Undeserving Poor

Michael Katz, Author Pantheon Books $22.95 (293p) ISBN 978-0-394-53457-2
Katz ( In the Shadow of the Poorhouse: A Social History of Welfare in America ) here meticulously fashions a battery of statistics into a cogent rebuttal to the ``culture of poverty'' theory--the idea that poverty is inherited and transmitted in the form of cultural maladaptations (such as what LBJ termed ``the breakdown of the Negro family structure''). Katz persuades that this patronizing paradigm ``offered the poor social work and therapy when they needed economic justice and political mobilization.'' Instead, argues Katz, economic stagnation, a disproportionate rise in low-paying jobs and a declining minimum wage have exacerbated urban poverty. He deconstructs the ``underclass'' and the age-old categorization of the poor into ``deserving'' (e.g., widows) and ``undeserving'' ('80s welfare mothers), and concludes that domestic poverty has ``always . . . been a necessary result of America's distinctive political economy.'' (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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