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Strengths, Weaknesses, and Strategies for Change
The majority of African American children live in homes without their fathers, but the proportion of African American children living in intact, two-parent families has risen significantly since 1995. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society looks at father absence from two sides, offering an in-depth analysis of how the absence of African American fathers affects their children, their relationships, and society as a whole, while countering the notion that father absence and family fragmentation within the African American community is inevitable. Editors Obie Clayton, Ronald B. Mincy, and David Blankenhorn lead a diverse group of contributors encompassing a range of disciplines and ideological perspectives who all agree that father absence among black families is one of the most pressing social problems today. In part I, the contributors offer possible explanations for the decline in marriage among African American families. William Julius Wilson believes that many men who live in the inner city no longer consider marriage an option because their limited economic prospects do not enable them to provide for a family. Part II considers marriage from an economic perspective, emphasizing that it is in part a wealth-producing institution. Maggie Gallagher points out that married people earn, invest, and save more than single people, and that when marriage rates are low in a community, it is the children who suffer most. In part III, the contributors discuss policies to reduce absentee fatherhood. Wornie Reed demonstrates how public health interventions, such as personal development workshops and work-related skill-building services, can be used to address the causes of fatherlessness. Wade Horn illustrates the positive results achieved by fatherhood programs, especially when held early in a man's life. In the last chapter, Enola Aird notes that from 1995 to 2000, the proportion of African American children living in two-parent, married couple homes rose from 34.8 to 38.9 percent; a significant increase indicating the possible reversal of the long-term shift toward black family fragmentation. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society provides an in-depth look at a problem affecting millions of children while offering proof that the trend of father absence is not irrevocable.
In 1999, one in four British children lived in poverty—the third highest child poverty rate among industrialized countries. Five years later, the child poverty rate in Britain had fallen by more than half in absolute terms. How did the British government accomplish this and what can the United States learn from the British experience? Jane Waldfogel offers a sharp analysis of the New Labour government’s anti-poverty agenda, its dramatic early success and eventual stalled progress. Comparing Britain’s anti-poverty initiative to U.S. welfare reform, the book shows how the policies of both countries have affected child poverty, living standards, and well-being in low-income families and suggests next steps for future reforms. Britain’s War on Poverty evaluates the three-pronged anti-poverty strategy employed by the British government and what these efforts accomplished. British reforms sought to promote work and make work pay, to increase financial support for families with children, and to invest in the health, early-life development, and education of children. The latter two features set the British reforms apart from the work-oriented U.S. welfare reforms, which did not specifically target income or program supports for children. Plagued by premature initiatives and what some experts called an overly ambitious agenda, the British reforms fell short of their intended goal but nevertheless significantly increased single-parent employment, raised incomes for low-income families, and improved child outcomes. Poverty has fallen, and the pattern of low-income family expenditures on child enrichment and healthy food has begun to converge with higher-income families. As Waldfogel sees it, further success in reducing child poverty in Britain will rely on understanding who is poor and who is at highest risk. More than half of poor children live in families where at least one parent is working, followed by unemployed single- and two-parent homes, respectively. Poverty rates are also notably higher for children with disabled parents, large families, and for Pakistani and Bangladeshi children. Based on these demographics, Waldfogel argues that future reforms must, among other goals, raise working-family incomes, provide more work for single parents, and better engage high-risk racial and ethnic minority groups. What can the United States learn from the British example? Britain’s War on Poverty is a primer in the triumphs and pitfalls of protracted policy. Notable differences distinguish the British and U.S. models, but Waldfogel asserts that a future U.S. poverty agenda must specifically address child poverty and the income inequality that helps create it. By any measurement and despite obstacles, Britain has significantly reduced child poverty. The book’s key lesson is that it can be done.
