Publications

2009
William Julius Wilson. 3/9/2009. More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City, Pp. 208. New York: W. W. Norton. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A preeminent sociologist of race explains a groundbreaking new framework for understanding racial inequality, challenging both conservative and liberal dogma.

In this timely and provocative contribution to the American discourse on race, William Julius Wilson applies an exciting new analytic framework to three politically fraught social problems: the persistence of the inner-city ghetto, the plight of low-skilled black males, and the fragmentation of the African American family. Though the discussion of racial inequality is typically ideologically polarized. Wilson dares to consider both institutional and cultural factors as causes of the persistence of racial inequality. He reaches the controversial conclusion that while structural and cultural forces are inextricably linked, public policy can only change the racial status quo by reforming the institutions that reinforce it.

2007
William Julius Wilson. 2007. There Goes the Neighborhood. Publisher's VersionAbstract

From one of America’s most admired sociologists and urban policy advisers, There Goes the Neighborhood is a long-awaited look at how race, class, and ethnicity influence one of Americans’ most personal choices—where we choose to live. The result of a three-year study of four working- and lower-middle class neighborhoods in Chicago, these riveting first-person narratives and the meticulous research which accompanies them reveal honest yet disturbing realities—ones that remind us why the elusive American dream of integrated neighborhoods remains a priority of race relations in our time.

2006
William J. Wilson, Delbert S. Elliott, Scott Menard, Bruce Rankin, Amanda Elliott, and David Huizinga. 2006. Good Kids from Bad Neighborhoods: Successful Development in Social Context. New York: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This is a study of successful youth development in poor, disadvantaged neighborhoods in Denver and Chicago – a study of how children living in the worst neighborhoods develop or fail to develop the values, competencies, and commitments that lead to a productive, healthy, and responsible adult life. While there is a strong focus on neighborhood effects, the study employs a multicontextual model to take into account the effects of other social contexts embedded in the neighborhood that also influence development. The unique and combined influence of the neighborhood, family, school, peer group, and individual attributes on developmental success is estimated. The view that growing up in a poor, disadvantaged neighborhood condemns one to a life of repeated failure and personal pathology is revealed as a myth, as most youth in these neighborhoods are completing the developmental tasks of adolescence successfully.
2002
William J. Wilson and Marta Tienda. 2002. Youth in Cities: A Cross-National Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's Version
2001
William J. Wilson, Neil Smelser, and Faith Mitchell. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Consequences in the United States. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The 20th Century has been marked by enormous change in terms of how we define race. In large part, we have thrown out the antiquated notions of the 1800s, giving way to a more realistic, sociocultural view of the world. The United States is, perhaps more than any other industrialized country, distinguished by the size and diversity of its racial and ethnic minority populations. Current trends promise that these features will endure. Fifty years from now, there will most likely be no single majority group in the United States. How will we fare as a nation when race-based issues such as immigration, job opportunities, and affirmative action are already so contentious today?
1996
William Julius Wilson. 1996. When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor. New York: Vintage Books.Abstract

Wilson, one of our foremost authorities on race and poverty, challenges decades of liberal and conservative pieties to look squarely at the devastating effects that joblessness has had on our urban ghettos. Marshaling a vast array of data and the personal stories of hundreds of men and women, Wilson persuasively argues that problems endemic to America's inner cities--from fatherless households to drugs and violent crime--stem directly from the disappearance of blue-collar jobs in the wake of a globalized economy. Wilson's achievement is to portray this crisis as one that affects all Americans, and to propose solutions whose benefits would be felt across our society. At a time when welfare is ending and our country's racial dialectic is more strained than ever, When Work Disappears is a sane, courageous, and desperately important work.

1995
William J. Wilson, Katherine McFate, and Roger Lawson. 1995. Poverty, Inequality and the Future of Social Policy: Western States in the New World Order. New York: Russell Sage Publications. Publisher's VersionAbstract
"Extremely coherent and useful, this much needed volume is concerned with the current status of the poor in Western industrial states. Its closely linked essays allow comparisons between case studies and are often themselves cross-national comparisons....The essays also comment on the meaning of globalization for social policy." —Choice

"Excellent and tightly integrated articles by a group of prominent international scholars....A timely and important book, which will surely become the basic reference point for all future research on inequality and social policy." —Contemporary Sociology

The social safety net is under strain in all Western nations, as social and economic change has created problems that traditional welfare systems were not designed to handle. Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policy provides a definitive analysis of the conditions that are fraying the social fabric and the reasons why some countries have been more successful than others in addressing these trends. In the United States, where the poverty rate in the 1980s was twice that of any advanced nation in Europe, the social protection system—and public support for it—has eroded alarmingly. In Europe, the welfare system more effectively buffered the disadvantaged, but social expenditures have been indicted by many as the principal cause of high unemployment.

