Category Archives: Books

New Article: The Everyday Economic Violence of Black Life

New Article: Renee Hatcher, The Everyday Economic Violence of Black Life, Journal for Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, Volume 25, Number 3, 2017. Abstract below:

A book review of Ferguson’s Fault Lines by Kimberly Norwood. In analyzing the thirteen chapters, the review highlights the central themes of spatial racism, uneven development, and discriminatory practices in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis metropolitan region. In doing so, the review argues that discriminatory development practices create unequal access to education, employment, transportation, health outcomes, and life expectancies, based on race and zip code. These development practices also give rise to and enable discriminatory policing.

The review ultimately argues that state-sanctioned discriminatory policies of both physical and economic violence are intertwined, cyclical, and compounding. In looking to solutions, I advocate that community-driven strategies that address historical discrimination and inequality will move the needle towards progress. By the same token, local housing and development policy makers should employ a racial equity impact assessment for all future investments and policies and take affirmative action to address the geography of inequality that they have helped to create and sustain.

Advertisements

New Book: Moving toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing

MTI.jpgNew Book: Richard H. Sander, Yana A. Kucheva, and Jonathan M. Zasloff, Moving toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing (2018). Overview below:

Reducing residential segregation is the best way to reduce racial inequality in the United States. African American employment rates, earnings, test scores, even longevity all improve sharply as residential integration increases. Yet far too many participants in our policy and political conversations have come to believe that the battle to integrate America’s cities cannot be won. Richard SanderYana Kucheva, and Jonathan Zasloff write that the pessimism surrounding desegregation in housing arises from an inadequate understanding of how segregation has evolved and how policy interventions have already set many metropolitan areas on the path to integration.

Scholars have debated for decades whether America’s fair housing laws are effective. Moving toward Integration provides the most definitive account to date of how those laws were shaped and implemented and why they had a much larger impact in some parts of the country than others. It uses fresh evidence and better analytic tools to show when factors like exclusionary zoning and income differences between blacks and whites pose substantial obstacles to broad integration, and when they do not.

Through its interdisciplinary approach and use of rich new data sources, Moving toward Integration offers the first comprehensive analysis of American housing segregation. It explains why racial segregation has been resilient even in an increasingly diverse and tolerant society, and it demonstrates how public policy can align with demographic trends to achieve broad housing integration within a generation.

Summer Reading List for students interested in poverty law

A number of 1Ls have asked me for a summer reading list so I decided to put one on the blog. Feel free to add to the list in the comments. These are just the books I think would make for good summer reading. There are of course other good recent books, but they might be better for academics or academic study rather than summer reading (I am thinking of Karen Tani’s States of Dependency: Welfare, Rights, and American Governance, 1935-1972 (2016) and Anne Fleming’s City of Debtors: A Century of Fringe Finance (2018), but maybe I am wrong, maybe those could be good for the 1L summer as well). My list, probably in order, is below:

  1. Jason DeParle, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare (2005) [a great way for students to both learn about welfare reform and about the lives of the poor].
  2. Kathryn Edin & H. Luke Shaeffer, $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2016) [interesting in its own right, but included here because its overview chapter at the beginning of the book is one of the best overviews of the history of welfare programs out there].
  3. Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016) [winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize, included third because it is likely assigned in many upper level poverty classes whereas the first two might not be assigned but are excellent]. My two reviews of this book are here: Yale Law Journal Forum & Fordham Urban Law Journal.
  4. James Forman, Jr., Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (2017) [winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize].
  5. Katherine Boo, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers (2014) [frankly, this is a placeholder; I think students should read one book at least about international poverty for perspective and this a good book to go with, but there are others for different parts of the world].
  6. Peter Edelman, So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America (2013) [a great march through all the ways the government fights against poverty and the history of that fight since President Johnson; a bit academic for summer reading but short enough to be accessible].

[Of course, if you want to break free from poverty books, I am a huge fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in a Time of Cholera, John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River (for those who have already read Garp), and the novels of Martin Cruz Smith, starting with Gorky Park.]

New Book: Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty

COVER_PlacesinNeedNew Book: Scott W. Allard, Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty (2017). Overview below:

Americans think of suburbs as prosperous areas that are relatively free from poverty and unemployment. Yet, today more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities themselves. In Places in Need, social policy expert Scott W. Allard tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers. Rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Allard notes that because the suburban social safety net is less developed than the urban safety net, a better understanding of suburban communities is critical for understanding and alleviating poverty in metropolitan areas.

Using census data, administrative data from safety net programs, and interviews with nonprofit leaders in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Allard shows that poor suburban households resemble their urban counterparts in terms of labor force participation, family structure, and educational attainment. In the last few decades, suburbs have seen increases in single-parent households, decreases in the number of college graduates, and higher unemployment rates. As a result, suburban demand for safety net assistance has increased. Concerning is evidence suburban social service providers—which serve clients spread out over large geographical areas, and often lack the political and philanthropic support that urban nonprofit organizations can command—do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand.

To strengthen local safety nets, Allard argues for expanding funding and eligibility to federal programs such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which have proven effective in urban and suburban communities alike. He also proposes to increase the capabilities of community-based service providers through a mix of new funding and capacity-building efforts.

Places in Need demonstrates why researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders should focus more on the shared fate of poor urban and suburban communities. This account of suburban vulnerability amidst persistent urban poverty provides a valuable foundation for developing more effective antipoverty strategies.

New Book: “The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America”

9780691177663New Book: Robert Wuthnow, The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America (2018). Overview below:

How a fraying social fabric is fueling the outrage of rural Americans

What is fueling rural America’s outrage toward the federal government? Why did rural Americans vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump? And, beyond economic and demographic decline, is there a more nuanced explanation for the growing rural-urban divide? Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Robert Wuthnow brings us into America’s small towns, farms, and rural communities to paint a rich portrait of the moral order–the interactions, loyalties, obligations, and identities—underpinning this critical segment of the nation. Wuthnow demonstrates that to truly understand rural Americans’ anger, their culture must be explored more fully.

