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Access, Persistence, and Success
The vast disparities in college attendance and graduation rates between students from different class backgrounds is a growing social concern. Economic Inequality and Higher Education investigates the connection between income inequality and unequal access to higher education, and proposes solutions that the state and federal governments and schools themselves can undertake to make college accessible to students from all backgrounds. Economic Inequality and Higher Education convenes experts from the fields of education, economics, and public policy to assess the barriers that prevent low-income students from completing college. For many students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, the challenge isn’t getting into college, but getting out with a degree. Helping this group will require improving the quality of education in the community colleges and lower-tier public universities they are most likely to attend. Documenting the extensive disjuncture between the content of state-mandated high school testing and college placement exams, Michael Kirst calls for greater alignment between K-12 and college education. Amanda Pallais and Sarah Turner examine barriers to access at elite universities for low-income students—including tuition costs, lack of information, and poor high school records—as well as recent initiatives to increase socioeconomic diversity at private and public universities. Top private universities have increased the level and transparency of financial aid, while elite public universities have focused on outreach, mentoring, and counseling, and both sets of reforms show signs of success. Ron Ehrenberg notes that financial aid policies in both public and private universities have recently shifted towards merit-based aid, away from the need-based aid that is most helpful to low-income students. Ehrenberg calls on government policy makers to create incentives for colleges to increase their representation of low-income students. Higher education is often vaunted as the primary engine of upward mobility. Instead, as inequality in America rises, colleges may be reproducing income disparities from one generation to the next. Economic Inequality and Higher Education illuminates this worrisome trend and suggests reforms that educational institutions and the government must implement to make the dream of a college degree a reality for all motivated students.
Essays on Networks, Ethnicity, and Entrepreneurship
The Economic Sociology of Immigration forges a dynamic link between the theoretical innovations of economic sociology with the latest empirical findings from immigration research, an area of critical concern as the problems of ethnic poverty and inequality become increasingly profound. Alejandro Portes' lucid overview of sociological approaches to economic phenomena provides the framework for six thoughtful, wide-ranging investigations into ethnic and immigrant labor networks and social resources, entrepreneurship, and cultural assimilation. Mark Granovetter illustrates how small businesses built on the bonds of ethnicity and kinship can, under certain conditions, flourish remarkably well. Bryan R. Roberts demonstrates how immigrant groups' expectations of the duration of their stay influence their propensity toward entrepreneurship. Ivan Light and Carolyn Rosenstein chart how specific metropolitan environments have stimulated or impeded entrepreneurial ventures in five ethnic populations. Saskia Sassen provides a revealing analysis of the unexpectedly flexible and vital labor market networks maintained between immigrants and their native countries, while M. Patricia Fernandez Kelly looks specifically at the black inner city to examine how insular cultural values hinder the acquisition of skills and jobs outside the neighborhood. Alejandro Portes also depicts the difference between the attitudes of American-born youths and those of recent immigrants and its effect on the economic success of immigrant children.
Race, Class, and the Dominican Experience in Providence
The descendents of twentieth-century southern and central European immigrants successfully assimilated into mainstream American culture and generally achieved economic parity with other Americans within several generations. So far, that is not the case with recent immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. A compelling case study of first- and second-generation Dominicans in Providence, Rhode Island, Encountering American Faultlines suggests that even as immigrants and their children increasingly participate in American life and culture, racialization and social polarization remain key obstacles to further progress. Encountering American Faultlines uses occupational and socioeconomic data and in-depth interviews to address key questions about the challenges Dominicans encounter in American society. What is their position in the American socioeconomic structure? What occupations do first- and second-generation Dominicans hold as they enter the workforce? How do Dominican families fare economically? How do Dominicans identify themselves in the American racial and ethnic landscape? The first generation works largely in what is left of Providence’s declining manufacturing industry. Second-generation Dominicans do better than their parents economically, but even as some are able to enter middle-class occupations, the majority remains in the service-sector working class. José Itzigsohn suggests that the third generation will likely continue this pattern of stratification, and he worries that the chances for further economic advancement in the next generation may be seriously in doubt. While transnational involvement is important to first-generation Dominicans, the second generation concentrates more on life in the United States and empowering their local communities. Itzigsohn ties this to the second generation’s tendency to embrace panethnic identities. Panethnic identity provides Dominicans with choices that defy strict American racial categories and enables them to build political coalitions across multiple ethnicities. This intimate study of the Dominican immigrant experience proposes an innovative theoretical approach to look at the contemporary forms and meanings of becoming American. José Itzigsohn acknowledges the social exclusion and racialization encountered by the Dominican population, but he observes that, by developing their own group identities and engaging in collective action and institution building at the local level, Dominicans can distinguish themselves and make inroads into American society. But Encountering American Faultlines also finds that hard work and hope have less to do with their social mobility than the existing economic and racial structures of U.S. society.
