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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.
Residential Segregation and the Search for a Good School
A series of policy shifts over the past decade promises to change how Americans decide where to send their children to school. In theory, the boom in standardized test scores and charter schools will allow parents to evaluate their assigned neighborhood school, or move in search of a better option. But what kind of data do parents actually use while choosing schools? Are there differences among suburban and urban families? How do parents’ choices influence school and residential segregation in America? Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools presents a breakthrough analysis of the new era of school choice, and what it portends for American neighborhoods. The distinguished contributors to Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools investigate the complex relationship between education, neighborhood social networks, and larger patterns of inequality. Paul Jargowsky reviews recent trends in segregation by race and class. His analysis shows that segregation between blacks and whites has declined since 1970, but remains extremely high. Moreover, white families with children are less likely than childless whites to live in neighborhoods with more minority residents. In her chapter, Annette Lareau draws on interviews with parents in three suburban neighborhoods to analyze school-choice decisions. Surprisingly, she finds that middle- and upper-class parents do not rely on active research, such as school tours or test scores. Instead, most simply trust advice from friends and other people in their network. Their decision-making process was largely informal and passive. Eliot Weinginer complements this research when he draws from his data on urban parents. He finds that these families worry endlessly about the selection of a school, and that parents of all backgrounds actively consider alternatives, including charter schools. Middle- and upper-class parents relied more on federally mandated report cards, district websites, and online forums, while working-class parents use network contacts to gain information on school quality. Little previous research has explored what role school concerns play in the preferences of white and minority parents for particular neighborhoods. Featuring innovative work from more than a dozen scholars, Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools adroitly addresses this gap and provides a firmer understanding of how Americans choose where to live and send their children to school.
Arab Detroit After 9/11
Is citizenship simply a legal status or does it describe a sense of belonging to a national community? For Arab Americans, these questions took on new urgency after 9/11, as the cultural prejudices that have often marginalized their community came to a head. Citizenship and Crisis reveals that, despite an ever-shifting definition of citizenship and the ease with which it can be questioned in times of national crisis, the Arab communities of metropolitan Detroit continue to thrive. A groundbreaking study of social life, religious practice, cultural values, and political views among Detroit Arabs after 9/11, Citizenship and Crisis argues that contemporary Arab American citizenship and identity have been shaped by the chronic tension between social inclusion and exclusion that has been central to this population’s experience in America. According to the landmark Detroit Arab American Study, which surveyed more than 1,000 Arab Americans and is the focus of this book, Arabs express pride in being American at rates higher than the general population. In nine wide-ranging essays, the authors of Citizenship and Crisis argue that the 9/11 backlash did not substantially transform the Arab community in Detroit, nor did it alter the identities that prevail there. The city’s Arabs are now receiving more mainstream institutional, educational, and political support than ever before, but they remain a constituency defined as essentially foreign. The authors explore the role of religion in cultural integration and identity formation, showing that Arab Muslims feel more alienated from the mainstream than Arab Christians do. Arab Americans adhere more strongly to traditional values than do other Detroit residents, regardless of religion. Active participants in the religious and cultural life of the Arab American community attain higher levels of education and income, yet assimilation to the American mainstream remains important for achieving enduring social and political gains. The contradictions and dangers of being Arab and American are keenly felt in Detroit, but even when Arab Americans oppose U.S. policies, they express more confidence in U.S. institutions than do non-Arabs in the general population. The Arabs of greater Detroit, whether native-born, naturalized, or permanent residents, are part of a political and historical landscape that limits how, when, and to what extent they can call themselves American. When analyzed against this complex backdrop, the results of The Detroit Arab American Study demonstrate that the pervasive notion in American society that Arabs are not like “us” is simply inaccurate. Citizenship and Crisis makes a rigorous and impassioned argument for putting to rest this exhausted cultural and political stereotype.
