11.020 | Fall 2003 | Undergraduate

Poverty, Public Policy and Controversy


This course is based on readings. Students are required to complete all readings prior to class in order to be ready for discussion.

1 Orientation Session; Syllabus, Summary Sheet, Analytical Exercise Ellwood, David. Poor Support. New York: Basic Books, 1988.
2 Policy Controversy and the Role of Values in Problem Definition

Mayer, Susan, and Jencks, Christopher. “War on Poverty: No Apologies, Please.” Op-Ed. The New York Times, November 9, 1995. (1 pp.)

Murray, Charles. “Welfare Hysteria.” Op-Ed. The New York Times, November 14, 1995. (1 pp.)

Ellwood, David. “Values and Helping Conundrums.” Chapter 2 in Poor Support. New York: Basic Books, 1988, pp. 14-26. (13 pp.)

Schön, Donald, and Martin Rein. “Policy Controversies as Frame Conflicts.” Chapter 2 in Frame-Reflection: Exploring New Approaches to the Resolution of Policy Controversies. New York: Basic Books, 1993, pp. 23-36. (13 pp.)

3 The Concept and Measurement of Poverty in the United States

Blank, Rebecca. “Introduction,” and “America’s Efforts to Provide A Safety Net” (chapter 3). In It Takes a Nation. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997, pp. 3-12. (9 pp.), and pp. 83-127. (44 pp.)

Rein, Martin. “Problems in the Definition and Measurement of Poverty.” Chapter 2 in The Concept of Poverty. Edited by Peter Towsend. London: Heinemann, 1970, pp. 46-63. (18 pp.)

Burtless, Gary, and Sarah Siegel. “Medical Spending, Health Insurance, and Measurement of American Poverty.” The Brookings Institution, September 2001, abstract and pp. 1-13. (13 pp.) Entire paper available from Brookings (PDF).

Ruggles, Patricia. Chapter 2 and “Setting the Poverty Threshold,” (chapter 3) in Drawing the Line. Washington D.C.: Urban Institute Press, 1990, pp. 33-62. (29 pp.)

4 Other Approaches to Conceptualizing and Measuring Poverty

Poverty as Capability: 

Cohen, Joshua. Book Review of Inequality Reexamined, by Amartya Sen (1992). The Journal of Philosophy (1995): 275-288.

Bell, Daniel. “On Meritocracy and Equality.” Public Interest 29 (1972): 29-68.

Poverty as Exclusion: 
Atkinson, Tony, Bea Cantillon, and Brian Nolan. “Indicators for Social Inclusion in the European Union.” Antwerp, 2001, pp. 86-106 (mimeo). (20 pp.) 
Report presented at Conference on “Indicators for Social Inclusion: Making Common EU Objectives Work.”

5 Roundtable Discussion on the Concept and Measurement of Poverty (student led)  
6 Institutional Design of Poverty Programs: Controversy over Responsibility, the Public-Private Mix Continued

Offe, Claus. “Institutional Design.” March 2000 (mimeo).

Blank, Rebecca. “Who Should Help the Poor?” Chapter 5 in It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty. Princeton NJ: Princeton/Russell Sage, 1997, pp. 191-219. (29 pp.)

Handler, Joel. Review of In the Shadow of the Poorhouse, by Michael Katz. From Reviews in American History 15 (1987): 394-401.

Rothman, David. “The Paradox of Poverty.” Chapter 7 in The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1971, pp. 155-180. (25 pp.)

Titmuss, Richard. “Social Division of Welfare.” Chapter 2 in Essays on the Welfare State. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959, pp. 34-55. (22 pp.)

7 The Public Private Mix Controversy in Pension Policy Krugman, Paul. “That Sinking Feeling.” The NY Times, 2 September, 2001.
8 The Public Private Mix Controversy in Social Service Policy: Profit and Non Profit (Non-Sectarian and Faith- Based)

Weisbrod, Burton, ed. To Profit or Not to Profit. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998, Chapters 1 and 15, pp. 1-22 and 287-305. (39 pp.)

Skocpol, T. “Religion, Civil Society, and Social Provision in the U.S.” In Who Will Provide. Edited by Bane, et. al. Boulder, CO.: Westview Press, 2001.

Tawney, R. H. “The New Medicine for Poverty.” Chapter 4 in Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. New American Library, 1922, pp. 237-254. (17 pp.)

Sawhill, Elizabeth. “Framing the Debate: Faith Based Approaches to Teenage Pregnancy,” (chapter 2), and DiIulio Jr., John J. “Compassion in Truth and Action: What Washington Can Not Do to Help,” (chapter 16). In Sacred Places, Civic Purposes: Should Government Help Faith-Based Charity? Edited by E. J. Dionne Jr, and Ming Hsu Chen. The Brookings Institution. 2001, pp. 19-28 (9 pp.) and 273-287. (14 pp.)

9 Roundtable Discussion on the Public-Private Mix  
10 The Underclass Controversy Winship, Chris. “The End of the Miracle? Crime, Faith, and Partnership in Boston in the 1990’s.” Harvard University, 2002. (26 pp.)
11 Taking Stock and Starting Discussion of the Underclass Debate

Anderson, Elijah. Code of the Streets. W. W. Norton and Company, 1999, pp. 35-105. (Optional: “Decent and Street Families,” (chapter 1), and “Campaigning for Respect,” (chapter 2).) (70 pp.)

