When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor

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Knopf, 1996 - Social Science - 322 pages
Wilson explores how the current loss of blue-collar jobs has crucially affected American society. He discusses the effects of the "suburbanization" of employment, which has excluded the black urban poor who remain isolated in neighborhoods of concentrated unemployment, neighborhoods that once featured a sizable proportion of working families. He describes the lack of locally available training and education, and the dissolution of government and private support of local organizations that once supplied job information as well as employment opportunities. And he examines as well the attitudes of employers toward ghetto residents and the resulting effects on hiring policies. Interweaving the voices of scores of inner-city men and women whom he interviewed during years of intensive study, Wilson dismantles the conservative argument that the people of the ghettos lack drive and aspiration. He demonstrates that, on the contrary, their desire and quest for success and a stable life are comparable to those of society at large, but they develop within a context of constraints and opportunity drastically different from those in middle-class society. Finally, Wilson outlines a series of programs that can help both the urban poor and the middle class, programs that are politically feasible at a time when government is battling to reform welfare. He defines a framework of long and short-term solutions to get America's jobless working again, including a twenty-first-century version of the WPA work program, available to all; transportation alternatives to get men and women to jobs in outlying areas; and crucial training and jobs for one of the groups with the highest unemployment rates - new highschool graduates. In When Work Disappears, William Julius Wilson, one of the country's most highly praised and influential sociologists, makes a major contribution to the economic and social health of the nation - not only through his analysis of an almost overwhelming problem but through the practical steps he suggests toward a solution.

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WHEN WORK DISAPPEARS: The World of the New Urban Poor

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A sharp rejoinder, presented with cool and pitiless logic, to conservative analysis of the largely black urban underclass. Harvard sociologist Wilson (The Truly Disadvantaged, not reviewed; The ... Read full review


From Institutional to Jobless Ghettos
Societal Changes and Vulnerable
GhettoRelated Behavior and the Structure

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About the author (1996)

William Julius Wilson, an American sociologist, received his Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1966 and teaches at the University of Chicago. His scholarly work, written from both historical and sociological perspectives, has concentrated on the condition of African Americans living in inner cities, especially the underclass. He stresses urban divisions separating the middle class from the poor.

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