Skip to Main Content
Acute Poverty: The Fatal Flaw in U.S. Anti-Poverty Law
Debates over inequality have largely ignored the largest body of people living in poverty. Although anti-poverty policymaking focuses overwhelmingly on the chronic poor, a far larger number of people suffer occasional acute bouts of poverty. The causes of the acute poor's problems, and their needs, differ significantly from those of the chronic poor. Even short spells of poverty can cause serious, physical, psychological, and material harm as well as impairment in their ability to return to their former circumstances.
Demographically, the acute poor resemble the general population far more than the chronic poor, yet they receive little sympathy: politicians may praise them in the abstract, but all too often the acute poor become collateral damage in struggles over the treatment of the chronic poor. The standard model of public welfare law, which is built around avoiding moral hazard, ill-fits the acute poor. A combination of eligibility limits, arduous procedures, deliberate stigmatization, waiting lists, and conduct requirements reduces the chronic poor's receipt of aid but often affects the acute poor even more powerfully. More recently, some politicians have begun to attack the acute poor directly. The acute poor pay for the safety net in good times but cannot access it in bad.
Replacing the standard model of public welfare law would allow limited public funds to better serve all low-income people, acute and chronic alike. Greater attention to the acute poor would reduce their hardship and could lead to reexamination of some overly simplistic ideas about the chronic poor as well.
Get to Work or Go to Jail: State Violence and the Racialized Production of Precarious Work
Work requirements backed by threats of incarceration offer a fertile but neglected site for sociolegal inquiry. These “carceral work mandates” confound familiar accounts of both the neoliberal state's production of precarious work through deregulation and the penal state's production of racialized exclusion from labor markets. In two illustrative contexts--child support enforcement and criminal legal debt--demands for work emerge as efforts to increase and then seize earnings from indigent debtors; an ability to pay is defined to include an ability to work. In a third, demands for work are imposed directly through probation, parole, and other community supervision. In each context, the carceral state regulates work outside of prison. It defines appropriate labor conditions through concepts of voluntary unemployment, and it enables employers to discipline or retaliate against workers by triggering state violence. Additionally, mandated work may be removed from employment law protections when the carceral context dominates its sociolegal meaning. Finally, the resulting vulnerable workforces can be used to displace or discipline other workers not personally subject to carceral work mandates. Analogies to welfare work requirements, workplace immigration enforcement, and prison labor illustrate these points. Implications are considered for theorizing contemporary racial political economy.
Passive Voter Suppression: Campaign Mobilization and the Effective Disfranchisement of the Poor
A recent spate of election laws tightened registration rules, reduced convenient voting opportunities, and required voters to show specific types of identification in order to vote. Because these laws make voting more difficult, critics have analogized them to Jim Crow Era voter suppression laws.
We challenge the analogy that current restrictive voting laws are a reincarnation of Jim Crow Era voter suppression. While there are some notable similarities, the analogy obscures a more apt comparison to a different form of voter suppression--one that operates to effectively disfranchise an entire class of people, just as the old form did for African Americans. This form of suppression excludes the poor.
To account for the effective disfranchisement of the poor, we develop a more robust theory of voting than currently exists in the legal literature. Drawing on rational choice and sociological theories of voting, we show how information, affiliation with formal organizations, and integration into social networks of politically active individuals are far more important to the decision to vote than the tangible costs of voting associated with the new voter suppression.