How Status Divides Us
The United States was founded on the principle of equal opportunity for all, and this ethos continues to inform the nation’s collective identity. In reality, however, absolute equality is elusive. The gap between rich and poor has widened in recent decades, and the United States has the highest level of economic inequality of any developed country. Social class and other differences in status reverberate throughout American life, and prejudice based on another’s perceived status persists among individuals and groups. In Envy Up, Scorn Down, noted social psychologist Susan Fiske examines the psychological underpinnings of interpersonal and intergroup comparisons, exploring why we compare ourselves to those both above and below us and analyzing the social consequences of such comparisons in day-to-day life. What motivates individuals, groups, and cultures to envy the status of some and scorn the status of others? Who experiences envy and scorn most? Envy Up, Scorn Down marshals a wealth of recent psychological studies as well as findings based on years of Fiske’s own research to address such questions. She shows that both envy and scorn have distinctive biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral characteristics. And though we are all “wired” for comparison, some individuals are more vulnerable to these motives than others. Dominant personalities, for example, express envy toward high-status groups such as the wealthy and well-educated, and insecurity can lead others to scorn those perceived to have lower status, such as women, minorities, or the disabled. Fiske shows that one’s race or ethnicity, gender, and education all correlate with perceived status. Regardless of whether one is accorded higher or lower status, however, all groups rank their members, and all societies rank the various groups within them. We rate each group as either friend or foe, able or unable, and accordingly assign them the traits of warmth or competence. The majority of groups in the United States are ranked either warm or competent but not both, with extreme exceptions: the homeless or the very poor are considered neither warm nor competent. Societies across the globe view older people as warm but incompetent. Conversely, the very rich are generally considered cold but highly competent. Envy Up, Scorn Down explores the nuances of status hierarchies and their consequences and shows that such prejudice in its most virulent form dehumanizes and can lead to devastating outcomes—from the scornful neglect of the homeless to the envious anger historically directed at Tutsis in Rwanda or Jews in Europe. Individuals, groups, and even cultures will always make comparisons between and among themselves. Envy Up, Scorn Down is an accessible and insightful examination of drives we all share and the prejudice that can accompany comparison. The book deftly shows that understanding envy and scorn—and seeking to mitigate their effects—can prove invaluable to our lives, our relationships, and our society.
The Politics of Public Health in New York
The first permanent Board of Health in the United States was created in response to a cholera outbreak in New York City in 1866. By the mid-twentieth century, thanks to landmark achievements in vaccinations, medical data collection, and community health, the NYC Department of Health had become the nation’s gold standard for public health. However, as the city’s population grew in number and diversity, the department struggled to balance its efforts between the treatment of diseases—such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and West Nile Virus—and the prevention of illness-causing factors like lead paint, heroin addiction, homelessness, smoking, and unhealthy foods. In Epidemic City, historian of public health James Colgrove chronicles the challenges faced by the health department since New York City’s mid-twentieth-century “peak” in public health provision. This insightful volume draws on archival research and oral histories to examine how the provision of public health has adapted to the competing demands of diverse public needs, public perceptions, and political pressure. Epidemic City analyzes the perspectives and efforts of the people responsible for the city’s public health from the 1960s to the present—a time that brought new challenges, such as budget and staffing shortages, and new threats like bioterrorism. Faced with controversies such as needle exchange programs and AIDS reporting, the health department struggled to maintain a delicate balance between its primary focus on illness prevention and the need to ensure public and political support for its activities. In the past decade, after the 9/11 attacks and bioterrorism scares partially diverted public health efforts from illness prevention to threat response, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden were still able to pass New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act restricting smoking and significant regulations on trans-fats used by restaurants. This legislation—preventative in nature much like the department’s original sanitary code—reflects a return to the nineteenth century roots of public health, when public health measures were often overtly paternalistic. The assertive laws conceived by Frieden and executed by Bloomberg demonstrate how far the mandate of public health can extend when backed by committed government officials. Epidemic City provides a compelling historical analysis of the individuals and groups tasked with negotiating the fine line between public health and political considerations. By examining the department’s successes and failures during the ambitious social programs of the 1960s, the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, the struggles with poverty and homelessness in the 1980s and 1990s, and in the post-9/11 era, Epidemic City shows how the NYC Department of Health has defined the role and scope of public health services for the entire nation.
