In 1958, economist J.K. Galbraith claimed that poverty in the U.S. was no longer “a massive affliction [but] more nearly an afterthought.” Four years later, Michael Harrington published The Other America, exposing the persistence of mass poverty despite the general prosperity of the nation. For over 50 years, the poverty debates have continued to focus on the visible and invisible poor.
This class will briefly explore some historical issues around poverty — the challenges and controversies around the various definitions of poverty, the debates in the late 1950s and early 1960s around the existence of poverty in the U.S. — but the majority of the course will focus on contemporary discussions of poverty, gender, race, family structure, and sexual orientation.
We will use as our primary text, a new two-volume anthology of essays, The Economics of Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination in the 21st Century (2013). These articles span a wide range of discussions on the causes of and possible solutions to poverty in the U.S. We will look at labor and housing issues, immigration and welfare issues, prison and schooling issues.