Understanding the Nature of Poverty in Urban America

by James Jennings


A guide to the key issues and writings on urban poverty in contemporary America.

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August 1994


Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/U.S. Public Policy and Administration
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This book is designed to help readers navigate through the vast and rapidly growing literature on poverty in urban America. The major themes, topics, debates, and issues are examined through an analysis of eight basic questions about the nature and problem of urban poverty: *What is poverty, and how is it measured? *What kinds of national policies have been utilized to manage poverty? *What are the major characteristics and trends associated with poverty in America, and how are race and ethnicity reflected in these trends? *What are the major explanations for persistent poverty in the United States? *What are the major characteristics and themes reflected in the American welfare system and anti-poverty policies? *How is the underclass defined and explained? *How have the poor utilized political mobilization to fight poverty in the United States? *How does social welfare policy directed at poverty in America compare to social welfare systems in other countries?

After analyzing these issues, Jennings concludes with a brief overview of how public discussions related to poverty in the 1990s are similar to such debates in earlier periods. Essential reading for urban policy makers, social scientists, and students of contemporary American urban concerns.

Table of Contents

Tables and FiguresPrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroductionWhat Is Poverty, and How Is Poverty Measured by the Federal Government?What Kinds of National Policies Have Been Utilized to Manage Poverty?--From the New Deal to the Clinton AdministrationWhat Are the Major Characteristics and Trends Associated with Poverty in the United States, and How Are Race and Ethnicity Reflected in These Trends?What Are the Major Explanations for Persistent Poverty in the United States?What Are the Major Characteristics and Themes Reflected in the United States Welfare System and Anti-Poverty Policies?How Is the "Underclass" Defined and Explained?How Have the Poor Utilized Political Mobilization to Fight Poverty in the United States?How Does Social Welfare Policy Directed at Poverty in the United States Compare to Social Welfare Systems in Other Countries?ConclusionNotesIndex



This work serves as a resource to fill in gaps and broaden the scope of available information about the nature and growth of poverty in the U.S. It may be of particular value to politicians, professionals, and organizations working for the reduction of poverty in America, as well as to students and faculty at any level.— Choice

...a refreshing antidote for the poisonous mixture of prejudice and ideology that currently passes for debate around poverty and social policy in the United States and, increasingly in Canada. This book will be useful as an introduction into the ways in which so-called welfare reform in the United States is tearing apart the fabric of its cities.— Canadian Journal of Urban Research


...One of the most thoughtful and comprehensive works on urban poverty in the U.S. The inclusion of Latino and cooperative racial data helps to fill an important gap in the poverty literature and shows that poverty touches us all. It is especially timely and critical for current anti-poverty debates and will quickly become a valuable resource for researchers, policy makers, and others who want a thorough understanding of a serious problem.—Sonia M. Perez, National Council of La Raza

An invaluable distillation of what is known about urban poverty in the U.S. The best single overview on this topic, Professor Jennings' book is an essential text for college faculty and a basic reference for practitioners. Its organization around key issues makes the volume ideal for teaching and public decision-making.—Robert M. Hollister, Director, Lincoln Filene Center, Lincoln Filene Professor of Public Affairs, Tufts University

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