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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.
The legal institutions of overt racism in the United States have been eliminated, but social surveys and investigations of social institutions confirm the continuing significance of race and the enduring presence of negative racial attitudes. This shift from codified and explicit racism to more subtle forms comes at a time when the very boundaries of race and ethnicity are being reshaped by immigration and a rising recognition that old systems of racial classification inadequately capture a diverse America. In The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity, editors Maria Krysan and Amanda Lewis bring together leading scholars of racial dynamics to study the evolution of America’s racial problem and its consequences for race relations in the future. The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity opens by attempting to answer a puzzling question: how is it that so many whites think racism is no longer a problem but so many nonwhites disagree? Sociologist Lawrence Bobo contends that whites exhibit what he calls “laissez faire racism,” which ignores historical and structural contributions to racial inequality and does nothing to remedy the injustices of the status quo. Tyrone Forman makes a similar case in his chapter, contending that an emphasis on “color blindness” allows whites to be comforted by the idea that all races are on a level playing field, while not recognizing the advantages they themselves have reaped from years of inequality. The book then moves to a discussion of the new ways that Americans view race. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Karen Glover argue that the United States is moving from a black-white divide to a tripartite system, where certain light-skinned, non-threatening minority groups are considered “honorary whites.” The book’s final section reexamines the theoretical underpinnings of scholarship on race and ethnicity. Joe Feagin argues that research on racism focuses too heavily on how racial boundaries are formed and needs to concentrate more on how those boundaries are used to maintain privileges for certain groups at the expense of others. Manning Marable contends that racism should be addressed at an institutional level to see the prevalence of “structural racism”—deeply entrenched patterns of inequality that are coded by race and justified by stereotypes. The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity provides an in-depth view of racism in modern America, which may be less conspicuous but not necessarily less destructive than its predecessor, Jim Crow. The book’s rich analysis and theoretical insight shed light on how, despite many efforts to end America’s historic racial problem, it has evolved and persisted into the 21st century.
Immigrant Parent and Teacher Perspectives on Preschool for Children of Immigrants
In many school districts in America, the majority of students in preschools are children of recent immigrants. For both immigrant families and educators, the changing composition of preschool classes presents new and sometimes divisive questions about educational instruction, cultural norms and academic priorities. Drawing from an innovative study of preschools across the nation, Children Crossing Borders provides the first systematic comparison of the beliefs and perspectives of immigrant parents and the preschool teachers to whom they entrust their children.
Many of our most urgent national problems suggest a widespread lack of concern for the future. Alarming economic conditions, such as low national savings rates, declining corporate investment in long-term capital projects, and ballooning private and public debt are matched by such social ills as diminished educational achievement, environmental degradation, and high rates of infant mortality, crime, and teenage pregnancy. At the heart of all these troubles lies an important behavioral phenomenon: in the role of consumer, manager, voter, student, or parent, many Americans choose inferior but immediate rewards over greater long-term benefits. Choice Over Time offers a rich sampling of original research on intertemporal choice—how and why people decide between immediate and delayed consequences—from a broad range of theoretical and methodological perspectives in philosophy, political science, psychology, and economics. George Loewenstein, Jon Elster, and their distinguished colleagues review existing theories and forge new approaches to understanding significant questions: Why do people seem to "discount" future benefits? Do individuals use the same decision-making strategy in all aspects of their lives? What part is played by situational factors such as the certainty of delayed consequences? How are decisions affected by personal factors such as willpower and taste? In addressing these issues, the contributors to Choice Over Time address many social, economic, psychological, and personal time problems. Their work demonstrates the predictive power of short-term preferences in behavior as varied as addiction and phobia, the effect of prices on consumption, and the dramatic rise in debt and decline in savings. Choice Over Time provides an essential source for the most recent research and theory on intertemporal choice, offering new models for time preference patterns—and their aberrations—and presenting a diversity of potential solutions to the problem of "temporal myopia."
Korean Adoptees in America
Transnational adoption was once a rarity in the United States, but Americans have been choosing to adopt children from abroad with increasing frequency since the mid-twentieth century. Korean adoptees make up the largest share of international adoptions—25 percent of all children adopted from outside the United States—but they remain understudied among Asian American groups. What kind of identities do adoptees develop as members of American families and in a cultural climate that often views them as foreigners? Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race is the only study of this unique population to collect in-depth interviews with a multigenerational, random sample of adult Korean adoptees. The book examines how Korean adoptees form their social identities and compares them to native-born Asian Americans who are not adopted. How do American stereotypes influence the ways Korean adoptees identify themselves? Does the need to explore a Korean cultural identity—or the absence of this need—shift according to life stage or circumstance? In Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race, sixty-one adult Korean adoptees—representing different genders, social classes, and communities—reflect on early childhood, young adulthood, their current lives, and how they experience others’ perceptions of them. The authors find that most adoptees do not identify themselves strongly in ethnic terms, although they will at times identify as Korean or Asian American in order to deflect questions from outsiders about their cultural backgrounds. Indeed, Korean adoptees are far less likely than their non-adopted Asian American peers to explore their ethnic backgrounds by joining ethnic organizations or social networks. Adoptees who do not explore their ethnic identity early in life are less likely ever to do so—citing such causes as general aversion, lack of opportunity, or the personal insignificance of race, ethnicity, and adoption in their lives. Nonetheless, the choice of many adoptees not to identify as Korean or Asian American does not diminish the salience of racial stereotypes in their lives. Korean adoptees must continually navigate society’s assumptions about Asian Americans regardless of whether they chose to identify ethnically. Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race is a crucial examination of this little-studied American population and will make informative reading for adoptive families, adoption agencies, and policymakers. The authors demonstrate that while race is a social construct, its influence on daily life is real. This book provides an insightful analysis of how potent this influence can be—for transnational adoptees and all Americans.