Concluding chapters review the progress and goals of social welfare programs, assess their viability in the face of creeping economic, racial, and social fragmentation, and define the challenges that face those concerned with social cohesion and economic prosperity in the new global economy. This volume illuminates the disparate effects of government intervention on the incidence and duration of poverty in Western countries. Poverty, Inequality, and the Future of Social Policy is full of lessons for anyone who would look beyond the limitations of the welfare debate in the United States.
1993
William J. Wilson. 1993. The Ghetto Underclass: Social Science Perspectives (Updated Edition). Updated edition. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Sponsored by the American Academy of Political and Social Science William Julius Wilson is a leader in the study of the urban underclass. His controversial thesis states that the fragmentation of the black community along class lines has resulted in a group of blacks who have left the inner city for middle-class suburban life, leaving behind the ghetto underclass of very disadvantaged poor. This thesis has had an enormous impact on the study of urban life, race, and society. Originally published as a special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The Ghetto Underclass addresses questions from theoretical, empirical, and policy perspectives. Wilson and other leading social scientists cover demographic and industrial transitions, family patterns, sexual behavior, immigration, and homelessness of the urban underclass. Wilson's introduction updates recent work on this topic since publication of the Annals issue. The Ghetto Underclass should be read by all students and professionals of urban studies, ethnic studies, sociology, policy studies, political science, social work, social welfare, and education.
William J. Wilson. 1993. Sociology and the Public Agenda. Newbury Park: Sage Publications. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Published in Cooperation with the American Sociological Society.

Sociology has had a long and convoluted relationship with the public policy community. While the field has historically considered its mission one of effecting social change, in recent decades this has become only a minor part of the sociological agenda. The editor of this volume, MacArthur Fellow and former ASA President William Julius Wilson, asserts that sociology's ostrich-like stance threatens to leave the discipline in a position of irrelevance to the world at large and compromises the support of policymakers, funders, media, and the public. Wilson's vision is of a sociology attuned to the public agenda, influencing public policy through both short- and long-range analysis from a sociological perspective. Using a variety of policy issues, perspectives, methods, and cases, the distinguished contributors to this volume both demonstrate and emphasize Wilson's ideas. Undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, and academics in sociology, political science, policy studies, and human services will find this argument for sociology's civic duty to be both compelling and refreshing. "The eighteen chapters on issues ranging from cultural and historical definitions of citizenship to American welfare policies and American corporate mergers are strong examples of solid social research, where authors draw out policy implications and, based on their research, make policy proposals. . . . Sociology and the Public Agenda is an insightful book for scholars of social policy, and also those interested in research design issues. The book is very relevant for political scientists engaged in policy research, interested in innovative research designs, and wondering about the 'place' of the social scientist in setting public agendas." -Policy Currents

1989
William J. Wilson. 1989. The Ghetto Underclass: Social Science Perspectives. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Discussions of inner-city social dislocations are often severed from the struggles and structural changes in the larger society, economy, and polity that in fact determine them, resulting in undue emphasis on the individual attributes of ghetto residents and on the alleged pip of the so-called culture of poverty. This article provides a different perspective by drawing attention to the specific features of the proximate social structure in which ghetto residents evolve and try to survive. This is done by contrasting the class composition, welfare trajectories, economic and financial assets, and social capital of blacks who live in Chicago's ghetto neighborhoods with those who reside in this city's low-poverty areas. Our central argument is that the interrelated set of phenomena captured by the term "underclass" is primarily social-structural and that the inner city is experiencing a crisis because the dramatic growth in joblessness and economic exclusion associated with the ongoing spatial and industrial restructuring of American capitalism has triggered a process of hyperghettoization.
1987
William Julius Wilson. 1987. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Renowned American sociologist William Julius Wilson takes a look at the social transformation of inner city ghettos, offering a sharp evaluation of the convergence of race and poverty. Rejecting both conservative and liberal interpretations of life in the inner city, Wilson offers essential information and a number of solutions to policymakers. The Truly Disadvantaged is a wide-ranging examination, looking at the relationship between race, employment, and education from the 1950s onwards, with surprising and provocative findings. This second edition also includes a new afterword from Wilson himself that brings the book up to date and offers fresh insight into its findings.

1978
William Julius Wilson. 1978. The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

When first published in 1980, The Declining Significance of Race immediately sparked controversy with its contentious thesis that race was becoming less of a deciding factor in the life chances of black Americans than class. This new edition of the seminal book includes a new afterword in which William Julius Wilson not only reflects on the debate surrounding the book, but also presents a provocative discussion of race, class, and social policy.

“The intellectual strength of this book lies in his capacity to integrate disparate findings from historical studies, social theory and research on contemporary trends into a complex and original synthesis that challenges widespread assumptions about the cause of black disadvantage and the way to remove it.”—Paul Starr, New York Times Book Review

“This publication is easily one of the most erudite and sober diagnoses of the American black situation. Students of race relations and anybody in a policy-making position cannot afford to bypass this study.”—Ernest Manheim, Sociology

1973
William Julius Wilson. 1973. Power, Racism, and Privilege: Race Relations in Theoretical and Sociohistorical Perspectives. Macmillan Co.
Peter I. Rose, Stanley Rothman, and William Julius Wilson. 1973. Through Different Eyes: Black and White Perspectives on American Race Relations. New York: Oxford University Press. Publisher's Version