Immigrants, Community Organizations, and Political Engagement
For many Americans, participation in community organizations lays the groundwork for future political engagement. But how does this traditional model of civic life relate to the experiences of today’s immigrants? Do community organizations help immigrants gain political influence in their neighborhoods and cities? In Civic Hopes and Political Realities, experts from a wide range of disciplines explore the way civic groups across the country and around the world are shaping immigrants’ quest for political effectiveness. Civic Hopes and Political Realities shows that while immigrant organizations play an important role in the lives of members, their impact is often compromised by political marginalization and a severe lack of resources. S. Karthick Ramakrishnan and Irene Bloemraad examine community organizations in six cities in California and find that even in areas with high rates of immigrant organizing, policymakers remain unaware of local ethnic organizations. Looking at new immigrant destinations, Kristi Andersen finds that community organizations often serve as the primary vehicle for political incorporation—a role once played by the major political parties. Floris Vermeulen and Maria Berger show how policies in two European cities lead to very different outcomes for ethnic organizations. Amsterdam’s more welcoming multicultural policies help immigrant community groups attain a level of political clout that similar organizations in Berlin lack. Janelle Wong, Kathy Rim, and Haven Perez report on a study of Latino and Asian American evangelical churches. While the church shapes members’ political views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, church members may also question the evangelical movement’s position on such issues as civil rights and immigration. Els de Graauw finds that many non-profit organizations without explicitly political agendas nonetheless play a crucial role in advancing the political interests of their immigrant members. Recent cuts in funding for such organizations, she argues, block not only the provision of key social services, but also an important avenue for political voice. Looking at community organizing in a suburban community, Sofya Aptekar finds that even when immigrant organizations have considerable resources and highly educated members, they tend to be excluded from town politics. Some observers worry that America’s increasing diversity is detrimental to civic life and political engagement. Civic Hopes and Political Realities boldly advances an alternative understanding of the ways in which immigrants are enriching America’s civic and political realms—even in the face of often challenging circumstances.
Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action
Ethnically homogenous communities often do a better job than diverse communities of producing public goods such as satisfactory schools and health care, adequate sanitation, and low levels of crime. Coethnicity reports the results of a landmark study that aimed to find out why diversity has this cooperation-undermining effect. The study, conducted in a neighborhood of Kampala, Uganda, notable for both its high levels of diversity and low levels of public goods provision, hones in on the mechanisms that might account for the difficulties diverse societies often face in trying to act collectively. The Mulago-Kyebando Community Study uses behavioral games to explore how the ethnicity of the person with whom one is interacting shapes social behavior. Hundreds of local participants interacted with various partners in laboratory games simulating real-life decisions involving the allocation of money and the completion of joint tasks. Many of the subsequent findings debunk long-standing explanations for diversity’s adverse effects. Contrary to the prevalent notion that shared preferences facilitate ethnic collective action, differences in goals and priorities among participants were not found to be structured along ethnic lines. Nor was there evidence that subjects favored the welfare of their coethnics over that of non-coethnics. When given the opportunity to act altruistically, individuals did not choose to benefit coethnics disproportionately when their actions were anonymous. Yet when anonymity was removed, subjects behaved very differently. With their actions publicly observed, subjects gave significantly more to coethnics, expected their partners to reciprocate, and expected that they would be sanctioned for a failure to cooperate. This effect was most pronounced among individuals who were otherwise least likely to cooperate. These results suggest that what may look like ethnic favoritism is, in fact, a set of reciprocity norms—stronger among coethnics than among non-coethnics—that make it possible for members of more homogeneous communities to take risks, invest, and cooperate without the fear of getting cheated. Such norms may be more subject to change than deeply held ethnic antipathies—a powerful finding for policymakers seeking to design social institutions in diverse societies. Research on ethnic diversity typically draws on either experimental research or field work. Coethnicity does both. By taking the crucial step from observation to experimentation, this study marks a major breakthrough in the study of ethnic diversity.