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Paternalism, Poverty, and Food Justice
Two recent, controversial policy initiatives have revealed conflicts among three groups that take an interest in the eating habits of the poor: anti-hunger advocates, anti-obesity advocates, and “food justice” advocates. These initiatives--Los Angeles's zoning ordinance banning new fast food restaurants in one low-income neighborhood and New York City's proposal to ban the use of food stamps for soda purchases--are supported by anti-obesity advocates but opposed by many others, including (in the case of the latter initiative) anti-hunger groups. Opponents have argued that there is something uniquely troubling about government paternalism when it singles out a marginalized group like the poor. The food justice movement has been largely silent during these debates, though the issues strongly relate to the movement's central goal of promoting equal access to healthy food. This silence seems to stem from the movement's lack of a coherent vision of equality, which leaves it unable to decide if these policies are discriminatory. This Article argues that this lack of a coherent vision is a major failing of this important emerging movement, which should follow the lead of the environmental justice movement by using these sorts of difficult issues to refine and communicate its message. The Article also examines the scholarship surrounding paternalistic policies that target marginalized groups, creates a rubric for exploring whether such policies are at odds with the ideal of equality, and applies that rubric to the two policy initiatives. This exercise demonstrates how different conceptualizations of equality *36 influence the analysis of these types of proposals. This observation underscores the food justice movement's need to articulate a clear vision of equality, particularly since many emerging food policy issues involve paternalism that disproportionately affects the poor.
Where Race Meets Class: The 21st Century Civil Rights Agenda
A new century presents new challenges in civil rights, as elsewhere. My purpose here is to address some of those new challenges. We need to begin, though, by reminding ourselves that many of the old challenges still demand our attention. We have not yet finished building Dr. King's “beloved community.” The civil rights movement remains a work in progress. We are a long way from ending what I call “plain old garden variety discrimination” in employment, in housing, in public accommodations, in voting, and elsewhere. Too many people want to say we solved the problem of race in America when we passed all those laws in the sixties. They want to say it is over and done with and we can move on. There has been great progress, of course, and we should celebrate every bit of it. But we still face a major challenge to educate America that the basic work of ending discrimination is nowhere near complete.
The Working Poor by
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Arab and Jew, an intimate portrait unfolds of working American families struggling against insurmountable odds to escape poverty. As David K. Shipler makes clear in this powerful, humane study, the invisible poor are engaged in the activity most respected in American ideology--hard, honest work. But their version of the American Dream is a nightmare: low-paying, dead-end jobs; the profound failure of government to improve upon decaying housing, health care, and education; the failure of families to break the patterns of child abuse and substance abuse. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems by taking us into the sorrowful, infuriating, courageous lives of the poor--white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for they do jobs essential to the American economy. This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.
Call Number: HC 110 .P6 S48 2005
Publication Date: 2005
Visions of Poverty by
Images of poverty shape the debate surrounding it. In 1996, then President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform legislation repealing the principal federal program providing monetary assistance to poor families, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). With the president's signature this originally non-controversial program became the only title of the 1935 Social Security Act to be repealed. The legislation culminated a retrenchment era in welfare policy beginning in the early 1980s. To understand completely the welfare policy debates of the last half of the 20th Century, the various images of poor people that were present must be considered. Visions of Poverty explores these images and the policy debates of the retrenchment era, recounting the ways in which images of the poor appeared in these debates, relaying shifts in images that took place over time, and revealing how images functioned in policy debates to advantage some positions and disadvantage others. Looking to the future, Visions of Poverty demonstrates that any future policy agenda must first come to terms with the vivid, disabling images of the poor that continue to circulate. In debating future reforms, participants-whose ranks should include potential recipients-ought to imagine poor people anew. This ground breaking study in policymaking and cultural imagination will be of particular interest to scholars in rhetorical studies, political science, history, and public policy.
Call Number: Online: ProQuest Ebook Central
Publication Date: 2001
Race, Poverty, and Domestic Policy by
What explains the continuing hardship of so many black Americans? A distinguished group of scholars analyses the long, complex structural and environmental causes of discrimination and their effects on African-Americans. The authors examine the impact of poverty, poor health, poor schools, poor housing, poor neighbourhoods, and few job opportunities, and demonstrate how multiple causes reinforce each other and condemn African-Americans to positions of inferiority and poverty. Some of the contributors examine policies designed to correct problems, while others look at the changing racial and ethnic composition in America and its implications for African-Americans, as other minorities surpass them in numbers and claim political, economic, and social attention.
