The Ghetto Underclass: Social Science Perspectives


William J. Wilson. 1989. The Ghetto Underclass: Social Science Perspectives. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Publisher's Version


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.
Last updated on 08/13/2018