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Wealth and Poverty in America. A Reader

  • ID: 2248024
  • Book
  • November 2002
  • 312 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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The ideologies of equal opportunity and individual responsibility that dominate American culture tend to obscure the casual connections between poverty and wealth. Uncovering these connections is one of the purposes of this book.

Wealth and Poverty in America is an accessible collection of over 20 important essays on the complex relationship between the rich and poor in the United States. It first presents classic and contemporary selections that form theories of where wealth comes from and why wealth tends to concentrate in the hands of the few. This set of readings deals with wealth at a more systematic, rather than individual, level. Next, the book deals with the question of why certain individuals – based on position in the economy, or accident of birth – can expect to have greater or lesser chances of being rich (or poor), and how inequality gets reproduced. It goes on to offer a series of the most important classic and contemporary readings that focus on the life of the upper class and the daily experience of being poor in America. The final section opens up the question of what is possible in terms of the distribution of material rewards in America.

An editorial introduction and suggestions for further reading make this a valuable source of information and analysis on the realities of wealth and poverty in America.

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Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Wealth and Poverty in the Affluent Society 1

Part I: On the Origins and Causes of Wealth and Poverty: Systemic Explanations 11

1. Of the Division of Labor 13
Adam Smith

2. Absolute and Relative Surplus Value 21
Karl Marx

3. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 29
Max Weber

4. Some Principles of Stratification 43
Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore

5. Winner–Take–All Markets 53
Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook

Part II: Who′s Rich, Who′s Poor: How Resources Affect Life Chances 67

6. Inequality 69
Christopher Jencks

7. What Money Can′t Buy: Family Income and Children′s Life Chances 76
Susan Mayer

8. Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth and Social Policy in America 83
Dalton Conley

9. Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril among the Black Middle Class 96
Mary Patillo–McCoy

10. Ain′t No Making It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low–Income Neighborhood 115
Jay MacLeod

Part III: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous 127

11. From Democracy in America 129
Alexis de Tocqueville

12. The Miser and the Spendthrift 135
Georg Simmel

13. The Very Rich 140
C. Wright Mills

14. Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How they Got There 161
David Brooks

15. The Case of Pullman, Illinois 172
Michael Walzer

Part IV: Lifestyles of the Poor and Anonymous 179

16. Swapping 181
Carol Stack

17. The Code of the Streets 190
Elijah Anderson

18. Sidewalk Sleeping and Crack Bingeing 201
Mitchell Duneier

19. Whores, Slaves, and Stallions: Languages of Exploitation and Accommodation Among Prizefighters 211
Loic Wacquant

Part V: What is to Be Done? Wealth, Poverty, and Public Policy 223

20. In the Shadow of the Poorhouse: A Social History of Welfare in America 225
Michael Katz

21. The Hidden Agenda 254
William Julius Wilson

22. The Stakeholder Society 267
Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott

23. Black Economic Progress in the Era of Mass Imprisonment 278
Bruce Western, Becky Pettit, Josh Guetzkow

Additional Readings 291

Index 293

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Dalton Conley
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