Call Number: E 185.86 .R25 2004
Publication Date: 2004
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE * NAMED ONE OF TIME'S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE * One of the most acclaimed books of our time, this modern classic "has set a new standard for reporting on poverty" (Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times Book Review). In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as "wrenching and revelatory" (The Nation), "vivid and unsettling" (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America's most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY President Barack Obama * The New York Times Book Review * The Boston Globe * The Washington Post * NPR * Entertainment Weekly * The New Yorker * Bloomberg * Esquire * BuzzFeed * Fortune * San Francisco Chronicle * Milwaukee Journal Sentinel * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Politico * The Week * Chicago Public Library * BookPage * Kirkus Reviews * Library Journal * Publishers Weekly * Booklist * Shelf Awareness WINNER OF: The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction * The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction * The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction * The Hillman Prize for Book Journalism * The PEN/New England Award * The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE AND THE KIRKUS PRIZE "Evicted stands among the very best of the social justice books."--Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth "Gripping and moving--tragic, too."--Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones "Evicted is that rare work that has something genuinely new to say about poverty."--San Francisco Chronicle
Call Number: HD 7287.96 .U6 D47 2016
Publication Date: 2017
Lost in the Transit Desert by
Increased redevelopment, the dismantling of public housing, and increasing housing costs are forcing a shift in migration of lower income and transit dependent populations to the suburbs. These suburbs are often missing basic transportation, and strategies to address this are lacking. This absence of public transit creates barriers to viable employment and accessibility to cultural networks, and plays a role in increasing social inequality. This book investigates how housing and transport policy have played their role in creating these "Transit Deserts," and what impact race has upon those likely to be affected. Diane Jones Allen uses research from New Orleans, Baltimore, and Chicago to explore the forces at work in these situations, as well as proposing potential solutions. Mapping, interviews, photographs, and narratives all come together to highlight the inequities and challenges in Transit Deserts, where a lack of access can make all journeys, such as to jobs, stores, or relatives, much more difficult. Alternatives to public transit abound, from traditional methods such as biking and carpooling to more culturally specific tactics, and are examined comprehensively. This is valuable reading for students and researchers interested in transport planning, urban planning, city infrastructure, and transport geography.
Call Number: HT 123 .A45 2018
Publication Date: 2017
Feeding the Other by
How food pantries stigmatize their clients through a discourse that emphasizes hard work, self help, and economic productivity rather than food justice and equity. The United States has one of the highest rates of hunger and food insecurity in the industrialized world, with poor households, single parents, and communities of color disproportionately affected. Food pantries--run by charitable and faith-based organizations--rather than legal entitlements have become a cornerstone of the government's efforts to end hunger. In Feeding the Other, Rebecca de Souza argues that food pantries stigmatize their clients through a discourse that emphasizes hard work, self help, and economic productivity rather than food justice and equity. De Souza describes this "framing, blaming, and shaming" as "neoliberal stigma" that recasts the structural issue of hunger as a problem for the individual hungry person. De Souza shows how neoliberal stigma plays out in practice through a comparative case analysis of two food pantries in Duluth, Minnesota. Doing so, she documents the seldom-acknowledged voices, experiences, and realities of people living with hunger. She describes the failure of public institutions to protect citizens from poverty and hunger; the white privilege of pantry volunteers caught between neoliberal narratives and social justice concerns; the evangelical conviction that food assistance should be "a hand up, not a handout"; the culture of suspicion in food pantry spaces; and the constraints on food choice. It is only by rejecting the neoliberal narrative and giving voice to the hungry rather than the privileged, de Souza argues, that food pantries can become agents of food justice.