Talking (and Not Talking) About Race at Work
Since the 1960s, the dominant model for fostering diversity and inclusion in the United States has been the “color blind” approach, which emphasizes similarity and assimilation and insists that people should be understood as individuals, not as members of racial or cultural groups. This approach is especially prevalent in the workplace, where discussions about race and ethnicity are considered taboo. Yet, as widespread as “color blindness” has become, many studies show that the practice has damaging repercussions, including reinforcing the existing racial hierarchy by ignoring the significance of racism and discrimination. In The Color Bind, workplace experts Erica Foldy and Tamara Buckley investigate race relations in office settings, looking at how both color blindness and what they call “color cognizance” have profound effects on the ways coworkers think and interact with each other.
Based on an intensive two-and-a-half-year study of employees at a child welfare agency, The Color Bind shows how color cognizance—the practice of recognizing the profound impact of race and ethnicity on life experiences while affirming the importance of racial diversity—can help workers move beyond silence on the issue of race toward more inclusive workplace practices. Drawing from existing psychological and sociological research that demonstrates the success of color-cognizant approaches in dyads, workgroups and organizations, Foldy and Buckley analyzed the behavior of work teams within a child protection agency. The behaviors of three teams in particular reveal the factors that enable color cognizance to flourish. While two of the teams largely avoided explicitly discussing race, one group, “Team North,” openly talked about race and ethnicity in team meetings. By acknowledging these differences when discussing how to work with their clients and with each other, the members of Team North were able to dig into challenges related to race and culture instead of avoiding them. The key to achieving color cognizance within the group was twofold: It required both the presence of at least a few members who were already color cognizant, as well as an environment in which all team members felt relatively safe and behaved in ways that strengthened learning, including productively resolving conflict and reflecting on their practice.
The Color Bind provides a useful lens for policy makers, researchers and practitioners pursuing in a wide variety of goals, from addressing racial disparities in health and education to creating diverse and inclusive organizations to providing culturally competent services to clients and customers. By foregrounding open conversations about race and ethnicity, Foldy and Buckley show that institutions can transcend the color bind in order to better acknowledge and reflect the diverse populations they serve.
Race, Immigration, and Wealth Stratification in America
The growing number of immigrants living and working in America has become a controversial topic from classrooms to corporations and from kitchen tables to Capitol Hill. Many native-born Americans fear that competition from new arrivals will undermine the economic standing of low-skilled American workers, and that immigrants may not successfully integrate into the U.S. economy. In Color Lines, Country Lines, sociologist Lingxin Hao argues that the current influx of immigrants is changing America’s class structure, but not in the ways commonly believed. Drawing on 20 years of national survey data, Color Lines, Country Lines investigates how immigrants are faring as they try to accumulate enough wealth to join the American middle class, and how, in the process, they are transforming historic links between race and socioeconomic status. Hao finds that disparities in wealth among immigrants are large and growing, including disparities among immigrants of the same race or ethnicity. Cuban immigrants have made substantially more progress than arrivals from the Dominican Republic, Chinese immigrants have had more success than Vietnamese or Korean immigrants, and Jamaicans have fared better than Haitians and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, many of these immigrant groups have acquired more wealth than native-born Americans of the same race or ethnicity. Hao traces these diverging paths to differences in the political and educational systems of the immigrants’ home countries, as well as to preferential treatment of some groups by U.S. immigration authorities and the U.S. labor market. As a result, individuals’ country of origin increasingly matters more than their race in determining their prospects for acquiring wealth. In a novel analysis, Hao predicts that as large numbers of immigrants arrive in the U.S. every year, the variation in wealth within racial groups will continue to grow, reducing wealth inequalities between racial groups. If upward mobility remains restricted to only some groups, then the old divisions of wealth by race will gradually become secondary to new disparities based on country of origin. However, if the labor market and the government are receptive to all immigrant groups, then the assimilation of immigrants into the middle class will help diminish wealth inequality in society as a whole. Immigrants’ assimilation into the American mainstream and the impact of immigration on the American economy are inextricably linked, and each issue can only be understood in light of the other. Color Lines, Country Lines shows why some immigrant groups are struggling to get by while others have managed to achieve the American dream and reveals the surprising ways in which immigration is reshaping American society.
