Improving Poor People: The Welfare State, the "Underclass," and Urban Schools as History
Princeton University Press, 02/04/1997 - 191 من الصفحات
"There are places where history feels irrelevant, and America's inner cities are among them," acknowledges Michael Katz, in expressing the tensions between activism and scholarship. But this major historian of urban poverty realizes that the pain in these cities has its origins in the American past. To understand contemporary poverty, he looks particularly at an old attitude: because many nineteenth-century reformers traced extreme poverty to drink, laziness, and other forms of bad behavior, they tried to use public policy and philanthropy to improve the character of poor people, rather than to attack the structural causes of their misery. Showing how this misdiagnosis has afflicted today's welfare and educational systems, Katz draws on his own experiences to introduce each of four topics--the welfare state, the "underclass" debate, urban school reform, and the strategies of survival used by the urban poor. Uniquely informed by his personal involvement, each chapter also illustrates the interpretive power of history by focusing on a strand of social policy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: social welfare from the poorhouse era through the New Deal, ideas about urban poverty from the undeserving poor to the "underclass," and the emergence of public education through the radical school reform movement now at work in Chicago.
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Other tensions emerge from attempts to define the limits of localism. As a historian of bureaucracy, I know the stultifying impact that centralization exerted on public education. I have written of the repeated failures of top-down ...
One reason is the limits of my expertise; equally important is my conviction that experts telling people what to do is part of the problem, that the best solutions will emerge from conversations among the involved parties, ...
... the underclass; the emergence of public education through the radical school reform movement now at work in Chicago. In each chapter, I consider the implications of the story for confronting major questions of social policy today.
Without unraveling the processes through which they emerged, for example, it is impossible to explain the current features of welfare, education, or inner-city poverty. The same holds for intellectual agendas, which grow out of the ...
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