American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass

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Harvard University Press, 1993 - Social Science - 292 pages
23 Reviews

This powerful and disturbing book clearly links persistent poverty among blacks in the United States to the unparalleled degree of deliberate segregation they experience in American cities.

American Apartheid shows how the black ghetto was created by whites during the first half of the twentieth century in order to isolate growing urban black populations. It goes on to show that, despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968, segregation is perpetuated today through an interlocking set of individual actions, institutional practices, and governmental policies. In some urban areas the degree of black segregation is so intense and occurs in so many dimensions simultaneously that it amounts to "hypersegregation."

The authors demonstrate that this systematic segregation of African Americans leads inexorably to the creation of underclass communities during periods of economic downturn. Under conditions of extreme segregation, any increase in the overall rate of black poverty yields a marked increase in the geographic concentration of indigence and the deterioration of social and economic conditions in black communities. As ghetto residents adapt to this increasingly harsh environment under a climate of racial isolation, they evolve attitudes, behaviors, and practices that further marginalize their neighborhoods and undermine their chances of success in mainstream American society. This book is a sober challenge to those who argue that race is of declining significance in the United States today.


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Review: American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass

User Review  - David Wilson - Goodreads

Another heart-breaking account of mistreatment of African Americans in our nation. The effects of this injustice linger today. Read full review

Review: American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass

User Review  - Honeybadger - Goodreads

A very well reasoned look at why we're still in this mess in modern day North America. I'm in Canada, but these points and lessons apply just as well here to the aboriginal population. Read full review


The Construction of the Ghetto
The Persistence of the Ghetto
The Continuing Causes of Segregation
The Creation of Underclass Communities
The Perpetuation of the Underclass
The Failure of Public Policy
The Future of the Ghetto 277

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About the author (1993)

Douglas S. Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is coauthor of American Apartheid (1993), which won the Distinguished Publication Award of the American Sociological Association. More recently, he coauthored The Source of the River (2003), the first analysis of minority achievement in selective colleges and universities based on a representative sample, as well as the follow-up book Taming the River (2009), which examined the determinants of persistence and grade achievement through the first two years of college. Massey has also published extensively on Mexican immigration, including the books Return to Aztlan (1987) and Miracles on the Border (1995), which won a 1996 Southwest Book Award. His latest two books on immigration are Beyond Smoke and Mirrors (2002), which won the 2004 Otis Dudley Duncan Award for the best book in social demography, and Brokered Boundaries: Constructing Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times (2010). Massey is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is past-president of the Population Association of America and the American Sociological Association and current president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He was recently elected to the Council of the National Academy of Science.

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