Why Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist
Given the increasing diversity of the nation—particularly with respect to its growing Hispanic and Asian populations—why does racial and ethnic difference so often lead to disadvantage? In The Colors of Poverty, a multidisciplinary group of experts provides a breakthrough analysis of the complex mechanisms that connect poverty and race.The Colors of Poverty reframes the debate over the causes of minority poverty by emphasizing the cumulative effects of disadvantage in perpetuating poverty across generations. The contributors consider a kaleidoscope of factors that contribute to widening racial gaps, including education, racial discrimination, social capital, immigration, and incarceration. Michèle Lamont and Mario Small grapple with the theoretical ambiguities of existing cultural explanations for poverty disparities. They argue that culture and structure are not competing explanations for poverty, but rather collaborate to produce disparities. Looking at how attitudes and beliefs exacerbate racial stratification, social psychologist Heather Bullock links the rise of inequality in the United States to an increase in public tolerance for disparity. She suggests that the American ethos of rugged individualism and meritocracy erodes support for antipoverty programs and reinforces the belief that people are responsible for their own poverty. Sociologists Darren Wheelock and Christopher Uggen focus on the collateral consequences of incarceration in exacerbating racial disparities and are the first to propose a link between legislation that blocks former drug felons from obtaining federal aid for higher education and the black/white educational attainment gap. Joe Soss and Sanford Schram argue that the increasingly decentralized and discretionary nature of state welfare programs allows for different treatment of racial groups, even when such policies are touted as “race-neutral.” They find that states with more blacks and Hispanics on welfare rolls are consistently more likely to impose lifetime limits, caps on benefits for mothers with children, and stricter sanctions. The Colors of Poverty is a comprehensive and evocative introduction to the dynamics of race and inequality. The research in this landmark volume moves scholarship on inequality beyond a simple black-white paradigm, beyond the search for a single cause of poverty, and beyond the promise of one “magic bullet” solution.
American Schools and the Civic Development of Immigrant Youth
As one of the fastest-growing segments of the American population, the children of immigrants are poised to reshape the country’s political future. The massive rallies for immigration rights in 2006 and the recent push for the DREAM Act, both heavily supported by immigrant youth, signal the growing political potential of this crucial group. While many studies have explored the political participation of immigrant adults, we know comparatively little about what influences civic participation among the children of immigrants. Coming of Political Age persuasively argues that schools play a central role in integrating immigrant youth into the political system. The volume shows that the choices we make now in our educational system will have major consequences for the country’s civic health as the children of immigrants grow and mature as citizens. Coming of Political Age draws from an impressive range of data, including two large surveys of adolescents in high schools and interviews with teachers and students, to provide an insightful analysis of trends in youth participation in politics. Although the children of both immigrant and native-born parents register and vote at similar rates, the factors associated with this likelihood are very different. While parental educational levels largely explain voting behavior among children of native-born parents, this volume demonstrates that immigrant children’s own education, in particular their exposure to social studies, strongly predicts their future political participation. Learning more about civic society and putting effort into these classes may encourage an interest in politics, suggesting that the high school civics curriculum remains highly relevant in an increasingly disconnected society. Interestingly, although their schooling predicts whether children of immigrants will vote, how they identify politically depends more on family and community influences. As budget cuts force school administrators to realign academic priorities, this volume argues that any cutback to social science programs may effectively curtail the political and civic engagement of the next generation of voters. While much of the literature on immigrant assimilation focuses on family and community, Coming of Political Age argues that schools—and social science courses in particular—may be central to preparing the leaders of tomorrow. The insights and conclusions presented in this volume are essential to understand how we can encourage more participation in civic action and improve the functioning of our political system.