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Russell Sage Foundation

Russell Sage Foundation

Website: http://www.russellsage.org/

The Russell Sage Foundation is the principal American foundation devoted exclusively to research in the social sciences. Located in New York City, it is a research center, a funding source for studies by scholars at other academic and research institutions, and an active member of the nation's social science community. The foundation also publishes, under its own imprint, the books that derive from the work of its grantees and visiting scholars.


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Russell Sage Foundation

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Contemporary Marriage

This fascinating symposium is based on an assumption that no longer seems to need justification: that the institution of marriage is today experiencing profound changes. But the nature of those changes—their causes and consequences—is very much in need of explication. The experts contributing to this volume bring a wide range of perspectives—sociological, anthropological, economic, historical, psychological, and legal—to the problem of marriage in modern society. Together these essays help illuminate a form of relationship that is both vulnerable and resilient, biological and social, a reflection of and an influence on other social institutions.

Contemporary Marriage begins with an important assessment of the revolution in marital behavior since World War II, tracing trends in marriage age, cohabitation, divorce, and fertility. The focus here is primarily on the United States and on idustrial societies in general. Later chapters provide intriguing case studies of particular countries. There is a recurrent interest in the impact on marriage of modernization itself, but a number of essays probe influences other than industrial development, such as strong cultural and historical patterns or legislation and state control. Beliefs and expectations about marriage are explored, and human sexuality and gender roles are also considered as factors in the nature of marriage.

Contemporary Marriage offers a rich spectrum of approaches to a problem of central importance. The volume will reward an equally broad spectrum of readers interested in the meaning and future of marriage in our society.

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Contentious City

The Politics of Recovery in New York City

Few public projects have ever dealt with economic and emotional issues as large as those surrounding the rebuilding of lower Manhattan following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Picking up the pieces involved substantial challenges: deciding how to memorialize one of America's greatest tragedies, how to balance the legal claim of landowners against the moral claim of survivors who want a say in the future of Ground Zero, and how to rebuild the Trade Center site while preserving the sacredness and solemnity that Americans now attribute to the area. All the while, the governor, the mayor, the Port Authority, and the leaseholder competed with one another to advance their own interests and visions of the redevelopment, while at least leaving the impression that the decisions were the public's to make. In Contentious City, editor John Mollenkopf and a team of leading scholars analyze the wide-ranging political dimensions of the recovery process.

Contentious City takes an in-depth look at the competing interests and demands of the numerous stakeholders who have sought to influence the direction of the recovery process. Lynne Sagalyn addresses the complicated institutional politics behind the rebuilding, which involve a newly formed development commission seeking legitimacy, a two-state transportation agency whose brief venture into land ownership puts it in control of the world's most famous 16 acres of land, and a private business group whose affiliation with the World Trade Center places it squarely in a fight for billions of dollars in insurance funds. Arielle Goldberg profiles five civic associations that sprouted up to voice public opinion about the redevelopment process. While the groups did not gain much leverage over policy outcomes, Goldberg argues that they were influential in steering the agenda of decision-makers and establishing what values would be prioritized in the development plans. James Young, a member of the jury that selected the design for the World Trade Center site memorial, discusses the challenge of trying to simultaneously memorialize a tragic event, while helping those who suffered find renewal and move on with their lives. Editor John Mollenkopf contributes a chapter on how the September 11 terrorist attacks altered the course of politics in New York, and how politicians at the city and state level adapted to the new political climate after 9/11 to win elected office.

Moving forward after the destruction of the Twin Towers was a daunting task, made more difficult by the numerous competing claims on the site, and the varied opinions on how it should be used in the future. Contentious City brings together the voices surrounding this intense debate, and helps make sense of the rival interests vying for control over one of the most controversial urban development programs in history.