The Detroit Newspaper Strike and the State of American Labor
When the Detroit newspaper strike was settled in December 2000, it marked the end of five years of bitter and violent dispute. No fewer than six local unions, representing 2,500 employees, struck against the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, and their corporate owners, charging unfair labor practices. The newspapers hired permanent replacement workers and paid millions of dollars for private security and police enforcement; the unions and their supporters took their struggle to the streets by organizing a widespread circulation and advertising boycott, conducting civil disobedience, and publishing a weekly strike newspaper. In the end, unions were forced to settle contracts on management’s terms, and fired strikers received no amnesty. In The Broken Table, Chris Rhomberg sees the Detroit strike as a historic collision of two opposing forces: a system in place since the New Deal governing disputes between labor and management, and decades of increasingly aggressive corporate efforts to eliminate unions. As a consequence, one of the fundamental institutions of American labor relations—the negotiation table—has been broken, Rhomberg argues, leaving the future of the collective bargaining relationship and democratic workplace governance in question. The Broken Table uses interview and archival research to explore the historical trajectory of this breakdown, its effect on workers’ economic outlook, and the possibility of restoring democratic governance to the business-labor relationship. Emerging from the New Deal, the 1935 National Labor Relations Act protected the practice of collective bargaining and workers’ rights to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment by legally recognizing union representation. This system became central to the democratic workplace, where workers and management were collective stakeholders. But efforts to erode the legal protections of the NLRA began immediately, leading to a parallel track of anti-unionism that began to gain ascendancy in the 1980s. The Broken Table shows how the tension created by these two opposing forces came to a head after a series of key labor disputes over the preceding decades culminated in the Detroit newspaper strike. Detroit union leadership charged management with unfair labor practices after employers had unilaterally limited the unions’ ability to bargain over compensation and work conditions. Rhomberg argues that, in the face of management claims of absolute authority, the strike was an attempt by unions to defend workers’ rights and the institution of collective bargaining, and to stem the rising tide of post-1980s anti-unionism. In an era when the incidence of strikes in the United States has been drastically reduced, the 1995 Detroit newspaper strike stands out as one of the largest and longest work stoppages in the past two decades. A riveting read full of sharp analysis, The Broken Table revisits the Detroit case in order to show the ways this strike signaled the new terrain in labor-management conflict. The book raises broader questions of workplace governance and accountability that affect us all.
Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times
Anti-immigrant sentiment reached a fever pitch after 9/11, but its origins go back much further. Public rhetoric aimed at exposing a so-called invasion of Latino immigrants has been gaining ground for more than three decades—and fueling increasingly restrictive federal immigration policy. Accompanied by a flagging U.S. economy—record-level joblessness, bankruptcy, and income inequality—as well as waning consumer confidence, these conditions signaled one of the most hostile environments for immigrants in recent memory. In Brokered Boundaries, Douglas Massey and Magaly Sánchez untangle the complex political, social, and economic conditions underlying the rise of xenophobia in U.S. society. The book draws on in-depth interviews with Latin American immigrants in metropolitan New York and Philadelphia and—in their own words and images—reveals what life is like for immigrants attempting to integrate in anti-immigrant times. What do the social categories “Latino” and “American” actually mean to today’s immigrants? Brokered Boundaries analyzes how first- and second-generation immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean navigate these categories and their associated meanings as they make their way through U.S. society. Massey and Sánchez argue that the mythos of immigration, in which newcomers gradually shed their respective languages, beliefs, and cultural practices in favor of a distinctly American way of life, is, in reality, a process of negotiation between new arrivals and native-born citizens. Natives control interactions with outsiders by creating institutional, social, psychological, and spatial mechanisms that delimit immigrants’ access to material resources and even social status. Immigrants construct identities based on how they perceive and respond to these social boundaries. The authors make clear that today’s Latino immigrants are brokering boundaries in the context of unprecedented economic uncertainty, repressive anti-immigrant legislation, and a heightening fear that upward mobility for immigrants translates into downward mobility for the native-born. Despite an absolute decline in Latino immigration, immigration-related statutes have tripled in recent years, including many that further shred the safety net for legal permanent residents as well as the undocumented. Brokered Boundaries shows that, although Latin American immigrants come from many different countries, their common reception in a hostile social environment produces an emergent Latino identity soon after arrival. During anti-immigrant times, however, the longer immigrants stay in America, the more likely they are to experience discrimination and the less likely they are to identify as Americans.