The Adaptation of Cambodian and Hmong Refugees in Four American Cities
Immigration studies have increasingly focused on how immigrant adaptation to their new homelands is influenced by the social structures in the sending society, particularly its economy. Less scholarly research has focused on the ways that the cultural make-up of immigrant homelands influences their adaptation to life in a new country. In Ethnic Origins, Jeremy Hein investigates the role of religion, family, and other cultural factors on immigrant incorporation into American society by comparing the experiences of two little-known immigrant groups living in four different American cities not commonly regarded as immigrant gateways. Ethnic Origins provides an in-depth look at Hmong and Khmer refugees—people who left Asia as a result of failed U.S. foreign policy in their countries. These groups share low socio-economic status, but are vastly different in their norms, values, and histories. Hein compares their experience in two small towns—Rochester, Minnesota and Eau Claire, Wisconsin—and in two big cities—Chicago and Milwaukee—and examines how each group adjusted to these different settings. The two groups encountered both community hospitality and narrow-minded hatred in the small towns, contrasting sharply with the cold anonymity of the urban pecking order in the larger cities. Hein finds that for each group, their ethnic background was more important in shaping adaptation patterns than the place in which they settled. Hein shows how, in both the cities and towns, the Hmong’s sharply drawn ethnic boundaries and minority status in their native land left them with less affinity for U.S. citizenship or “Asian American” panethnicity than the Khmer, whose ethnic boundary is more porous. Their differing ethnic backgrounds also influenced their reactions to prejudice and discrimination. The Hmong, with a strong group identity, perceived greater social inequality and supported collective political action to redress wrongs more than the individualistic Khmer, who tended to view personal hardship as a solitary misfortune, rather than part of a larger-scale injustice. Examining two unique immigrant groups in communities where immigrants have not traditionally settled, Ethnic Origins vividly illustrates the factors that shape immigrants’ response to American society and suggests a need to refine prevailing theories of immigration. Hein’s book is at once a novel look at a little-known segment of America’s melting pot and a significant contribution to research on Asian immigration to the United States.
Korean Greengrocers in New York City
Generations of immigrants have relied on small family businesses in their pursuit of the American dream. This entrepreneurial tradition remains highly visible among Korean immigrants in New York City, who have carved out a thriving business niche for themselves operating many of the city’s small grocery stores and produce markets. But this success has come at a price, leading to dramatic, highly publicized conflicts between Koreans and other ethnic groups. In Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival, Pyong Gap Min takes Korean produce retailers as a case study to explore how involvement in ethnic businesses—especially where it collides with the economic interests of other ethnic groups—powerfully shapes the social, cultural, and economic unity of immigrant groups. Korean produce merchants, caught between white distributors, black customers, Hispanic employees, and assertive labor unions, provide a unique opportunity to study the formation of group solidarity in the face of inter-group conflicts. Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival draws on census and survey data, interviews with community leaders and merchants, and a review of ethnic newspaper articles to trace the growth and evolution of Korean collective action in response to challenges produce merchants received from both white suppliers and black customers. When Korean produce merchants first attempted to gain a foothold in the city’s economy, they encountered pervasive discrimination from white wholesale suppliers at Hunts Point Market in the Bronx. In response, Korean merchants formed the Korean Produce Association (KPA), a business organization that gradually evolved into a powerful engine for promoting Korean interests. The KPA used boycotts, pickets, and group purchasing to effect enduring improvements in supplier-merchant relations. Pyong Gap Min returns to the racially charged events surrounding black boycotts of Korean stores in the 1990s, which were fueled by frustration among African Americans at a perceived economic invasion of their neighborhoods. The Korean community responded with rallies, political negotiations, and publicity campaigns of their own. The disappearance of such disputes in recent years has been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in Korean collective action, suggesting that ethnic unity is not inevitable but rather emerges, often as a form of self-defense, under certain contentious conditions. Solidarity, Min argues, is situational. This important new book charts a novel course in immigrant research by demonstrating how business conflicts can give rise to demonstrations of group solidarity. Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival is at once a sophisticated empirical analysis and a riveting collection of stories—about immigration, race, work, and the American dream.
Forming Relationships in the Online World
There is one thing that moves online consumers to click “add to cart,” that allows sellers to accept certain forms of online payment, and that makes online product reviews meaningful: trust. Without trust, online interactions can’t advance. But how is trust among strangers established on the Internet? What role does reputation play in the formation of online trust? In eTrust, editors Karen Cook, Chris Snijders, Vincent Buskens, and Coye Cheshire explore the unmapped territory where trust, reputation, and online relationships intersect, with major implications for online commerce and social networking. eTrust uses experimental studies and field research to examine how trust in anonymous online exchanges can create or diminish cooperation between people. The first part of the volume looks at how feedback affects online auctions using trust experiments. Gary Bolton and Axel Ockenfels find that the availability of feedback leads to more trust among one-time buyers, while Davide Barrera and Vincent Buskens demonstrate that, in investment transactions, the buyer’s own experience guides decision making about future transactions with sellers. The field studies in Part II of the book examine the degree to which reputation facilitates trust in online exchanges. Andreas Diekmann, Ben Jann, and David Wyder identify a “reputation premium” in mobile phone auctions, which not only drives future transactions between buyers and sellers but also payment modes and starting bids. Chris Snijders and Jeroen Weesie shift focus to the market for online programmers, where tough competition among programmers allows buyers to shop around. The book’s third section reveals how the quality and quantity of available information influences actual marketplace participants. Sonja Utz finds that even when unforeseen accidents hinder transactions—lost packages, computer crashes—the seller is still less likely to overcome repercussions from the negative feedback of dissatisfied buyers. So much of our lives are becoming enmeshed with the Internet, where ordinary social cues and reputational networks that support trust in the real world simply don’t apply. eTrust breaks new ground by articulating the conditions under which trust can evolve and grow online, providing both theoretical and practical insights for anyone interested in how online relationships influence our decisions.