We hear from farmers who want government out of their business, factory workers who believe in working hard to support their families, town managers who find the federal government unresponsive to their communities’ needs, and clergy who say the moral climate is being undermined. Wuthnow argues that rural America’s fury stems less from specific economic concerns than from the perception that Washington is distant from and yet threatening to the social fabric of small towns. Rural dwellers are especially troubled by Washington’s seeming lack of empathy for such small-town norms as personal responsibility, frugality, cooperation, and common sense. Wuthnow also shows that while these communities may not be as discriminatory as critics claim, racism and misogyny remain embedded in rural patterns of life.

Moving beyond simplistic depictions of the residents of America’s heartland, The Left Behind offers a clearer picture of how this important population will influence the nation’s political future.

New Book: “The Desire for Mutual Recognition”

DMRNew Book: Peter Gabel, The Desire for Mutual Recognition (Routledge 2018). Overview below:

The Desire for Mutual Recognition is a work of accessible social theory that seeks to make visible the desire for authentic social connection, emanating from our social nature, that animates all human relationships.

Using a social-phenomenological method that illuminates rather than explains social life, Peter Gabel shows how the legacy of social alienation that we have inherited from prior generations envelops us in a milieu of a “fear of the other,” a fear of each other. Yet because social reality is always co-constituted by the desire for authentic connection and genuine co-presence, social transformation always remains possible, and liberatory social movements are always emerging and providing us with a permanent source of hope. The great progressive social movements for workers’ rights, civil rights, and women’s and gay liberation, generated their transformative power from their capacity to transcend the reciprocal isolation that otherwise separates us. These movements at their best actually realize our fundamental longing for mutual recognition, and for that very reason they can generate immense social change and bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

Gabel examines the struggle between desire and alienation as it unfolds across our social world, calling for a new social-spiritual activism that can go beyond the limitations of existing progressive theory and action, intentionally foster and sustain our capacity to heal what separates us, and inspire a new kind of social movement that can transform the world.

-Thanks to Duncan Kennedy for the heads up!

New Book: “High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing”

High RisersNew Book: Ben Austen, High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing (2018).

Wash Post book review here.

-Thanks to Susan Bennett for the heads up!

New Book: “City of Debtors: A Century of Fringe Finance”

CityofDebtorsNew Book: Anne Fleming, City of Debtors: A Century of Fringe Finance (2018). Overview below:

Since the rise of the small-sum lending industry in the 1890s, people on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder in the United States have been asked to pay the greatest price for credit. Again and again, Americans have asked why the most fragile borrowers face the highest costs for access to the smallest loans. To protect low-wage workers in need of credit, reformers have repeatedly turned to law, only to face the vexing question of where to draw the line between necessary protection and overreaching paternalism.

City of Debtors shows how each generation of Americans has tackled the problem of fringe finance, using law to redefine the meaning of justice within capitalism for those on the economic margins. Anne Fleming tells the story of the small-sum lending industry’s growth and regulation from the ground up, following the people who navigated the market for small loans and those who shaped its development at the state and local level. Fleming’s focus on the city and state of New York, which served as incubators for numerous lending reforms that later spread throughout the nation, differentiates her approach from work that has centered on federal regulation. It also reveals the overlooked challenges of governing a modern financial industry within a federalist framework.

Fleming’s detailed work contributes to the broader and ongoing debate about the meaning of justice within capitalistic societies, by exploring the fault line in the landscape of capitalism where poverty, the welfare state, and consumer credit converge.

New Book: “Racial Taxation: Schools, Segregation, and Taxpayer Citizenship, 1869–1973”

Racial TaxationNew Book: Camille Walsh, Racial Taxation: Schools, Segregation, and Taxpayer Citizenship, 1869–1973 (2018). Summary below:

In the United States, it is quite common to lay claim to the benefits of society by appealing to “taxpayer citizenship”–the idea that, as taxpayers, we deserve access to certain social services like a public education. Tracing the genealogy of this concept, Camille Walsh shows how tax policy and taxpayer identity were built on the foundations of white supremacy and intertwined with ideas of whiteness. From the origins of unequal public school funding after the Civil War through school desegregation cases from Brown v. Board of Education to San Antonio v. Rodriguez in the 1970s, this study spans over a century of racial injustice, dramatic courtroom clashes, and white supremacist backlash to collective justice claims.

Incorporating letters from everyday individuals as well as the private notes of Supreme Court justices as they deliberated, Walsh reveals how the idea of a “taxpayer” identity contributed to the contemporary crises of public education, racial disparity, and income inequality.

New Book: “Who Speaks for the Poor?: Electoral Geography, Party Entry, and Representation”

SpeaksNew Book: Karen Long Jusko, Who Speaks for the Poor?: Electoral Geography, Party Entry, and Representation (2017). Overview below:

Who Speaks for the Poor? explains why parties represent some groups and not others. This book focuses attention on the electoral geography of income, and how it has changed over time, to account for cross-national differences in the political and partisan representation of low-income voters. Jusko develops a general theory of new party formation that shows how changes in the geographic distribution of groups across electoral districts create opportunities for new parties to enter elections, especially where changes favor groups previously excluded from local partisan networks. Empirical evidence is drawn first from a broadly comparative analysis of all new party entry and then from a series of historical case studies, each focusing on the strategic entry incentives of new low-income peoples’ parties. Jusko offers a new explanation for the absence of a low-income people’s party in the USA and a more general account of political inequality in contemporary democratic societies.