Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as "deadbeat dads." Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get pregnant so quickly—without planning. The authors chronicle the high hopes for forging lasting family bonds that pregnancy inspires, and pinpoint the fatal flaws that often lead to the relationship’s demise. They offer keen insight into a radical redefinition of family life where the father-child bond is central and parental ties are peripheral. Drawing on years of fieldwork, Doing the Best I Can shows how mammoth economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor. Intimate interviews with more than 100 fathers make real the significant obstacles faced by low-income men at every step in the familial process: from the difficulties of romantic relationships, to decision-making dilemmas at conception, to the often celebratory moment of birth, and finally to the hardships that accompany the early years of the child's life, and beyond.
Examines the shifting paradigm of unmarried fatherhood in inner cities in the United States, citing how economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor.
Thestory ofa kind of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don't even think exists from a leading national poverty expert who defies convention ("New York Times")"
Shadow Mothers shines new light on an aspect of contemporary motherhood often hidden from view: the need for paid childcare by women returning to the workforce, and the complex bonds mothers forge with the "shadow mothers" they hire. Cameron Lynne Macdonald illuminates both sides of an unequal and complicated relationship. Based on in-depth interviews with professional women and childcare providers— immigrant and American-born nannies as well as European au pairs—Shadow Mothers locates the roots of individual skirmishes between mothers and their childcare providers in broader cultural and social tensions. Macdonald argues that these conflicts arise from unrealistic ideals about mothering and inflexible career paths and work schedules, as well as from the devaluation of paid care work.
The world of welfare has changed radically. As the poor trade welfare checks for low-wage jobs, their low earnings qualify them for a hefty check come tax time—a combination of the earned income tax credit and other refunds. For many working parents this one check is like hitting the lottery, offering several months’ wages as well as the hope of investing in a better future. Drawing on interviews with 115 families, the authors look at how parents plan to use this annual cash windfall to build up savings, go back to school, and send their kids to college. However, these dreams of upward mobility are often dashed by the difficulty of trying to get by on meager wages. In accessible and engaging prose, It’s Not Like I’m Poor examines the costs and benefits of the new work-based safety net, suggesting ways to augment its strengths so that more of the working poor can realize the promise of a middle-class life.
The much-heralded War on Poverty has failed. The number of children living in poverty is steadily on the rise and an increasingly destructive underclass brutalizes urban neighborhoods. America's patience with the poor seems to have run out: even cities that have traditionally been havens for the homeless are arresting, harassing, and expelling their street people. In this timely work, William Kelso analyzes how the persistence of poverty has resulted in a reversal of liberal and conservative positions during the last thirty years. While liberals in the 1960s hoped to eliminate the causes of poverty, today they increasingly seem resigned to merely treating its effects. The original liberal objective of giving the poor a helping hand by promoting equal opportunity has given way to a new agenda of entitlements and equal results. In contrast, conservatives who once suggested that trying to eliminate poverty was futile, now seek ways to eradicate the actual causes of poverty. Poverty and the Underclass suggests that the arguments of both the left and right are misguided and offers new explanations for the persistence of poverty. Looking beyond the codewords that have come to obscure the debate—underclass, family values, the culture of poverty,—Kelso emphasizes that poverty is not a monolithic condition, but a vast and multidimensional problem. During his Presidential campaign, Bill Clinton called for an overhaul of the welfare system and spoke of a new covenant to unite both the left and right in developing a common agenda for fighting poverty. In this urgent, landmark work, William Kelso merges conservative, radical, and liberal ideals to suggest how the intractable problem of poverty may be solved at long last by implementing the principles of this new covenant.
Maligned as "deadbeat dads" or sexually and financially irresponsible inner-city fathers and overlooked in discussions of poverty and family policy, economically vulnerable nonresident fathers are a greatly misunderstood population. Failing Our Fathers summarizes the most recent quantitative and qualitative research, and undertakes new analyses to fill in important gaps, to produce a comprehensive picture of who these fathers are, what types of relationships they have with their families and children, and the challenges they face meeting what their loved ones and taxpayers expect from them. The great majority of these men see their children on a regular basis, despite the financial, legal, and extra-legal barriers they face. Besides requiring fathers to support their children, we must enable them to do so by supplementing their earnings and supporting their co-parenting, in ways that parallel how we require and enable vulnerable single mothers to support their children. The book lays out specific reforms required to achieve this goal as well as tips for those resources for economically vulnerable nonresident fathers.
