrants is making impressive progress in joining the American mainstream. The process of assimilation is not broken, the advent of a new underclass is not imminent, and the efforts to argue for the restriction of immigration based on these fears are largely mistaken.
Entries and Exits
Addiction focuses on the emergence, nature, and persistence of addictive behavior, as well as the efforts of addicts to overcome their condition. Do addicts act of their own free will, or are they driven by forces beyond their control? Do structured treatment programs offer more hope for recovery? What causes relapses to occur? Recent scholarship has focused attention on the voluntary aspects of addiction, particularly the role played by choice. Addiction draws upon this new research and the investigations of economists, psychiatrists, philosophers, neuropharmacologists, historians, and sociologists to offer an important new approach to our understanding of addictive behavior.
The notion that addicts favor present rewards over future gains or penalties echoes throughout the chapters in Addiction. The effect of cultural values and beliefs on addicts, and on those who treat them, is also explored, particularly in chapters by Elster on alcoholism and by Acker on American heroin addicts in the 1920s and 1930s. Essays by Gardner and by Waal and Mørland discuss the neurobiological roots of addiction Among their findings are evidence that addictive drugs also have an important effect on areas of the central nervous system unrelated to euphoria or dysphoria, and that tolerance and withdrawal phenomena vary greatly from drug to drug.
The plight of addicts struggling to regain control of their lives receives important consideration in Addiction. Elster, Skog, and O'Donoghue and Rabin look at self-administered therapies ranging from behavioral modifications to cognitive techniques, and discuss conditions under which various treatment strategies work. Drug-based forms of treatment are discussed by Gardner, drawing on work that suggests that parts of the population have low levels of dopamine, inducing a tendency toward sensation-seeking.
There are many different explanations for the impulsive, self-destructive behavior that is addiction. By bringing the triple perspective of neurobiology, choice, and culture to bear on the phenomenon, Addiction offers a unique and valuable source of information and debate on a problem of world-wide proportions.
Advocacy and Change in a Government Agency
Uses the case study of the California Industrial Accident Commission to explore issues in sociological jurisprudence. It traces the progression of the Commission from a welfare agency with broad discretion in policymaking and interpretation into a relatively passive arbitrator of industrial accident claim disputes. The author examines the effect of the elaboration of legal rules and doctrines, the significance of the procedural aspects of law, and the interplay of the legal process and institutional change. He then notes the conditions which will either permit or restrain a legal process that will remain highly responsive to social needs.
The Development of the Policy Sciences
Policy analysis, as a practical matter, is hardly new. Throughout history, rulers have sought advice from priests or sages, and monarchs have conferred with counselors. The emergence of empirical social research in the nineteenth century laid the groundwork for policy advice that was more than an idiosyncratic political exercise, but it was not until well into this century that the systematic examination of policy issues became feasible.
Advice and Consent traces the recent course of the "policy sciences," a term coined in 1951 to describe an analytic approach that draws on political science, sociology, law, economics, psychology, and operations research to examine specific social problems in context. Peter deLeon's unique contribution is to delineate two separate but related currents in the development of the policy sciences: first, the evolution of intellectual tools for analysis ("advice"); and second, the evolution of a perceived need for policy research as prompted by events such as the war on poverty ("consent").
Peter deLeon's concise and literate account of how these two trends shaped the policy sciences and affected each other clarifies the present state of policy research, explores its failure to realize fully its ideals, and frames the challenges facing the policy sciences as they struggle to complete their transformation from academic fancy to institutional fact.