The American Stratification System
The United States holds the dubious distinction of having the most unequal income distribution of any advanced industrialized nation. While other developed countries face similar challenges from globalization and technological change, none rivals America’s singularly poor record for equitably distributing the benefits and burdens of recent economic shifts. In Categorically Unequal, Douglas Massey weaves together history, political economy, and even neuropsychology to provide a comprehensive explanation of how America’s culture and political system perpetuates inequalities between different segments of the population. Categorically Unequal is striking both for its theoretical originality and for the breadth of topics it covers. Massey argues that social inequalities arise from the universal human tendency to place others into social categories. In America, ethnic minorities, women, and the poor have consistently been the targets of stereotyping, and as a result, they have been exploited and discriminated against throughout the nation’s history. African-Americans continue to face discrimination in markets for jobs, housing, and credit. Meanwhile, the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border has discouraged Mexican migrants from leaving the United States, creating a pool of exploitable workers who lack the legal rights of citizens. Massey also shows that women’s advances in the labor market have been concentrated among the affluent and well-educated, while low-skilled female workers have been relegated to occupations that offer few chances for earnings mobility. At the same time, as the wages of low-income men have fallen, more working-class women are remaining unmarried and raising children on their own. Even as minorities and women continue to face these obstacles, the progressive legacy of the New Deal has come under frontal assault. The government has passed anti-union legislation, made taxes more regressive, allowed the real value of the federal minimum wage to decline, and drastically cut social welfare spending. As a result, the income gap between the richest and poorest has dramatically widened since 1980. Massey attributes these anti-poor policies in part to the increasing segregation of neighborhoods by income, which has insulated the affluent from the social consequences of poverty, and to the disenfranchisement of the poor, as the population of immigrants, prisoners, and ex-felons swells. America’s unrivaled disparities are not simply the inevitable result of globalization and technological change. As Massey shows, privileged groups have systematically exploited and excluded many of their fellow Americans. By delving into the root causes of inequality in America, Categorically Unequal provides a compelling argument for the creation of a more equitable society.
Diversity and Unity Among Americans, 1900-2000
In every generation, Americans have worried about the solidarity of the nation. Since the days of the Mayflower, those already settled here have wondered how newcomers with different cultures, values, and (frequently) skin color would influence America. Would the new groups create polarization and disharmony? Thus far, the United States has a remarkable track record of incorporating new people into American society, but acceptance and assimilation have never meant equality. In Century of Difference, Claude Fischer and Michael Hout provide a compelling—and often surprising—new take on the divisions and commonalities among the American public over the tumultuous course of the twentieth century. Using a hundred years worth of census and opinion poll data, Century of Difference shows how the social, cultural, and economic fault lines in American life shifted in the last century. It demonstrates how distinctions that once loomed large later dissipated, only to be replaced by new ones. Fischer and Hout find that differences among groups by education, age, and income expanded, while those by gender, region, national origin, and, even in some ways, race narrowed. As the twentieth century opened, a person’s national origin was of paramount importance, with hostilities running high against Africans, Chinese, and southern and eastern Europeans. Today, diverse ancestries are celebrated with parades. More important than ancestry for today’s Americans is their level of schooling. Americans with advanced degrees are increasingly putting distance between themselves and the rest of society—in both a literal and a figurative sense. Differences in educational attainment are tied to expanding inequalities in earnings, job quality, and neighborhoods. Still, there is much that ties all Americans together. Century of Difference knocks down myths about a growing culture war. Using seventy years of survey data, Fischer and Hout show that Americans did not become more fragmented over values in the late-twentieth century, but rather were united over shared ideals of self-reliance, family, and even religion. As public debate has flared up over such matters as immigration restrictions, the role of government in redistributing resources to the poor, and the role of religion in public life, it is important to take stock of the divisions and linkages that have typified the U.S. population over time. Century of Difference lucidly profiles the evolution of American social and cultural differences over the last century, examining the shifting importance of education, marital status, race, ancestry, gender, and other factors on the lives of Americans past and present.
