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More Than Just Race William Julius Wilson University Professor at Harvard Past president of the American Sociological Association Published in 2010 Harry.

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Presentation on theme: "More Than Just Race William Julius Wilson University Professor at Harvard Past president of the American Sociological Association Published in 2010 Harry."— Presentation transcript:

1 More Than Just Race William Julius Wilson University Professor at Harvard Past president of the American Sociological Association Published in 2010 Harry Herbert & Eric Toepfer

2 Outline Structural and Cultural Forces That Contribute to Racial Inequality The Forces Shaping Concentrated Poverty The Economic Plight of the Inner-City Black Males The Fragmentation of the Poor Black Family Conclusion: proposals and take home lessons

3 Structural and Cultural Forces that Contribute to Racial Inequality Social Structure Culture

4 Fundamental Question “What is the relative importance of each of these two dimensions in accounting for the formation and persistence of the inner-city ghetto, the plight of black males, and breakdown of the black family?”

5 Structural Forces 2 types contribute to racial group outcomes such as differences in poverty and employment rate: ◦Social acts (behavior of individuals w/in society) ◦Social processes (“machinery” of society that exists to promote ongoing relations among members of the larger group)

6 Impact of Cultural Forces 2 types: ◦National views and beliefs on race. ◦Cultural traits that emerge from patterns of intragroup interaction in settings created by discrimination and segregation and that reflect collective experiences within those settings.  Racism, living in racially segregated neighborhoods.

7 Forces Shaping Concentrated Poverty Role of political Actions: Redlining Freeways Suburbanization Federal Public Housing Policies ◦Housing Act of 1949 Shift in federal gov’t support for basic urban programs Decline in federal support for cities and increase in immigration of people from poorer countries.

8 Impact of Economic Forces Metropolitan development Relationship between technology and international competition. ◦Eroded basic institutions of mass production system. ◦Drastically reduced importance of physical capital. Spatial mismatch created by sprawl and economic stagnation.

9 Role of Cultural Factors Neighborhood effects: ◦Living in a racially segregated, poor neighborhood is exposed to cultural framing, habits, styles of behavior, and particular skills that emerge from patterns of racial exclusion. ◦These practices are not conducive to social mobility.

10 Concentrated Poverty Study Patrick Sharkley (Panel Study of Income Dynamics-PSID) The study revealed that residing in disadvantaged neighborhoods impedes academic development. Majority of Black families reside in poorest neighborhood for consecutive generations. ◦Compared to only 7% of white families.

11 Structure vs. Culture a brief review Although cultural forces play a role in inner-city outcomes, they are secondary to the larger economic and political forces, both racial and nonracial, that move American society.

12 The Economic Plight of Inner-City Black Males Context Role of structural factors Role of cultural factors graphics8.nytimes.com/.../08/books/ford-600.jpg

13 African American Men in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhoods

14 Education # of Bachelor’s Degrees

15 Employment to population ratios of nonenrolled males by educational attainment and racial/ethic group in the United States, 2005 Percentage of menemployed

16 Ratio of the Median Annual Earnings of year old black men to all men by educational attainment, Percentage of black medianincome that is equivalent to themedian income of all men, byeducational group

17 Average annual earnings of 24 year old males in bottom 25% of the earnings distribution between 2000 and 2004 in their ethnic group Income

18 Role of Structural Factors “Shifts in the economy from manufacturing to service industries have accompanied changes in the criminal justice system and compounded the negative effects of employers’ attitudes toward inner-city black males.” (76)

19 Unemployment Decreased relative demand for low-skilled labor caused by the computer revolution The globalization of economic activity The declining manufacturing sector The growth of the service sector

20 Incarceration Bruce Western “Among black male high school dropouts the risk of imprisonment has increased to 60 percent, establishing incarceration as a normal stopping point on the route to midlife” (72)

21 Employer attitudes “In my business black men tend to be known to be dishonest…that’s the image they have. (interviewer: So you think it’s an image problem?) Respondent: An image problem of being dishonest men and lazy…It’s all an image though. Whether they are or not, I don’t know.” (74)

22 Role of Cultural Factors Cool-Pose Culture Culture of Defeatism Culture of Resistance women-conversation-1.jpg

23 Cool-Pose Culture Orlando Patterson “Hanging out on the street after school, shopping and dressing sharply, sexual conquest, party drugs, and hip-hop music.” (80) AAAAAAAAo0/IRlrOmgwJHI/s1600-h/cool+kids.com

24 Culture of Defeatism Weak Evidence Same Work Values

25 Culture of Resistance Weak Evidence Reservation Wages

26 “Structural explanations of the economic woes of low-skilled black men are far more significant than cultural arguments, even though structural and cultural forces jointly restrict black male progress in some situations.” (94)

27 The Fragmentation of the Poor Black Family Context Role of Structure Role of Culture brotherherm.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/singl...

28 Percentage of black births to unmarried women US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Trends in Illegitimacy , Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States , US Department of Health and Human Services, Births: Preliminary Data for 2005

29 US Bureau of the Census

30 “Children from low-income households without fathers present are more likely to be school dropouts, become teenage parents, receive lower earnings in young adulthood, be welfare recipients, and experience cognitive, emotional, and social problems.” (102)

31 Role of Structural Factors Welfare Joblessness abagond.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/welfare.jpg

32 Role of Culture Cultural continuity The Mexican American family and the black family Cultural framings of marriage and motherhood.

33 Cultural Continuity transferred through generations Weak evidence 1.bp.blogspot.com/_Yawiu9y1v5M/RoG2hGw5scI/AA...

34 Mexican Americans & Blacks Mexican Immigrants have a strong concept of the traditional family Religion Strong attachment to the labor force Likely to change the longer they are exposed to US norms. (117) Mexican American women born in the US divorce at 40.9 percent compared to 13.1 percent of women born in Mexico. (117)

35 Cultural Framings of Marriage and Motherhood Current research is weak New structural realities ◦Diminishing employment opportunities Changing norms ◦“changing patterns of family formation are not limited to the inner-city black community but are part of wider societal trends.” (129)

36 Structure more important -The evidence to support the cultural continuity thesis is insufficient -Research reveals that the cultural responses among poor women – black, white, and Puerto Rican – tend to be similar. -“we can only speculate whether the historic racial experiences of inner-city African American women have uniquely influenced their cultural framings of marriage and motherhood”(132)

37 Conclusion Structural and Cultural Forces That Contribute to Racial Inequality The Forces Shaping Concentrated Poverty The Economic Plight of Inner-City Black Males The Fragmentation of the Poor Black Family Framing the Issue Take Home Lessons

38 Framing the Issue New Deal era – structure Today - individual initiative Emphasize personal responsibility with government support. ◦“people who are working should not be poor”

39 Take Home Lessons Culture and Structure are not mutually exclusive One persons culture is another persons structure Culture is often an outcome of structural factors. Structural factors have the greatest influence over racial inequality today. Future policies that address these factors must be framed in a way that acknowledges the role of structural forces.


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