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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.
Public administration in Canada needs to change. A handful of scholars across Canada have been sounding the alarm for years but to no avail. Talented young bureaucrats have been joining the public service with fresh ideas capable of creating real change, but the black hole consumes all.
In The Black Hole of Public Administration, experienced public servant Ruth Hubbard and public administration iconoclast Gilles Paquet sound a wake-up call to the federal public service. They lament the lack of “serious play” going on in Canada’s public administration today and map some possible escape plans. They look to a more participatory governance model – “open source” governing or “small g” governance – as a way to liberate our public service from antiquated styles and systems of governing.
In their recognizably rebellious style, Hubbard and Paquet demand that public administration scholars and senior level bureaucrats pull their heads out of the sand and confront the problems of the current system and develop a new system that can address the needs of Canada today.
Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America
The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. But the persistence of racial profiling, economic inequality between blacks and whites, disproportionate numbers of black prisoners, and disparities in health and access to healthcare suggest there is more to the story. David H. Ikard addresses these issues in an effort to give voice to the challenges faced by most African Americans and to make legible the shifting discourse of white supremacist ideology—including post-racialism and colorblind politics—that frustrates black self-determination, agency, and empowerment in the 21st century. Ikard tackles these concerns from various perspectives, chief among them black feminism. He argues that all oppressions (of race, gender, class, sexual orientation) intersect and must be confronted to upset the status quo.
Class and Governance in the Luxury City
Education, Desegregation, and Development in Charlotte
Bringing a new perspective to Charlotte’s landmark school desegregation efforts, Stephen Samuel Smith provides a multi-faceted history of the nationally praised mandatory busing plan and the court battle that led to its ultimate demise. Although both black and white children benefited from busing, its most ongoing consequences were not educational, but the political and economic ones that served the interests of Charlotte’s business elite and facilitated the city’s economic boom. Drawing on urban regime theory, Smith shows how busing enhanced civic capacity and was part of a political alliance between Charlotte’s business elite and black political leaders. This account of Charlotte’s history has national implications for desegregation, urban education, efforts to build civic capacity, and the political involvement of the urban poor.
Comparing Border Security in North America and Europe
Border security has been high on public-policy agendas in Europe and North America since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City and on the headquarters of the American military in Washington DC. Governments are now confronted with managing secure borders, a policy objective that in this era of increased free trade and globalization must compete with intense cross-border flows of people and goods. Border-security policies must enable security personnel to identify, or filter out, dangerous individuals and substances from among the millions of travelers and tons of goods that cross borders daily, particularly in large cross-border urban regions. This book addresses this gap between security needs and an understanding of borders and borderlands. Specifically, the chapters in this volume ask policy-makers to recognize that two fundamental elements define borders and borderlands: first, human activities (the agency and agent power of individual ties and forces spanning a border), and second, the broader social processes that frame individual action, such as market forces, government activities (law, regulations, and policies), and the regional culture and politics of a borderland. Borders emerge as the historically and geographically variable expression of human ties exercised within social structures of varying force and influence, and it is the interplay and interdependence between people's incentives to act and the surrounding structures (i.e. constructed social processes that contain and constrain individual action) that determine the effectiveness of border security policies. This book argues that the nature of borders is to be porous, which is a problem for security policy makers. It shows that when for economic, cultural, or political reasons human activities increase across a border and borderland, governments need to increase cooperation and collaboration with regard to security policies, if only to avoid implementing mismatched security policies.
Environmental Advocacy and Agenda Setting
Sarah B. Pralle takes an in-depth look at why some environmental conflicts expand to attract a lot of attention and participation, while others generate little interest or action. Branching Out, Digging In examines the expansion and containment of political conflict around forest policies in the United States and Canada. Late in 1993 citizens from around the world mobilized on behalf of saving old-growth forests in Clayoquot Sound. Yet, at the same time only a very few took note of an even larger reserve of public land at risk in northern California. Both cases, the Clayoquot Sound controversy in British Columbia and the Quincy Library Group case in the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California, centered around conflicts between environmentalists seeking to preserve old-growth forests and timber companies fighting to preserve their logging privileges. Both marked important episodes in the history of forest politics in their respective countries but with dramatically different results. The Clayoquot Sound controversy spawned the largest civil disobedience in Canadian history; international demonstrations in Japan, England, Germany, Austria, and the United States; and the most significant changes in British Columbia's forest policy in decades. On the other hand, the California case, with four times as many acres at stake, became the poster child for the collaborative conservation approach, using stakeholder collaboration and negotiation to achieve a compromise that ultimately broke down and ended up in the courts. Pralle analyzes how the various political actorsùlocal and national environmental organizations, local residents, timber companies, and different levels of governmentùdefined the issues in both words and images, created and reconfigured alliances, and drew in different governmental institutions to attempt to achieve their goals. She develops a dynamic new model of conflict management by advocacy groups that puts a premium on nimble timing, flexibility, targeting, and tactics to gain the advantage and shows that how political actors go about exploiting these opportunities and overcoming constraints is a critical part of the policy process.
Legislative Member Organizations as Social Networks in the United States and the European Union
Legislative member organizations (LMOs)—such as caucuses in the U.S. Congress and intergroups in the European Parliament—exist in lawmaking bodies around the world. Unlike parties and committees, LMOs play no obvious, predefined role in the legislative process. They provide legislators with opportunities to establish social networks with colleagues who share common interests. In turn, such networks offer valuable opportunities for the efficient exchange of policy-relevant—and sometimes otherwise unattainable—information between legislative offices. Building on classic insights from the study of social networks, the authors provide a comparative overview of LMOs across advanced, liberal democracies. In two nuanced case studies of LMOs in the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress, the authors rely on a mix of social network analysis, sophisticated statistical methods, and careful qualitative analysis of a large number of in-depth interviews.
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.
Anatomy of a Market Failure and a Policy Dilemma
As the Internet revolution continues to unfold and transform telecommunications, pressure is building for faster, less expensive, and more widely accessible broadband service. Such a development would facilitate improved and less expensive traditional applications such as voice telephony and web browsing. It would also enable new and useful applications such as Internet-based television, videoconferencing, and software distribution. Broadband has great potential to improve efficiency and productivity, even to improve national security in some cases. Broadband service and affordability, however, have consistently lagged well behind demand and progress in information technology, with damaging results. The Internet revolution remains incomplete and threatens to stagnate if the situation continues. In The Broadband Problem, economist and technology entrepreneur Charles H. Ferguson explains the causes and ramifications of this damaging bottleneck, and he offers suggestions on improving the current state of affairs. He asserts that current telecommunications law and policy have not provided sufficient levels of new entry, competition, and innovation in the local telecom market. The continuing dominance of ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers) in that market impedes the healthy, and much-needed, development of an efficient broadband market. The result of these policy and market failures is inadequate technological progress, innovation, and productivity in advanced Internet services and telecommunication services generally. The broadband problem is holding us back, and thus must be addressed and solved. With this important volume, Charles Ferguson has contributed mightily to that mission.