Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History
Author: Alice OConnor
Progressive-era "poverty warriors" cast poverty in America as a problem of unemployment, low wages, labor exploitation, and political disfranchisement. In the 1990s, policy specialists made "dependency" the issue and crafted incentives to get people off welfare. Poverty Knowledge gives the first comprehensive historical account of the thinking behinmd these very different views of "the poverty problem," in a century-spanning inquiry into the politics, institutions, ideologies, and social science that shpaed poverty research and policy.
Alice O'Connor chronicles a transformation in the study of poverty, from a reform-minded inquiry into the political economy of industrial capitalism to a detached, highly technical analysis of the demographic and behavioral characteristics of the poor. Along the way, she uncovers the origins of several controversial concepts, including the "culture of poverty" and the "underclass." She shows how such notions emerged not only from trends within the social sciences, but from the central preoccupations of twentieth-century American liberalism: economic growth, the Cold War against communism, the changing fortunes of the welfare state, and the enduring racial divide.
The book details important changes in the politics and organization as well as the substance of poverty knowledge. Tracing the genesis of a still-thriving poverty research industry from its roots in the War on Poverty, it demonstrates how research agendas were subsequently influenced by an emerging obsession with welfare reform. Over the course of the twentieth century, O'Connor shows, the study of poverty became more about altering individual behavior and less about addressing structural inequality. The consequences of this steady narrowing of focus came to the fore in the 1990s, when the nation's leading poverty experts helped to end "welfare as we know it." O'Connor shows just how far they had traveled from their field's original aims.
Contemporary Sociology - Robert F. Kelly
Poverty Knowledge has many strengths. It is a well-written analysis by a historian with substantial experience in the not-for-profit organizations that funded and substantively influenced much of the production of poverty knowledge over the past two decades. O'Connor's historical tracking of the relative influence of sociology, anthropology, and economics, and their paradigms in the production of poverty knowledge will be essential reading for historians of the social and policy sciences.
What People Are Saying
Alice O'Connor knows more about the social science literature on poverty than any other historian in America. No one has put the whole story together as she has. Her conclusions emerge as nuanced,sophisticated,and sound. Her book is also written with exceptional clarity and grace. It will supercede all other histories of poverty knowledge in the United States that deal with the twentieth century.
There is nothing like this superb history and assessment of systematic social science concerned with poverty. Written by a historian with uncommon vantages on policy ideas,the book powerfully situates what,and how,we know within the dynamics of ideology,power,and interest that have characterized twentieth-century American liberalism. Richly researched and arrestingly composed,it informs policy history as well as options for the future.
William Julius Wilson
Poverty Knowledge is the most important analysis of the evolution of poverty knowledge ever published. Alice O'Connor's book is must reading for those who seek a comprehensive understanding of past and current social science writings on American poverty. Moreover,it provides a new vision that inextricably links the study of poverty to the broader study of political economy. This book will be discussed and debated for many years.
James T. Patterson
In this strongly argued,deeply researched,and very well-written book,Alice O'Connor lays bare the narrowness of social 'science' concerning poverty in American life since the progressive era. Neither liberals nor conservatives escape her informed,tough-minded critique.
Herbert J. Gans
Poverty Knowledge is an insightful and incisive account of poverty research since the nineteenth century. Alice O'Connor's disgust with the use of research to stigmatize the poor comes through powerfully and clearly. Critical history at its best,the book should also be read by sociologists,anthropologists,political scientists,economists,and welfare and antipoverty researchers--as well as teachers in these fields.
Table of Contents:
|Chapter 1.||Origins: Poverty and Social Science in The Era of Progressive Reform||25|
|Chapter 2.||Poverty Knowledge as Cultural Critique: The Great Depression||55|
|Chapter 3.||From the Deep South to the Dark Ghetto: Poverty Knowledge, Racial Liberalism, and Cultural "Pathology"||74|
|Chapter 4.||Giving Birth to a "Culture of Poverty": Poverty Knowledge in Postwar Behavioral Science, Culture, and Ideology||99|
|Chapter 5.||Community Action||124|
|Chapter 6.||In the Midst of Plenty: The Political Economy of Poverty in the Affluent Society||139|
|Chapter 7.||Fighting Poverty with Knowledge: The Office of Economic Opportunity and the Analytic Revolution in Government||166|
|Chapter 8.||Poverty's Culture Wars||196|
|Chapter 9.||The Poverty Research Industry||213|
|Chapter 10.||Dependency, the "Underclass," and a New Welfare "Consensus": Poverty Knowledge for a Post-Liberal, Postindustrial Era||242|
|Chapter 11.||The End of Welfare and the Case for a New Poverty Knowledge||284|
New interesting textbook: Hospitality or Beard on Food
Crucible of Power, Second Edit
Author: Howard Jones
In this updated edition of Crucible of Power, Howard Jones has included a number of revisions and additions aimed at making the book more attractive to students, teachers, and general readers. A new final chapter brings the story of America's foreign relations as close to the present as possible by focusing on President George W. Bush and his dealing with 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the global war on terrorism. Among other changes, every chapter now has at least one excerpt from a key document of the period, allowing the reader to examine historical evidence firsthand in hopes of providing a feel for the period involved, promoting an understanding of history through the eyes of its participants, and showing how the historian determines the important facts relevant to reconstructing a meaningful narrative.
About the Author:
Howard Jones is University Research Professor of History at the University of Alabama