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The Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities

The Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities

Social scientists have repeatedly uncovered a disturbing feature of economic inequality: people with larger incomes and better education tend to lead longer, healthier lives. This pattern holds across all ages and for virtually all measures of health, apparently indicating a biological dimension of inequality. But scholars have only begun to understand the complex mechanisms that drive this disparity. How exactly do financial well-being and human physiology interact? The Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities incorporates insights from the social and biological sciences to quantify the biology of disadvantage and to assess how poverty gets under the skin to impact health. Drawing from unusually rich datasets of biomarkers, brain scans and socioeconomic measures, Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities illustrates exciting new paths to understanding social inequalities in health. Barbara Wolfe, William Evans and Nancy Adler begin the volume with a critical evaluation of the literature on income and health, providing a lucid review of the difficulties of establishing clear causal pathways between the two variables. Arun S. Karlamangla, Tara L. Gruenewald, and Teresa E. Seeman outline the potential of biomarkers—such as cholesterol, heart pressure and C-reactive protein—to assess and indicate the factors underlying health. Edith Chen, Hanna M. C. Schreier, and Meanne Chan reveal the empirical power of biomarkers by examining asthma, a condition steeply correlated with socioeconomic status. Their analysis shows how stress at the individual, family, and neighborhood levels can increase the incidence of asthma. The volume then turns to cognitive neuroscience, using biomarkers in a new way to examine the impact of poverty on brain development. Jamie Hanson, Nicole Hair, Amitabh Chandra, Ed Moss, Jay Bhattacharya, Seth Pollack, and Barbara Wolfe use a longitudinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) study of children between the ages of four and eighteen to study the link between poverty and limited cognition among children. Michelle C. Carlson, Christopher L. Seplaki, and Teresa E. Seeman also focus on brain development to examine the role of socioeconomic status in cognitive decline among older adults. The authors report promising results from programs designed to improve cognitive function among the elderly poor by increasing physical activity and social engagement. Featuring insights from the biological and social sciences, Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequalities will be an essential resource for scholars interested in socioeconomic disparities and the biological imprint that material deprivation leaves on the human body.

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Black Elected Officials

Study of Black Americans Holding Government Office

Presents the first nationwide profile of black Americans (over 3,500) who now hold elective governmental office. The book is based upon a questionnaire survey of black elected officials together with a comparison survey of white men and women elected to similar types of offices in the same geographical region. The inclusion of extensive quotations from interviews with thirty-four black elected officials adds realism, depth, and insight to the quantitative analysis. The authors interrelate fresh and meaningful information on the political ideologies and motivations of black officials, their perceived political impacts, and expectations for the future.

Presents the first nationwide profile of black Americans (over 3,500) who now hold elective governmental office. The book is based upon a questionnaire survey of black elected officials together with a comparison survey of white men and women elected to similar types of offices in the same geographical region. The inclusion of extensive quotations from interviews with thirty-four black elected officials adds realism, depth, and insight to the quantitative analysis. The authors interrelate fresh and meaningful information on the political ideologies and motivations of black officials, their perceived political impacts, and expectations for the future.

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Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society

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.

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The Boston Renaissance

Race, Space, and Economic Change in an American Metropolis

This volume documents metropolitan Boston's metamorphosis from a casualty of manufacturing decline in the 1970s to a paragon of the high-tech and service industries in the 1990s. The city's rebound has been part of a wider regional renaissance, as new commercial centers have sprung up outside the city limits. A stream of immigrants have flowed into the area, redrawing the map of ethnic relations in the city. While Boston's vaunted mind-based economy rewards the highly educated, many unskilled workers have also found opportunities servicing the city's growing health and education industries.

Boston's renaissance remains uneven, and the authors identify a variety of handicaps (low education, unstable employment, single parenthood) that still hold minorities back. Nonetheless this book presents Boston as a hopeful example of how America's older cities can reinvent themselves in the wake of suburbanization and deindustrialization.