Newman, Katherine S. “Culture and Structure in the Truly Disadvantaged.” In City and Society, 1991, pp. 3-23. (20 pp.)

Wilson, William Julius. “Cycles of Deprivation and the Ghetto Underclass Debate.” Chapter 1 in The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987, pp. 3-19. (17 pp.)

12 Analyzing and Writing Reading Arguments Ramage, John D., and John C. Bean. “Strategies for Reading Arguments.” Chapter 2 in Writing Arguments. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995, pp. 24-49. (25 pp.)
13 Moving to Opportunity

Goering, John. “Political Origins and Opposition.” In Choosing a Better Life? Evaluating the Moving to Opportunity Experiment. Edited by Goering and Feins. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute Press, 2003, pp. 37-57. (20 pp.)

De Sousa-Briggs, Xavier. “Desegregating the City: Space and Inequality in Global Perspective.” In Desegregating the City: Enclaves Yes, Ghettos No. Edited by David Varady.

14 The Controversy over Welfare Reform Ellwood, David T., and Christopher Jencks. “The Spread of Single-Parent Families in the United States Since 1960.” August 2001, pp. 1-97. (mimeo) (20 pp.)
15 Dependency in a Comparative Perspective

Kertzer, David. Chapter 2 in Sacrificed for Honor: Italian Infant Abandonment and the Politics of Reproductive Control. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993, pp. 16-37. (22 pp.)

Haskins, Ron. “Liberal and Conservative Influences on the Welfare Reform Legislation of 1996.” 1998.

Bernstein, Nina. “Few Choose Legal Havens to Abandon Babies.” The NY Times, August 31, 2001.

Rein, Martin “Dominance, Contest and Reframing.” In Into The Promised Land? Issues Facing the Welfare State. Edited by A. Ben-Arieh, and J. Gal. Westport, CT: Praeger, September 2000.

16 The American Reform of its Welfare System

Weaver, R. Kent. “Ending Welfare as We Know It.” Chapter 9 in The Social Divide. Edited by Margaret Weir. The Brookings Institution Press, 1998, pp. 361-416. (57 pp.)

Bane, Mary Jo, and David T. Ellwood. Welfare Realities: From Rhetoric to Reform. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1994, pp. 1-27. (28 pp.)

17 Roundtable Discussion of Welfare Reform  
18 Political Disenfranchisement

Marris, Peter, and Martin Rein. “Preface,” “Introduction,” and “The Underlying Assumptions,” (chapter 2). In Dilemmas of Social Reform. 1982, pp. vii-6 and pp. 33-55. (35 pp.)

Pitkin, Bill. “The Politics of Neighborhood Planning and Collective Action.” UCLA School of Policy and Social Research, 2001, p. 38.

19 Economic Growth: Poverty and the I.Q. Controversy

Blank, Rebecca. “A Changing Economy.” Chapter 2 in It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty. Princeton NJ: Princeton/Russell Sage, 1997. (31 pp.)

Gottschalk, Peter. “Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 11, no. 2 (1997): 21-40. (22 pp.)

Dalaker, Joseph. “Poverty in the United States: 2000.” U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Report, September 2001, pp. 1-28. (29 pp.)


The Controversy of Political Disenfranchisement: Poverty as a Lack of Power

Crime Deviance and Poverty Roundtable Discussion on the Underclass Debate

Wilson, James Q. “Criminologists.” Chapter 3 in Thinking About Crime. New York: Basic Books, 1975, pp. 47-70. (23 pp.)

Kennedy, David, M. “Pulling Levers: Chronic Offenders, High-Crime Settings, and the Theory of Prevention.” Valparaiso University Law Review 31, no. 2 (1997): 449-484. (36 pp.)

Lin, Ann Chih. “Crime and Poverty.” Prepared for Poverty and Social Welfare in America: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Gwendolyn Mink and Alice J. O’Connor. ABC-Clio. (Forthcoming)

DiIulio, John, Jr. “The Question of Black Crime.” The Public Interest 117 (1994): 3-40. (37 pp.)

21 Economic Power Gittell, Ross, and J. Phillip Thompson. “Inner-City Business Development and Entrepreneurship: New Frontiers for Policy and Research.” In Urban Problems and Community Development. Edited by Ronald Ferguson and William Dickens. Washington D. C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1999, pp. 473-520. (48 pp.)
22 Roundtable Discussion on Disenfranchisement  
23 Social Science Contribution to Controversy

Weaver, R. Kent. “The Role of Policy Research.” Chapter 6 in Ending Welfare as We Know It. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution Press, 2000, pp. 135-168. (34 pp.)

O’Connor, Alice. Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 2001, pp. 3-22. (20 pp.)

Bane, Mary Jo. Presidential Address - “Expertise, Advocacy and Deliberation: Lessons from Welfare Reform.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 20, no. 2 (2001): 191-197. (9 pp.)

Lindblom, Charles E. “Knowledge and Social Problems.” Chapter 1 in Inquiry and Change: The Troubled Attempt to Understand and Shape Society. New York: Yale University Press/Russel Sage, 1990, pp. 1-14. (15 pp.)

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2003