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Why Don't American Cities Burn?
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Why Aren't U.S. Cities Burning? | Dissent Magazine
A philosophical novel that does run smooth, says Johanna Thomas-Corr. How I gave this book a proper test and ended up with a broken ankle. Caitlin comes clean about politics — the world according to our funniest feminist. By Rosamund Urwin. By Katie Law. Joker in the spying pack. By Richard Bassett. The darkness that lies at the heart of the novel is offset by a lightness of touch, says Mark Sanderson.
Elvis proves not quite so lyrical on the page, says Nick Curtis. His poetry paints better pictures than any camera, says David Sexton. Morality wins out over macabre murders, says Melanie McDonagh. The book contends that this is the wrong question. Instead, I ask: In what ways have African American social structure changed? The second chapter points to two major trends.
The first is differentiation, the division of African American social structure through the accumulation of many small and not so-small distinctions. The distance between Barack Obama and the men fighting to the death in North Philadelphia illustrates the outcome.
The other trend is the emergence of a gender gap: on most measures of education, income, and occupation black women increasingly outpace black men. Poverty is the subject of the fourth and final substantive chapter.
Mass racial violence in the United States
The third is the title chapter. Have changes in ideas about poverty and strategies for its alleviation accompanied the transformation of American cities? A term which referred more to behavior than to economic condition, underclass provided the latest iteration of the oldest trope about poor people: their division into the deserving and undeserving poor.
Instead, from Bangladesh to New York, writers celebrated the entrepreneurial energy of poor people waiting for the spark of opportunity to transform their lives. Poverty entrepreneurs jettisoned the underclass idea and developed new techniques of poverty work based on market-based principles.
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The four most prominent were rebuilding markets in inner cities the poor as consumers ; microfinance the poor as entrepreneurs ; asset building the poor as savers ; and conditional cash transfers the poor as rational actors. How effective were these new technologies? The jury remains out on each of them.
Whether singly or together they can seriously dent poverty remains uncertain or, less charitably, doubtful. But they do represent a break with past ideas about poverty. The displacement of pathological stereotypes of the poor with images of competent entrepreneurs accumulating assets marks a new stage in poverty discourse and policy.