Does America Hate the Poor? The Other American Dilemma: Lessons for the 21st Century from the 1960s and the 1970s

By John E. Tropman | Go to book overview

Part II
PICTURES IN PLENTY: CONCEPTIONS OF THE UNDERCLASS

The chapters in this section explore what people themselves think about the poor. The first chapters look at the public's views (in Boston and Kansas City) in response to an open-ended question: "Tell me about the lowest class and the next-to-the-lowest class." The use of a "lowest class" and "next-to- the-lowest class" framework gives respondents a chance to tell the interviewer how they, as respondents, defined the situation. It is then possible to pull together the responses into some kind of coherent picture of what the respondents did think about each group--and the thoughts were different.

This procedure has its perils; the categories constructed here have only "face" validity, and they need to be checked by other research. But they represent a start, an initial assay into the nature of the ideas people have about the poor. One positive thought is that we have the views of the lowest class themselves to put into play here.

A second study looks at the opinions of County Welfare Directors around the United States to see what they themselves think and what they believe the public thinks. Finally, data are provided for mothers of sixth-grade children in Detroit in the mid-1960s on their opinion of public and private agencies.

The overall picture is one of negativism toward the poor. The persistence of negative views of the poor during the height of programmatic expansion in just this area is interesting.

-25-

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Does America Hate the Poor? The Other American Dilemma: Lessons for the 21st Century from the 1960s and the 1970s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Note x
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Part I Who are the Poor, and Does America Hate Them? 1
  • Note 4
  • Chapter 1 How America Hates the Poor 5
  • Conclusion 15
  • Notes 15
  • Chapter 2 Poorfare Culture, Welfare State 17
  • Conclusion 23
  • Part II Pictures in Plenty: Conceptions of the Underclass 25
  • Chapter 3 Laggards and Lushes: Images of the Poor 27
  • Conclusion 43
  • Notes 43
  • Chapter 4 The Decent Poverty Stricken: Images of the Near Poor 45
  • Conclusion 57
  • Chapter 5 The Overseer of the Poor: View from the County Welfare Office 59
  • Conclusion 70
  • Note 71
  • Chapter 6 Mothers: Opinions and Stereotypes 73
  • Conclusion 79
  • Note 80
  • Part III The Life Cycle Poor: Images of the Aged 81
  • Note 83
  • Chapter 7 Images of the Elderly 85
  • Conclusion 91
  • Notes 91
  • Chapter 8 American Culture and the Aged: Stereotypes and Realities 93
  • Conclusion 104
  • Notes 105
  • Chapter 9 What the Public Thinks: Older and Younger Adults 107
  • Conclusion 123
  • Note 123
  • Part IV Why America Hates Poor 125
  • Chapter 10 The Poorfare State: Embodiment and Revelation 129
  • Conclusion 131
  • Chapter 11 Social Exploitation 133
  • Conclusion 142
  • Notes 143
  • Chapter 12: Mirror of Destiny 145
  • Notes 152
  • References 153
  • Bibliography 159
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 173
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