Call Number: HV 696 .F6 D399 2019
Publication Date: 2019
Public Interest Law Resources
Private Lawyers and the Public Interest by
This collection of original essays by leading and emerging scholars in the field examines the history, conditions, organization, and strategies of pro bono lawyering. Private Lawyers and the Public Interest: The Evolving Role of Pro Bono in the Legal Profession traces the rise and impact ofthe American Bar Association's campaign to hold lawyers accountable for a commitment to public service and to encourage public service within law schools. Combining empirical legal research with reflections by practitioners and theorists about the meaning and practice of pro bono legal work, thiscollection of essays interrogates the public service ideals that are inscribed within the legal profession and places these ideals within a broader social, economic, ideological, and normative context. Particular attention is paid to the factors that explain why lawyers engage in pro bono work andthe ways in which their views of pro bono are mediated by the institutional context of their legal practice. The book also explores the concept of "public" in public service and compares pro bono as a means of delivering legal services with other mechanisms such as state funding. Collectively, theseessays investigate the evolving role of pro bono in the legal profession and in law schools, the relationship between pro bono ideals and pro bono in practice, the way that pro bono is shaped by external forces beyond the individual practitioner, and the multi-faceted nature of legal professionalismas expressed through pro bono practice.
Call Number: Online: ProQuest Ebook Central
Publication Date: 2009
Lawyering from the Heart by
Lawyering from the Heart features interviews with twenty-two talented law school graduates who stayed true to their dreams of using their education for the benefit of society. They embarked on careers as public interest lawyers. Informative, motivating, and inspiring, their stories show the satisfaction and rewards they found by living their values and following their passion. Authored by committed public interest lawyer and law professor Deborah Kenn, Lawyering from the Heart features: A candid and inspiring look at the quality of life of public interest lawyers Illuminating interviews conducted by the author A diversity of experience--from lawyers who graduated in the past five years to others who have been practicing for more than thirty Practical information about career development as a public interest lawyer Helpful advice for minimizing debt and making ends meet Extensive appendices that list state and law school Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs) and Public Interest Law Resource Groups Are any of your students wondering whether it would be financially feasible or realistic for them to pursue careers as public interest lawyers? Now there's a short but powerful paperback that you can recommend that will provide students with the courage and inspiration to live their values: Lawyering from the Heart, by Deborah Kenn .
Call Number: KF 299 .P8 K46 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Public Interest Law Organizations
Appleseed is a network of 16 Centers across the U.S. and Mexico. We are engines of systemic change working independently and collaboratively for a society where everyone is heard and has the opportunity to lead a healthy, safe and dignified life.
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
The Shriver Center seeks policies and laws that create and perpetuate poverty and racial inequity are written into the fabric of our nation. They’re complex, rooted in institutions, structures, and systems in every state. For that reason, people experience poverty differently based on their race and other identities, but all are denied dignity and freedom by institutional barriers designed to harm certain groups while advantaging others.
Systematic Inequality and Economic Opportunity
Eliminating racial disparities in economic well-being requires long-term, targeted interventions to expand access to opportunity for people of color.
Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs
The goal of the analysis is to identify additional ways these programs can apply racial equity principles in order to move the country closer to the time when people of color are no longer is proportionately food insecure and no longer disproportionately at risk of food insecurity.
Fight for $15
Fast-food workers deserve $15 an hour and a union so we can pay our rent and support our families.
National CARES Mentoring
National CARES Mentoring Movement is a pioneering community-galvanizing movement dedicated to alleviating intergenerational poverty among African Americans. It offers Black children in low-income families and unstable communities the social, emotional and academic supports they need to unleash their potential and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college or vocational-training programs and 21st-century careers. We employ two primary strategies. The proven-effective, consciousness-shifting model, ideated and built by experts over a decade, unearths hope and resilience in our young living with trauma-causing impacts of poverty—homelessness, hunger, unrelenting violence, gravely under-resourced schools and overwhelmed parents and teachers. The traumatic stress children in poverty live with fuels mental illness and physical disease, including anxiety, depression, hypertension, substance abuse, obesity, violence and also the recent spike in suicide.
© 2024 Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University. All rights reserved.