From College Access to College Success
Enrollment at America’s community colleges has exploded in recent years, with five times as many entering students today as in 1965. However, most community college students do not graduate; many earn no credits and may leave school with no more advantages in the labor market than if they had never attended. Experts disagree over the reason for community colleges’ mixed record. Is it that the students in these schools are under-prepared and ill-equipped for the academic rigors of college? Are the colleges themselves not adapting to keep up with the needs of the new kinds of students they are enrolling? In After Admission, James Rosenbaum, Regina Deil-Amen, and Ann Person weigh in on this debate with a close look at this important trend in American higher education. After Admission compares community colleges with private occupational colleges that offer accredited associates degrees. The authors examine how these different types of institutions reach out to students, teach them social and cultural skills valued in the labor market, and encourage them to complete a degree. Rosenbaum, Deil-Amen, and Person find that community colleges are suffering from a kind of identity crisis as they face the inherent complexities of guiding their students towards four-year colleges or to providing them with vocational skills to support a move directly into the labor market. This confusion creates administrative difficulties and problems allocating resources. However, these contradictions do not have to pose problems for students. After Admission shows that when colleges present students with clear pathways, students can effectively navigate the system in a way that fits their needs. The occupational colleges the authors studied employed close monitoring of student progress, regular meetings with advisors and peer cohorts, and structured plans for helping students meet career goals in a timely fashion. These procedures helped keep students on track and, the authors suggest, could have the same effect if implemented at community colleges. As college access grows in America, institutions must adapt to meet the needs of a new generation of students. After Admission highlights organizational innovations that can help guide students more effectively through higher education.
Newcomers and Natives in the 1910 Census
After Ellis Island is an unprecedented study of America's foreign-born population at a critical juncture in immigration history. The new century had witnessed a tremendous surge in European immigration, and by 1910 immigrants and their children numbered nearly one third of the U.S. population. The census of that year drew from these newcomers a particularly rich trove of descriptive information, one from which the contributors to After Ellis Island draw to create an unmatched profile of American society in transition.
Chapters written especially for this volume explore many aspects of the immigrants' lives, such as where they settled, the jobs they held, how long they remained in school, and whether or not they learned to speak English. More than a demographic catalog, After Ellis Island employs a wide range of comparisons among ethnic groups to probe whether differences in childbirth, child mortality, and education could be traced to cultural or environmental causes. Did differences in schooling levels diminish among groups in the same social and economic circumstances, or did they persist along ethnic lines? Did absorption into mainstream America—measured through duration of U.S. residence, neighborhood mingling, and ability to speak English—blur ethnic differences and increase chances for success? After Ellis Island also shows how immigrants eased the nation's transition from agriculture to manufacturing by providing essential industrial laborers.
After Ellis Island offers a major assessment of ethnic diversity in early twentieth century American society. The questions it addresses about assimilation and employment among immigrants in 1910 acquire even greater significance as we observe a renewed surge of foreign arrivals. This volume will be valuable to sociologists and historians of immigration, to demographers and economists, and to all those interested in the relationship of ethnicity to opportunity.
A Theory of Social Action for the Twenty-First Century
Esteemed twentieth-century sociologist Talcott Parsons sought to develop a comprehensive and coherent scheme for sociology that could be applied to every society and historical epoch, and address every aspect of human social organization and culture. His theory of social action has exerted enormous influence across a wide range of social science disciplines. After Parsons, edited by Renée Fox, Victor Lidz, and Harold Bershady, provides a critical reexamination of Parsons' theory in light of historical changes in the world and advances in sociological thought since his death.
After Parsons is a fresh examination of Parsons' theoretical undertaking, its significance for social scientific thought, and its implications for present-day empirical research. The book is divided into four parts: Social Institutions and Social Processes; Societal Community and Modernization; Sociology and Culture; and the Human Condition. The chapters deal with Parsons' notions of societal community, societal evolution, and modernization and modernity. After Parsons addresses major themes of enduring relevance, including social differentiation and cultural diversity, social solidarity, universalism and particularism, and trust and affect in social life. The contributors explore these topics in a wide range of social institutions—family and kinship, economy, polity, the law, medicine, art, and religion—and within the context of contemporary developments such as globalization, the power of the United States as an "empireless empire," the emergence of forms of fundamentalism, the upsurge of racial, tribal, and ethnic conflicts, and the increasing occurence of deterministic and positivistic thought.
Rather than simply celebrating Parsons and his accomplishments, the contributors to After Parsons rethink and reformulate his ideas to place them on more solid foundations, extend their scope, and strengthen their empirical insights. After Parsons constitutes the work of a distinguished roster of American and European sociologists who find Parsons' theory of action a valuable resource for addressing contemporary issues in sociological theory. All of the essays in this volume take elements of Parsons' theory and critique, adapt, refine, or extend them to gain fresh purchase on problems that confront sociologists today.