Transnational Lives of the Second Generation, The
The children of immigrants account for the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population under 18 years old—one out of every five children in the United States. Will this generation of immigrant children follow the path of earlier waves of immigrants and gradually assimilate into mainstream American life, or does the global nature of the contemporary world mean that the trajectory of today's immigrants will be fundamentally different? Rather than severing their ties to their home countries, many immigrants today sustain economic, political, and religious ties to their homelands, even as they work, vote, and pray in the countries that receive them. The Changing Face of Home is the first book to examine the extent to which the children of immigrants engage in such transnational practices. Because most second generation immigrants are still young, there is much debate among immigration scholars about the extent to which these children will engage in transnational practices in the future. While the contributors to this volume find some evidence of transnationalism among the children of immigrants, they disagree over whether these activities will have any long-term effects. Part I of the volume explores how the practice and consequences of transnationalism vary among different groups. Contributors Philip Kasinitz, Mary Waters, and John Mollenkopf use findings from their large study of immigrant communities in New York City to show how both distance and politics play important roles in determining levels of transnational activity. For example, many Latin American and Caribbean immigrants are "circular migrants" spending much time in both their home countries and the United States, while Russian Jews and Chinese immigrants have far less contact of any kind with their homelands. In Part II, the contributors comment on these findings, offering suggestions for reconceptualizing the issue and bridging analytical differences. In her chapter, Nancy Foner makes valuable comparisons with past waves of immigrants as a way of understanding the conditions that may foster or mitigate transnationalism among today's immigrants. The final set of chapters examines how home and host country value systems shape how second generation immigrants construct their identities, and the economic, social, and political communities to which they ultimately express allegiance. The Changing Face of Home presents an important first round of research and dialogue on the activities and identities of the second generation vis-a-vis their ancestral homelands, and raises important questions for future research.
Young Adult Children of Immigrants in Europe and the United States
A seismic population shift is taking place as many formerly racially homogeneous cities in the West attract a diverse influx of newcomers seeking economic and social advancement. Not only do young people from immigrant backgrounds make up a large and growing share of these cities’ populations but they will steadily replace the native-born baby boom generation as it ages out of the workplace and positions of influence. In The Changing Face of World Cities, a distinguished group of immigration experts presents the first systematic, data-based comparison of the lives of young adult children of immigrants growing up in seventeen big cities of Western Europe and the United States. Drawing on a comprehensive set of surveys, this important book brings together new evidence about the international immigrant experience and provides far-reaching lessons for devising more effective public policies. The Changing Face of World Cities pairs European and American researchers to explore how youths of immigrant origin negotiate educational systems, labor markets, gender, neighborhoods, citizenship, and identity on both sides of the Atlantic. Maurice Crul and his co-authors compare the educational trajectories of second generation Mexicans in Los Angeles with second generation Turks in Western European cities. In the U.S., uneven school quality in disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods and the high cost of college are the main barriers to educational advancement, while in some European countries, rigid early selection sorts many students off the college track and into dead-end jobs. Students who got their education in the comprehensive U.S., French, or Swedish systems are more likely to go on to college than those from the highly stratified German and Austrian systems. Liza Reisel, Laurence Lessard-Phillips, and Phil Kasinitz find that while more young members of the second generation are employed in the U.S. than in Europe, they are also likely to hold low-paying jobs that barely lift them out of poverty. In Europe, where immigrant youth suffer from higher unemployment, the embattled European welfare system still yields them a higher standard of living than many of their American counterparts. Van Tran, Susan Brown, and Jens Schneider find that the benefits of the European social welfare system extend to the quality of life in immigrant neighborhoods: second generation Turks in Berlin live in much better neighborhood conditions than do Mexicans and Dominicans in L.A. and New York. Turning to issues of identity and belonging, Jens Schneider, Leo Chávez, Louis DeSipio, and Mary Waters find that it is far easier for the children of Dominican or Mexican immigrants to identify as American, in part because the U.S. takes hyphenated identities for granted. In Europe, religious bias against Islam makes it hard for young people of Turkish origin to identify strongly as German, French, or Swedish. Editors Maurice Crul and John Mollenkopf conclude that despite the barriers these youngsters encounter on both continents, they are making real progress relative to their parents and are beginning to close the gap with the native-born. The Changing Face of World Cities goes well beyond existing immigration literature focused on the U.S. experience to show that national policies on each side of the Atlantic can be enriched by lessons from the other. The Changing Face of World Cities will be vital reading for anyone interested in the young people who will shape the future of our increasingly interconnected global economy.
