William Julius Wilson's "The Truly Disadvantaged"

Meet William Julius Wilson

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William Julius Wilson
Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Director, Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy


Book Summary

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.

Notable Quotes

“The Truly Disadvantaged should spur critical thinking in many quarters about the causes and possible remedies for inner city poverty. As policymakers grapple with the problems of an enlarged underclass they—as well as community leaders and all concerned Americans of all races—would be advised to examine Mr. Wilson's incisive analysis.”
— Robert Greenstein, New York Times Book Review

“This book is a major statement on public policy and race relations in the United States, and it will be widely influential in shaping the discourse about that policy.”
— Troy Duster, UC Berkeley

“Wilson and his collaborators…worked a miracle of common sense and delineated a policy for the next era of American reform.”
— New Yorker, March 1988


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