Since 2000, approximately 440,000 Mexicans have migrated to the United States every year. Tens of thousands have left children behind in Mexico to do so. For these parents, migration is a sacrifice. What do parents expect to accomplish by dividing their families across borders? How do families manage when they are living apart? More importantly, do parents' relocations yield the intended results? Probing the experiences of migrant parents, children in Mexico, and their caregivers, Joanna Dreby offers an up-close and personal account of the lives of families divided by borders. What she finds is that the difficulties endured by transnational families make it nearly impossible for parents' sacrifices to result in the benefits they expect. Yet, paradoxically, these hardships reinforce family members' commitments to each other. A story both of adversity and the intensity of family ties, Divided by Borders is an engaging and insightful investigation of the ways Mexican families struggle and ultimately persevere in a global economy.
In this enlightening and timely work, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo highlights the voices, experiences, and views of Mexican and Central American women who care for other people's children and homes, as well as the outlooks of the women who employ them in Los Angeles. The new preface looks at the current issues facing immigrant domestic workers in a global context.
While women are expected to be nurturing and unselfish in their role as mothers, they are expected to be competitive and even ruthless at work. Drawing on ideas about mothering since the Middle Ages, on contemporary childrearing manuals, and on in-depth interviews, Hays shows that 'intensive mothering' is a powerful contemporary ideology. These unrealistic expectations of mothers, she suggests, reflect a deep cultural ambivalence about the pursuit of self-interest.
Gang- and drug-related inner-city violence, with its attendant epidemic of incarceration, is the defining crime problem in our country. In some neighborhoods in America, one out of every two hundred young black men is shot to death every year, and few initiatives of government and law enforcement have made much difference. But when David Kennedy, a self-taught and then-unknown criminologist, engineered the "Boston Miracle" in the mid-1990s, he pointed the way toward what few had imagined: a solution. Don't Shoot tells the story of Kennedy's long journey. Riding with beat cops, hanging with gang members, and stoop-sitting with grandmothers, Kennedy found that all parties misunderstood each other, caught in a spiral of racialized anger and distrust. He envisioned an approach in which everyone-gang members, cops, and community members-comes together in what is essentially a huge intervention. Offenders are told that the violence must stop, that even the cops want them to stay alive and out of prison, and that even their families support swift law enforcement if the violence continues. In city after city, the same miracle has followed: violence plummets, drug markets dry up, and the relationship between the police and the community is reset. This is a landmark book, chronicling a paradigm shift in how we address one of America's most shameful social problems. A riveting, page-turning read, it combines the street vérité of The Wire, the social science of Gang Leader for a Day, and the moral urgency and personal journey of Fist Stick Knife Gun. But unlike anybody else, Kennedy shows that there could be an end in sight.
Rick Santorum made his name in the 2012 presidential race with his principled conservatism. To understand Santorum’s worldview and vision for America, there is no better source than his New York Times bestselling book, It Takes a Family. It Takes a Family is one of the most profound and comprehensive books of political thought ever written by a politician. Santorum offers a penetrating look at the social, political, and economic shifts that have hurt American families—and a principled, genuinely conservative plan for reversing this slide. Here Santorum explains his core beliefs, laying out a humane vision that he believes must inform public policy if it is to be effective and just. Politicians of both parties, he shows, fail to address the way Americans truly live their lives: in families, neighborhoods, churches, and communities. It Takes a Family is animated by an appreciation for the civic bonds that unite a community—an appreciation that lies at the heart of genuine conservatism.
Millie Acevedo bore her first child before the age of 16 and dropped out of high school to care for her newborn. Now 27, she is the unmarried mother of three and is raising her kids in one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Would she and her children be better off if she had waited to have them and had married their father first? Why do so many poor American youth like Millie continue to have children before they can afford to take care of them? Over a span of five years, sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas talked in-depth with 162 low-income single moms like Millie to learn how they think about marriage and family. "Promises I Can Keep "offers an intimate look at what marriage and motherhood mean to these women and provides the most extensive on-the-ground study to date of why they put children before marriage despite the daunting challenges they know lie ahead.