Poverty declined significantly in the decade after Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 declaration of “War on Poverty.” Dramatically increased federal funding for education and training programs, social security benefits, other income support programs, and a growing economy reduced poverty and raised expectations that income poverty could be eliminated within a generation. Yet the official poverty rate has never fallen below its 1973 level and remains higher than the rates in many other advanced economies. In this book, editors Maria Cancian and Sheldon Danziger and leading poverty researchers assess why the War on Poverty was not won and analyze the most promising strategies to reduce poverty in the twenty-first century economy. Changing Poverty, Changing Policies documents how economic, social, demographic, and public policy changes since the early 1970s have altered who is poor and where antipoverty initiatives have kept pace or fallen behind. Part I shows that little progress has been made in reducing poverty, except among the elderly, in the last three decades. The chapters examine how changing labor market opportunities for less-educated workers have increased their risk of poverty (Rebecca Blank), and how family structure changes (Maria Cancian and Deborah Reed) and immigration have affected poverty (Steven Raphael and Eugene Smolensky). Part II assesses the ways childhood poverty influences adult outcomes. Markus Jäntti finds that poor American children are more likely to be poor adults than are children in many other industrialized countries. Part III focuses on current antipoverty policies and possible alternatives. Jane Waldfogel demonstrates that policies in other countries—such as sick leave, subsidized child care, and schedule flexibility—help low-wage parents better balance work and family responsibilities. Part IV considers how rethinking and redefining poverty might take antipoverty policies in new directions. Mary Jo Bane assesses the politics of poverty since the 1996 welfare reform act. Robert Haveman argues that income-based poverty measures should be expanded, as they have been in Europe, to include social exclusion and multiple dimensions of material hardships. Changing Poverty, Changing Policies shows that thoughtful policy reforms can reduce poverty and promote opportunities for poor workers and their families. The authors’ focus on pragmatic measures that have real possibilities of being implemented in the United States not only provides vital knowledge about what works but real hope for change.
Over the last forty years, the number of American households with a stay-at-home parent has dwindled as women have increasingly joined the paid workforce and more women raise children alone. Many policy makers feared these changes would come at the expense of time mothers spend with their children. In Changing Rhythms of American Family Life, sociologists Suzanne M. Bianchi, John P. Robinson, and Melissa Milkie analyze the way families spend their time and uncover surprising new findings about how Americans are balancing the demands of work and family. Using time diary data from surveys of American parents over the last four decades, Changing Rhythms of American Family Life finds that—despite increased workloads outside of the home—mothers today spend at least as much time interacting with their children as mothers did decades ago—and perhaps even more. Unexpectedly, the authors find mothers’ time at work has not resulted in an overall decline in sleep or leisure time. Rather, mothers have made time for both work and family by sacrificing time spent doing housework and by increased “multitasking.” Changing Rhythms of American Family Life finds that the total workload (in and out of the home) for employed parents is high for both sexes, with employed mothers averaging five hours more per week than employed fathers and almost nineteen hours more per week than homemaker mothers. Comparing average workloads of fathers with all mothers—both those in the paid workforce and homemakers—the authors find that there is gender equality in total workloads, as there has been since 1965. Overall, it appears that Americans have adapted to changing circumstances to ensure that they preserve their family time and provide adequately for their children. Changing Rhythms of American Family Life explodes many of the popular misconceptions about how Americans balance work and family. Though the iconic image of the American mother has changed from a docile homemaker to a frenzied, sleepless working mom, this important new volume demonstrates that the time mothers spend with their families has remained steady throughout the decades.