A Russell Sage Foundation September 11 Initiative Volume

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Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities

Social Categories, Social Identities, and Educational Participation

Since the end of legal segregation in schools, most research on educational inequality has focused on economic and other structural obstacles to the academic achievement of disadvantaged groups. But in Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities, a distinguished group of psychologists and social scientists argue that stereotypes about the academic potential of some minority groups remain a significant barrier to their achievement. This groundbreaking volume examines how low institutional and cultural expectations of minorities hinder their academic success, how these stereotypes are perpetuated, and the ways that minority students attempt to empower themselves by redefining their identities. The contributors to Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities explore issues of ethnic identity and educational inequality from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, drawing on historical analyses, social-psychological experiments, interviews, and observation. Meagan Patterson and Rebecca Bigler show that when teachers label or segregate students according to social categories (even in subtle ways), students are more likely to rank and stereotype one another, so educators must pay attention to the implicit or unintentional ways that they emphasize group differences. Many of the contributors contest John Ogbu’s theory that African Americans have developed an “oppositional culture” that devalues academic effort as a form of “acting white.” Daphna Oyserman and Daniel Brickman, in their study of black and Latino youth, find evidence that strong identification with their ethnic group is actually associated with higher academic motivation among minority youth. Yet, as Julie Garcia and Jennifer Crocker find in a study of African-American female college students, the desire to disprove negative stereotypes about race and gender can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and excessive, self-defeating levels of effort, which impede learning and academic success. The authors call for educational institutions to diffuse these threats to minority students’ identities by emphasizing that intelligence is a malleable rather than a fixed trait. Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities reveals the many hidden ways that educational opportunities are denied to some social groups. At the same time, this probing and wide-ranging anthology provides a fresh perspective on the creative ways that these groups challenge stereotypes and attempt to participate fully in the educational system.

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Controversies and Decisions

The Social Sciences and Public Policy

Explores the various aspects of recent debates over the independence of the social sciences. The contributors are Kenneth E. Boulding, Harvey Brooks, Jonathan R. Cole, Stephen Cole, Lee J. Cronbach, Paul Doty, Yaron Ezrahi, Charles Frankel, H. Field Haviland, Hugh Hawkins, Harry G. Johnson, Robert Nisbet, Nicholas Rescher, Edward Shils, and Adam Yarmolinksy. The essays deal with such topics as the relation of "values" to "facts" in social science inquiry; the interplay of theoretical and practical considerations; the moral obligations of social science investigators in political contexts; and the ways and means of protecting and advancing the autonomy of the social sciences.

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Cooperation Without Trust?

Some social theorists claim that trust is necessary for the smooth functioning of a democratic society. Yet many recent surveys suggest that trust is on the wane in the United States. Does this foreshadow trouble for the nation? In Cooperation Without Trust? Karen Cook, Russell Hardin, and Margaret Levi argue that a society can function well in the absence of trust. Though trust is a useful element in many kinds of relationships, they contend that mutually beneficial cooperative relationships can take place without it. Cooperation Without Trust? employs a wide range of examples illustrating how parties use mechanisms other than trust to secure cooperation. Concerns about one’s reputation, for example, could keep a person in a small community from breaching agreements. State enforcement of contracts ensures that business partners need not trust one another in order to trade. Similarly, monitoring worker behavior permits an employer to vest great responsibility in an employee without necessarily trusting that person. Cook, Hardin, and Levi discuss other mechanisms for facilitating cooperation absent trust, such as the self-regulation of professional societies, management compensation schemes, and social capital networks. In fact, the authors argue that a lack of trust—or even outright distrust—may in many circumstances be more beneficial in creating cooperation. Lack of trust motivates people to reduce risks and establish institutions that promote cooperation. A stout distrust of government prompted America’s founding fathers to establish a system in which leaders are highly accountable to their constituents, and in which checks and balances keep the behavior of government officials in line with the public will. Such institutional mechanisms are generally more dependable in securing cooperation than simple faith in the trustworthiness of others. Cooperation Without Trust? suggests that trust may be a complement to governing institutions, not a substitute for them. Whether or not the decline in trust documented by social surveys actually indicates an erosion of trust in everyday situations, this book argues that society is not in peril. Even if we were a less trusting society, that would not mean we are a less functional one.