A fast-growing social media marketing company, TechCo encourages all of its employees to speak up. By promoting open dialogue across the corporate hierarchy, the firm has fostered a uniquely engaged workforce and an enviable capacity for change. Yet the path hasn't always been easy. TechCo has confronted a number of challenges, and its experience reveals the essential elements of bureaucracy that remain even when a firm sets out to discard them. Through it all, TechCo serves as a powerful new model for how firms can navigate today's rapidly changing technological and cultural climate. Catherine J. Turco was embedded within TechCo for ten months. The Conversational Firm is her ethnographic analysis of what worked at the company and what didn't. She offers multiple lessons for anyone curious about the effect of social media on the corporate environment and adds depth to debates over the new generation of employees reared on social media: Millennials who carry their technological habits and expectations into the workplace. Marshaling insights from cultural and economic sociology, organizational theory, economics, technology studies, and anthropology, The Conversational Firm offers a nuanced analysis of corporate communication, control, and culture in the social media age.
Welfare mothers are popularly viewed as passively dependent on their checks and averse to work. Reformers across the political spectrum advocate moving these women off the welfare rolls and into the labor force as the solution to their problems. Making Ends Meet offers dramatic evidence toward a different conclusion: In the present labor market, unskilled single mothers who hold jobs are frequently worse off than those on welfare, and neither welfare nor low-wage employment alone will support a family at subsistence levels. Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein interviewed nearly four hundred welfare and low-income single mothers from cities in Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, and South Carolina over a six year period. They learned the reality of these mothers' struggles to provide for their families: where their money comes from, what they spend it on, how they cope with their children's needs, and what hardships they suffer. Edin and Lein's careful budgetary analyses reveal that even a full range of welfare benefits—AFDC payments, food stamps, Medicaid, and housing subsidies—typically meet only three-fifths of a family's needs, and that funds for adequate food, clothing and other necessities are often lacking. Leaving welfare for work offers little hope for improvement, and in many cases threatens even greater hardship. Jobs for unskilled and semi-skilled women provide meager salaries, irregular or uncertain hours, frequent layoffs, and no promise of advancement. Mothers who work not only assume extra child care, medical, and transportation expenses but are also deprived of many of the housing and educational subsidies available to those on welfare. Regardless of whether they are on welfare or employed, virtually all these single mothers need to supplement their income with menial, off-the-books work and intermittent contributions from family, live-in boyfriends, their children's fathers, and local charities. In doing so, they pay a heavy price. Welfare mothers must work covertly to avoid losing benefits, while working mothers are forced to sacrifice even more time with their children. Making Ends Meet demonstrates compellingly why the choice between welfare and work is more complex and risky than is commonly recognized by politicians, the media, or the public. Almost all the welfare-reliant women interviewed by Edin and Lein made repeated efforts to leave welfare for work, only to be forced to return when they lost their jobs, a child became ill, or they could not cover their bills with their wages. Mothers who managed more stable employment usually benefited from a variety of mitigating circumstances such as having a relative willing to watch their children for free, regular child support payments, or very low housing, medical, or commuting costs. With first hand accounts and detailed financial data, Making Ends Meet tells the real story of the challenges, hardships, and survival strategies of America's poorest families. If this country's efforts to improve the self-sufficiency of female-headed families is to succeed, reformers will need to move beyond the myths of welfare dependency and deal with the hard realities of an unrewarding American labor market, the lack of affordable health insurance and child care for single mothers who work, and the true cost of subsistence living. Making Ends Meet is a realistic look at a world that so many would change and so few understand.
From the New York Times-bestselling authors of THE PACT Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt discovered early in their friendship that they shared a disturbing trait: as children, they navigated dangerous inner-city life without a father’s guidance. In spite of this, they escaped delinquency and crime to form the Pact, dedicated to putting themselves on the road to success. Now, the Three Doctors make a new promise: to set aside their resentment, and rebuild the relationships with their fathers—men they barely recognize. Told in alternating voices between father and son, The Bond explores the hard lessons of growing up without a father and suggests ways to stem the tide of fatherlessness in communities across the country. Honest, brave, and poignant, The Bond is a book for every child and every family. From the Trade Paperback edition.
