Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, 2002 - 373 pages
0 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

Progressive-era "poverty warriors" cast poverty in America as a problem of unemployment, low wages, labor exploitation, and political disfranchisement. In the 1990s, policy specialists made "dependency" the issue and crafted incentives to get people off welfare. Poverty Knowledge gives the first comprehensive historical account of the thinking behind these very different views of "the poverty problem," in a century-spanning inquiry into the politics, institutions, ideologies, and social science that shaped poverty research and policy.


Alice O'Connor chronicles a transformation in the study of poverty, from a reform-minded inquiry into the political economy of industrial capitalism to a detached, highly technical analysis of the demographic and behavioral characteristics of the poor. Along the way, she uncovers the origins of several controversial concepts, including the "culture of poverty" and the "underclass." She shows how such notions emerged not only from trends within the social sciences, but from the central preoccupations of twentieth-century American liberalism: economic growth, the Cold War against communism, the changing fortunes of the welfare state, and the enduring racial divide.


The book details important changes in the politics and organization as well as the substance of poverty knowledge. Tracing the genesis of a still-thriving poverty research industry from its roots in the War on Poverty, it demonstrates how research agendas were subsequently influenced by an emerging obsession with welfare reform. Over the course of the twentieth century, O'Connor shows, the study of poverty became more about altering individual behavior and less about addressing structural inequality. The consequences of this steady narrowing of focus came to the fore in the 1990s, when the nation's leading poverty experts helped to end "welfare as we know it." O'Connor shows just how far they had traveled from their field's original aims.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

Poverty knowledge: social science, social policy, and the poor in twentieth-century U. S. history

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this thoroughly researched and clearly written book, O'Connor (history, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) offers a comprehensive look at the changing ways American experts have thought about ... Read full review

Contents

II
3
Origins Poverty and Social Science in The Era of Progressive Reform
23
III
25
IV
55
V
74
VII
99
XI
124
In the Midst of Plenty The Political Economy of Poverty in the Affluent Society
137
XIII
166
XV
196
The Poverty Research Industry
211
XVI
213
XVII
242
XIX
284
XX
297
XXI
359

XII
139

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

Alice O'Connor was formerly the Assistant Director of the Project on Social Welfare and the American Future at the Ford Foundation, the Director for the Programs on Persistent Urban Poverty and International Migration at the Social Science Research Council, a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago, and a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. She is currently Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Bibliographic information