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Coping with Crisis

Government Reactions to the Great Recession

Coping with Crisis: Government Reactions to the Great Recession

The financial crisis that erupted on Wall Street in 2008 quickly cascaded throughout much of the advanced industrial world. Facing the specter of another Great Depression, policymakers across the globe responded in sharply different ways to avert an economic collapse. Why did the response to the crisis—and its impact on individual countries—vary so greatly among interdependent economies? How did political factors like public opinion and domestic interest groups shape policymaking in this moment of economic distress? Coping with Crisis offers a rigorous analysis of the choices societies made as a devastating global economic crisis unfolded. With an ambitiously broad range of inquiry, Coping with Crisis examines the interaction between international and domestic politics to shed new light on the inner workings of democratic politics. The volume opens with an engaging overview of the global crisis and the role played by international bodies like the G-20 and the WTO. In his survey of international initiatives in response to the recession, Eric Helleiner emphasizes the limits of multilateral crisis management, finding that domestic pressures were more important in reorienting fiscal policy. He also argues that unilateral decisions by national governments to hold large dollar reserves played the key role in preventing a dollar crisis, which would have considerably worsened the downturn. David R. Cameron discusses the fiscal responses of the European Union and its member states. He suggests that a profound coordination problem involving fiscal and economic policy impeded the E.U.’s ability to respond in a timely and effective manner. The volume also features several case studies and country comparisons. Nolan McCarty assesses the performance of the American political system during the crisis. He argues that the downturn did little to dampen elite polarization in the U.S.; divisions within the Democratic Party—as well as the influence of the financial sector—narrowed the range of policy options available to fight the crisis. Ben W. Ansell examines how fluctuations in housing prices in 30 developed countries affected the policy preferences of both citizens and political parties. His evidence shows that as housing prices increased, homeowners expressed preferences for both lower taxes and a smaller safety net. As more citizens supplement their day-to-day income with assets like stocks and housing, Ansell’s research reveals a potentially significant trend in the formation of public opinion. Five years on, the prospects for a prolonged slump in economic activity remain high, and the policy choices going forward are contentious. But the policy changes made between 2007 and 2010 will likely constrain any new initiatives in the future. Coping with Crisis offers unmatched analysis of the decisions made in the developed world during this critical period. It is an essential read for scholars of comparative politics and anyone interested in a comprehensive account of the new international politics of austerity.

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The Corporate Social Audit

Much has been said about the general subject [of how to measure a corporation's social performance] but little has been contributed to answering this fundamental question. Thus, in November 1971, Russell Sage Foundation sponsored a development effort aimed at examining the "state-of-the-art" and at suggesting a program of research that would advance that state.

"Raymond Bauer and Dan Fenn have provided us with a first product—a state-of-the-art conception and description, and recommendations for future development. They are to be commended for their astute considerations and their clear thinking in the murky pond of corporate social audits. Their effort has provided the social science community with a point of departure for future research in the area."—Eleanor Bernert Sheldon

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Social Science Frontiers Series

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Counted Out

Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family

When state voters passed the California Marriage Protection Act (Proposition 8) in 2008, it restricted the definition of marriage to a legal union between a man and a woman. The act’s passage further agitated an already roiling national debate about whether American notions of family could or should expand to include, for example, same-sex marriage, unmarried cohabitation, and gay adoption. But how do Americans really define family? The first study to explore this largely overlooked question, Counted Out examines currents in public opinion to assess their policy implications and predict how Americans’ definitions of family may change in the future. Counted Out broadens the scope of previous studies by moving beyond efforts to understand how Americans view their own families to examine the way Americans characterize the concept of family in general. The book reports on and analyzes the results of the authors’ Constructing the Family Surveys (2003 and 2006), which asked more than 1,500 people to explain their stances on a broad range of issues, including gay marriage and adoption, single parenthood, the influence of biological and social factors in child development, religious ideology, and the legal rights of unmarried partners. Not surprisingly, the authors find that the standard bearer for public conceptions of family continues to be a married, heterosexual couple with children. More than half of Americans also consider same-sex couples with children as family, and from 2003 to 2006 the percentages of those who believe so increased significantly—up 6 percent for lesbian couples and 5 percent for gay couples. The presence of children in any living arrangement meets with a notable degree of public approval. Less than 30 percent of Americans view heterosexual cohabitating couples without children as family, while similar couples with children count as family for nearly 80 percent. Counted Out shows that for most Americans, however, the boundaries around what they define as family are becoming more malleable with time. Counted Out demonstrates that American definitions of family are becoming more expansive. Who counts as family has far-reaching implications for policy, including health insurance coverage, end-of-life decisions, estate rights, and child custody. Public opinion matters. As lawmakers consider the future of family policy, they will want to consider the evolution in American opinion represented in this groundbreaking book.