"When "Big Mike" Cummings asked Jorja Leap to co-lead a group for men learning how to father their children, she had no idea what to expect. What unfolds in these pages is the story of Project Fatherhood and its members as they meet every Wednesday night in Watts- the epicenter of violence in Los Angeles. The struggles the book illuminates are heartbreaking, infuriating and hilarious. Over time, the fathers both support and argue with one another about the best strategies for raising children and dealing with "significant others." Their family relationships are freighted with joy and uncertainty. But the story moves into deeper territory as the men confront long-term loss and trauma, the chronic pressure of poverty and the unquenchable desire to somehow do better and provide more for the next generation." --
Presents an in-depth look at American women and families around transformational moments in history, with new data and commentary on the current status of women in America.
Recent research on inequality and poverty has shown that those born into low-income families, especially African Americans, still have difficulty entering the middle class, in part because of the disadvantages they experience living in more dangerous neighborhoods, going to inferior public schools, and persistent racial inequality. Coming of Age in the Other America shows that despite overwhelming odds, some disadvantaged urban youth do achieve upward mobility. Drawing from ten years of fieldwork with parents and children who resided in Baltimore public housing, sociologists Stefanie DeLuca, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, and Kathryn Edin highlight the remarkable resiliency of some of the youth who hailed from the nation’s poorest neighborhoods and show how the right public policies might help break the cycle of disadvantage. Coming of Age in the Other America illuminates the profound effects of neighborhoods on impoverished families. The authors conducted in-depth interviews and fieldwork with 150 young adults, and found that those who had been able to move to better neighborhoods—either as part of the Moving to Opportunity program or by other means—achieved much higher rates of high school completion and college enrollment than their parents. About half the youth surveyed reported being motivated by an “identity project”—or a strong passion such as music, art, or a dream job—to finish school and build a career. Yet the authors also found troubling evidence that some of the most promising young adults often fell short of their goals and remained mired in poverty. Factors such as neighborhood violence and family trauma put these youth on expedited paths to adulthood, forcing them to shorten or end their schooling and find jobs much earlier than their middle-class counterparts. Weak labor markets and subpar postsecondary educational institutions, including exploitative for-profit trade schools and under-funded community colleges, saddle some young adults with debt and trap them in low-wage jobs. A third of the youth surveyed—particularly those who had not developed identity projects—were neither employed nor in school. To address these barriers to success, the authors recommend initiatives that help transform poor neighborhoods and provide institutional support for the identity projects that motivate youth to stay in school. They propose increased regulation of for-profit schools and increased college resources for low-income high school students. Coming of Age in the Other America presents a sensitive, nuanced account of how a generation of ambitious but underprivileged young Baltimoreans has struggled to succeed. It both challenges long-held myths about inner-city youth and shows how the process of “social reproduction”—where children end up stuck in the same place as their parents—is far from inevitable.
What does it mean to grow up today as working-class young adults? How does the economic and social instability left in the wake of neoliberalism shape their identities, their understandings of the American Dream, and their futures? Coming Up Short illuminates the transition to adulthood for working-class men and women. Moving away from easy labels such as the "Peter Pan generation," Jennifer Silva reveals the far bleaker picture of how the erosion of traditional markers of adulthood-marriage, a steady job, a house of one's own-has changed what it means to grow up as part of the post-industrial working class. Based on one hundred interviews with working-class people in two towns-Lowell, Massachusetts, and Richmond, Virginia-Silva sheds light on their experience of heightened economic insecurity, deepening inequality, and uncertainty about marriage and family. Silva argues that, for these men and women, coming of age means coming to terms with the absence of choice. As possibilities and hope contract, moving into adulthood has been re-defined as a process of personal struggle-an adult is no longer someone with a small home and a reliable car, but someone who has faced and overcome personal demons to reconstruct a transformed self. Indeed, rather than turn to politics to restore the traditional working class, this generation builds meaning and dignity through the struggle to exorcise the demons of familial abuse, mental health problems, addiction, or betrayal in past relationships. This dramatic and largely unnoticed shift reduces becoming an adult to solitary suffering, self-blame, and an endless seeking for signs of progress. This powerfully written book focuses on those who are most vulnerable-young, working-class people, including African-Americans, women, and single parents-and reveals what, in very real terms, the demise of the social safety net means to their fragile hold on the American Dream.

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