America's Shame: Women and Children in Shelter and the Degradation of Family Roles

America's Shame: Women and Children in Shelter and the Degradation of Family Roles

America's Shame: Women and Children in Shelter and the Degradation of Family Roles

America's Shame: Women and Children in Shelter and the Degradation of Family Roles

Synopsis

Rejecting those who urge a "bootstrap" approach to people living in extreme poverty on the edge of society, sociologist Barbara Arrighi makes an eloquent, compassionate plea for empathy and collective responsibility toward those for whom "either the boots or the straps are missing." This book further offers solutions in consciousness raising, community collaboration, and informed, responsible public policy. The book is a critique of a system that purports to serve yet sometimes impedes the welfare of those who are in need of the basic elements for survival, including affordable shelter. It analyzes the structural factors of poverty and the social psychological costs of being poor and lacking a home. Utilizing interview findings from families who have lived in a shelter in northern Kentucky and from staff members, the book examines the degrading effects of shelter life on women's self-respect and children's development. Rather than an examination of individual pathologies leading to lack of shelter, it centers on women and children living in shelters and offers a sociological study of poverty and the family.

Excerpt

This book is written with what Max Weber called verstehen; that is, with a Weberian understanding or empathy, especially for children living in poverty. It is written for children who live in unstable economic circumstances and cannot rely on overwhelmed parents for physical safety and emotional security. It is written for children who cannot trust a system that declares the family to be sacrosanct and yet continues to erode efforts to save children. Children are betrayed twice in this society--first by their primary caretakers and then by policy makers. Despite an emerging consciousness that children whose primary needs go unmet are likely to repeat the cycle of poverty, societal responses to the children are becoming weaker. Yet what happens to poor children eventually affects all children.

Nowhere in this book will the reader find the word homeless (except in works cited). The term denies collective responsibility for the lack of affordable housing and for the lack of employment that pays sufficiently for a family to afford housing. If I could hope to accomplish one thing with this book, it would be to abolish the classification or labeling as homeless of those who are without homes. The use of labels depersonalizes a heterogeneous popula-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.