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Cradle to Kindergarten

A New Plan to Combat Inequality

Early care and education for many children in the United States is in crisis. The period between birth and kindergarten is a critical time for child development, and socioeconomic disparities that begin early in children’s lives contribute to starkly different long-term outcomes for adults. Yet, compared to other advanced economies, high-quality child care and preschool in the United States are scarce and prohibitively expensive for many middle-class and most disadvantaged families. To what extent can early-life interventions provide these children with the opportunities that their affluent peers enjoy and contribute to reduced social inequality in the long term? Cradle to Kindergarten offers a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy that diagnoses the obstacles to accessible early education and charts a path to opportunity for all children.
 
The U.S. government invests less in children under the age of five than do most other developed nations. Most working families must seek private childcare, which means that children from low-income households, who would benefit most from high-quality early education, are the least likely to attend them. Existing policies, such as pre-kindergarten in some states are only partial solutions. To address these deficiencies, the authors propose to overhaul the early care system, beginning with a federal paid parental leave policy that provides both mothers and fathers with time and financial support after the birth of a child. They also advocate increased public benefits, including an expansion of the child care tax credit, and a new child care assurance program that subsidizes the cost of early care for low- and moderate-income families. They also propose that universal, high-quality early education in the states should start by age three, and a reform of the Head Start program that would include more intensive services for families living in areas of concentrated poverty and experiencing multiple adversities from the earliest point in these most disadvantaged children’s lives. They conclude with an implementation plan and contend that these reforms are attainable within a ten-year timeline.
 
Reducing educational and economic inequalities requires that all children have robust opportunities to learn, fully develop their capacities, and have a fair shot at success. Cradle to Kindergarten presents a blueprint for fulfilling this promise by expanding access to educational and financial resources at a critical stage of child development.
 

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Credit Markets for the Poor

Access to credit is an important means of providing people with the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Loans are essential for most people who want to purchase a home, start a business, pay for college, or weather a spell of unemployment. Yet many people in poor and minority communities—regardless of their creditworthiness—find credit hard to come by, making the climb out of poverty extremely difficult. How dire are the lending markets in these communities and what can be done to improve access to credit for disadvantaged groups? In Credit Markets for the Poor, editors Patrick Bolton and Howard Rosenthal and an expert team of economists, political scientists, and legal and business scholars tackle these questions with shrewd analysis and a wealth of empirical data.

Credit Markets for the Poor opens by examining what credit options are available to poor households. Economist John Caskey profiles how weak credit options force many working families into a disastrous cycle of short-term, high interest loans in order to sustain themselves between paychecks. Löic Sadoulet explores the reasons that community lending organizations, which have been so successful in developing countries, have failed in more advanced economies. He argues the obstacles that have inhibited community lending groups in industrialized countries—such as a lack of institutional credibility and the high cost of establishing lending networks—can be overcome if banks facilitate the community lending process and establish a system of repayment insurance. Credit Markets for the Poor also examines how legal institutions affect the ability of the poor to borrow. Daniela Fabbri and Mario Padula argue that well-meaning provisions making it more difficult for lenders to collect on defaulted loans are actually doing a disservice to the poor in credit markets. They find that in areas with lax legal enforcement of debt agreements, credit markets for the poor are underdeveloped because lenders are unwilling to take risks on issuing credit or will do so only at exorbitant interest rates. Timothy Bates looks at programs that facilitate small-business development and finds that they have done little to reduce poverty. He argues that subsidized business creation programs may lure inexperienced households into entrepreneurship in areas where little profitable investment is possible, hence setting them up for failure.

With clarity and insightful analysis, Credit Markets for the Poor demonstrates how weak credit markets are impeding the social and economic mobility of the needy. By detailing the many disadvantages that impoverished people face when seeking to borrow, this important new volume highlights a significant national problem and offers solutions for the future.

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