11.20-11.22 - American Politics and Social Welfare Policy...

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American Politics and Social Welfare Policy 11.20-11.22 “The underclass” is a multifaceted term - could signify poverty, joblessness, cultural deprivation, or something else Common theme: “the underclass” is somehow cut off from norms of society - different from ‘working poor’; the underclass is seen as off the social ladder Originally, ‘the underclass’ came to describe people living in highly concentrated urban areas of poverty and are primarily African American - idea of underclass merges notion of ‘pauperization’ from 19 th century and African American stereotypes (e.g. no work ethic) 1970s not a good time for American cities; riots from 1965-68 - Kerner Commission to investigate disorder in cities; issues report about underlying causes of violence – “two nations separate - There was, in fact, a general rise in urban crime; crime statistics went up, but partly b/c police got better at reporting them (still, probably true that crime went up also) - “Law and order” becomes major political issue Growth of AFDC and public assistance did not produce reduction in poverty (they’re not meant to do that), but they seemed to fuel the growth of welfare dependency, making it more possible for people to earn money without working - increasing joblessness among blacks in cities Leads to several questions: - what are the causes of the ‘underlcass’? - what are the implications for poverty? - Can all groups in ‘underclass’ be described under single rubric - Finally, what are the implications for politics and poverty? Race and poverty How did poverty come to be so closely related with race? There are a number of clusters of people who are poor: - the working poor - short term poor o those who are poor for a brief time, such as following a divorce - rural poor - ‘underclass’ o Pockets of concentrated urban poverty, uniquely associated with African Americans, although not all in this category are black Defining a poor neighborhood
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- High poverty neighborhood: think if a poor neighborhood as a census tract where more than 40% of population is poor - in 1980, in top 100 largest cities in country, there were 27 million poor people; however, only 1.8 million of them lived in high poverty neighborhood of 40% poor population Why was welfare politics so closely related to race, and why did Americans come to be so anxious about welfare, despite the ongoing large welfare state? - two explanations: structural and ideological Structural - there is a historical linkage b/w African Americans and AFDC o blacks are disproportionately likely to be targeted by AFDC o one of the key characteristics of AFDC is that it’s locally controlled - as blacks move north, they become clients not of southern local leaders, but big urban political machines and party organizatiosn - in both cities and north, welfare is an example of client-politics - these patron-clients begin to change in 1950s/1960s; in 40s and 50s, welfare had been a cheap way for city politicians to buy minority political support; in
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course POLS American P taught by Professor Lieberman during the Spring '08 term at Columbia.

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11.20-11.22 - American Politics and Social Welfare Policy...

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