A Volume in the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality

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Bridging the Gaps

College Pathways to Career Success

College-for-all has become the new American dream. Most high school students today express a desire to attend college, and 90% of on-time high school graduates enroll in higher education in the eight years following high school. Yet, degree completion rates remain low for non-traditional students—students who are older, low-income, or have poor academic achievement—even at community colleges that endeavor to serve them. What can colleges do to reduce dropouts? In Bridging the Gaps, education scholars James Rosenbaum, Caitlin Ahearn, and Janet Rosenbaum argue that when institutions focus only on bachelor’s degrees and traditional college procedures, they ignore other pathways to educational and career success. Using multiple longitudinal studies, the authors evaluate the shortcomings and successes of community colleges and investigate how these institutions can promote alternatives to BAs and traditional college procedures to increase graduation rates and improve job payoffs.
 
The authors find that sub-baccalaureate credentials—associate degrees and college certificates—can improve employment outcomes. Young adults who complete these credentials have higher employment rates, earnings, autonomy, career opportunities, and job satisfaction than those who enroll but do not complete credentials. Sub-BA credentials can be completed at community college in less time than bachelor’s degrees, making them an affordable option for many low-income students.
 
Bridging the Gaps shows that when community colleges overemphasize bachelor’s degrees, they tend to funnel resources into remedial programs, and try to get low-performing students on track for a BA. Yet, remedial programs have inconsistent success rates and can create unrealistic expectations, leading struggling students to drop out before completing any degree. The authors show that colleges can devise procedures that reduce remedial placements and help students discover unseen abilities, attain valued credentials, get good jobs, and progress on degree ladders to higher credentials.
 
To turn college-for-all into a reality, community college students must be aware of their multiple credential and career options. Bridging the Gaps shows how colleges can create new pathways for non-traditional students to achieve success in their schooling and careers.
 

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Britain's War on Poverty

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.

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The Broken Table

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.

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Brokered Boundaries

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.

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Budapest and New York

Studies in Metropolitan Transformation, 1870-1930

Little over a century ago, New York and Budapest were both flourishing cities engaging in spectacular modernization. By 1930, New York had emerged as an innovating cosmopolitan metropolis, while Budapest languished under the conditions that would foster fascism. Budapest and New York explores the increasingly divergent trajectories of these once-similar cities through the perspectives of both Hungarian and American experts in the fields of political, cultural, social and art history. Their original essays illuminate key aspects of urban life that most reveal the turn-of-the-century evolution of New York and Budapest: democratic participation, use of public space, neighborhood ethnicity, and culture high and low.

What comes across most strikingly in these essays is New York's cultivation of social and political pluralism, a trend not found in Budapest. Nationalist ideology exerted tremendous pressure on Budapest's ethnic groups to assimilate to a single Hungarian language and culture. In contrast, New York's ethnic diversity was transmitted through a mass culture that celebrated ethnicity while muting distinct ethnic traditions, making them accessible to a national audience. While Budapest succumbed to the patriotic imperatives of a nation threatened by war, revolution, and fascism, New York, free from such pressures, embraced the variety of its people and transformed its urban ethos into a paradigm for America.

Budapest and New York is the lively story of the making of metropolitan culture in Europe and America, and of the influential relationship between city and nation. In unifying essays, the editors observe comparisons not only between the cities, but in the scholarly outlooks and methodologies of Hungarian and American histories. This volume is a unique urban history. Begun under the unfavorable conditions of a divided world, it represents a breakthrough in cross-cultural, transnational, and interdisciplinary historical work.

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C-Unit

Search for Community in Prison

One of the most detailed reports ever made on an effort to establish a therapeutic community within a California prison. This work describes how the program was launched, gives a number of examples of its operation, and outlines the new problems and prospects created for inmates, staff, and the broader prison administration by this attempt to redefine the roles within the prison.

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