Religion and Society
By the end of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of U.S. churches were evangelical in outlook and practice. America’s turn toward modernism and embrace of science in the early twentieth century threatened evangelicalism’s cultural prominence. But as confidence in modern secularism wavered in the 1960s and 1970s, evangelicalism had another great awakening. The two volumes of Evangelicals and Democracy in America trace the development and current role of evangelicalism in American social and political life. Volume I focuses on who evangelicals are today, how they relate to other groups, and what role they play in U.S. social institutions. Part I of Religion and Society examines evangelicals’ identity and activism. Contributor Robert Wuthnow explores the identity built around the centrality of Jesus, church and community service, and the born-again experience. Philip Gorski explores the features of American evangelicalism and society that explain the recurring mobilization of conservative Protestants in American history. Part II looks at how evangelicals relate to other key groups in American society. Individual chapters delve into evangelicals’ relationship to other conservative religious groups, women and gays, African Americans, and mainline Protestants. These chapters show sources of both solidarity and dissension within the “traditionalist alliance” and the hidden strengths of mainline Protestants’ moral discourse. Part III examines religious conservatives’ influence on American social institutions outside of politics. W. Bradford Wilcox, David Sikkink, Gabriel Rossman, and Rogers Smith investigate evangelicals’ influence on families, schools, popular culture, and the courts, respectively. What emerges is a picture of American society as a consumer marketplace with a secular legal structure and an arena of pluralistic competition interpreting what constitutes the public good. These chapters show that religious conservatives have been shaped by these realities more than they have been able to shape them. Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume I is one of the most comprehensive examinations ever of this important current in American life and serves as a corrective to erroneous popular representations. These meticulously balanced studies not only clarify the religious and social origins of evangelical mobilization, but also detail both the scope and limits of evangelicals’ influence in our society. This volume is the perfect complement to its companion in this landmark series, Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume II: Religion and Politics.
Religion and Politics
Separation of church and state is a bedrock principal of American democracy, and so, too, is active citizen engagement. Since evangelicals comprise one of the largest and most vocal voting blocs in the United States, tensions and questions naturally arise. In the two-volume Evangelicals and Democracy in America, editors Steven Brint and Jean Reith Schroedel have assembled an authoritative collection of studies of the evangelical movement in America. Religion and Politics, the second volume of the set, focuses on the role of religious conservatives in party politics, the rhetoric evangelicals use to mobilize politically, and what the history of the evangelical movement reveals about where it may be going. Part I of Religion and Politics explores the role of evangelicals in electoral politics. Contributor Pippa Norris looks at evangelicals around the globe and finds that religiosity is a strong predictor of ideological leanings in industrialized countries. But the United States remains one of only a handful of post-industrial societies where religion plays a significant role in partisan politics. Other chapters look at voting trends, especially the growing number of higher-income evangelicals among Republican ranks, how voting is influenced both by “values” and race, and the management of the symbols and networks behind the electoral system of moral-values politics. Part II of the volume focuses on the mobilizing rhetoric of the Christian Right. Nathaniel Klemp and Stephen Macedo show how the rhetorical strategies of the Christian Right create powerful mobilizing narratives, but frequently fail to build broad enough coalitions to prevail in the pluralistic marketplace of ideas. Part III analyzes the cycles and evolution of the Christian Right. Kimberly Conger looks at the specific circumstances that have allowed evangelicals to become dominant in some Republican state party committees but not in others. D. Michael Lindsay examines the “elastic orthodoxy” that has allowed evangelicals to evolve into a formidable social and political force. The final chapter by Clyde Wilcox presents a new framework for understanding the relationship between the Christian Right and the GOP based on the ecological metaphor of co-evolution. With its companion volume on religion and society, this second volume of Evangelicals and Democracy in America offers the most complete examination yet of the social circumstances and political influence of the millions of Americans who are white evangelical Protestants. Understanding their history and prospects for the future is essential to forming a comprehensive picture of America today.