Special Issue on
The Declining Significance of Race—Revisited
EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION: REVISITING WILLIAM J.
WILSON’S THE DECLINING SIGNIFICANCE OF RACE
Richard K. Caputo and Luisa S. Deprez
MOVING BEYOND DICHOTOMIES: HOW THE
INTERSECTION OF RACE, CLASS AND PLACE
IMPACT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES FOR
AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS
Heather L. Storer , Joseph A. Mienko, Yu-Ling Chang,
Ji Young Kang, Christina Miyawaki, and Katie Schultz
Over thirty years ago, William Julius Wilson declared that class
trumped race as the more significant determinant of social mobility
and economic opportunity. Despite the acclaim and scrutiny
for Wilson’s work, the United States has grown increasingly divided
by intersecting factors of race, class and other demographic
factors such as place (Massey, 2007). These divisions are especially
evident in the public education system. We analyze how
race, class and place interact to predict high school graduation
rates in a national sample of schools and students. Results confirm
that a singular focus on race, class, or locale is insufficient
to explain high school graduation rates. However, a more contextualized
focus on the interactions between multiple determinants
of inequality (e.g., race, class and place) can yield a more
nuanced understanding of the indicators driving educational
inequalities. Scholars and practitioners need to focus on the
manner in which multiple positionalities influence the academic
achievement of African American children and young adults.
YOUNG, JOBLESS, AND BLACK: YOUNG BLACK
WOMEN AND ECONOMIC DOWNTURNS
This research challenges William Julius Wilson’s (1980) postulation
that social class has superseded race in predicting economic
outcomes among African Americans. Among the evidence Wilson
used to support his claim was the strong position of black degree
holders, particularly women. Shortly after the publication of The
Declining Significance of Race, however, the United States experienced
a severe recession and slow recovery, contributing to a marked
growth in the black-white wage gap among women. Young black
women were particularly hard hit. Over the 1980s, their cumulative
work experience became increasingly correlated with educational
attainment, leading to an absolute loss in experience among
less educated black women. Although black degree holders were able
to keep pace in cumulative work experience, their wage trajectories
flattened over their twenties, relative to both a previous cohort and
young white degree holders. The declining relative work experience
and wage erosion of young black women during the 1980s does not
bode well for young black women weathering the 2007-2009 recession.
Initial indicators find an increase in the black-white wage gap
and disproportionate growth in the length of unemployment spells
among young black women, particularly degree holders. The losses
sustained by young black degree holders during two severe recessions
and their inability to regain ground during subsequent recoveries
challenge Wilson’s thesis that educational attainment and
social class can insulate African Americans from racial inequality.
RACIAL ATTITUDES IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM:
COOL FEELINGS IN HOT TIMES
Sarah E. Cribbs
In The Declining Significance of Race, William Julius Wilson
(1980) stated social class was more influential than race in determining
social outcomes for Blacks. This thesis remains a
controversial centerpiece among race scholars. This paper examines
one part of the overall puzzle of American race relations:
white racial attitudes since September 11, 2001. Using
Wilson’s declining significance of race thesis, I question if white
racial attitudes toward Blacks declined significantly from 2002
to 2004. If social class exerts greater influence on social indicators
than race in the coming years, will racial prejudice, particularly
toward Blacks, also decline in significance? What happens
to white racial prejudice toward Blacks when a highly racialized
national crisis occurs? Does racial prejudice heighten and
become more significant or, as Wilson suggested, does it decline?
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RACE FOR NEIGHBORHOOD
SOCIAL COHESION: PERCEIVED DIFFICULTY
OF COLLECTIVE ACTION IN MAJORITY BLACK
Tara Hobson-Prater and Tamara G.J. Leech
This article explores William Julius Wilson’s contentions about
community cultural traits by examining racial differences in
middle class neighborhoods’ levels of social cohesion. Specifically,
we explore the perceived difficulty of these actions—as opposed
to general pessimism about their outcomes—as a potential explanation
for low levels of instrumental collective action in Black
middle class neighborhoods. Our results indicate that, regardless
of other neighborhood factors, majority Black neighborhoods have
low levels of social cohesion. We also find that this racial disparity
is statistically explained by shared perceptions about the amount
of effort required to engage in group action in different neighborhoods.
These findings emphasize that residence in a majority Black
area—and the well-informed perceptions accompanying it—affect
the lived experience of neighbors, even when they are middle class.
“WAITING FOR THE WHITE MAN TO FIX THINGS”:
REBUILDING BLACK POVERTY IN NEW ORLEANS
Robert L. Hawkins and Katherine Maurer
This paper revisits William Julius Wilson’s thesis that class has
surpassed race in significance of impact on African Americans.
Our study uses qualitative data from a three-year ethnographic
study of 40 largely low-income families in New Orleans following
Hurricane Katrina. We also include a review of the recent
U.S. Census study assessing New Orleans’s current economic
state. Participants in our study viewed race and class as major
factors in four areas: (1) immediately following the devastation;
(2) during relocation to other communities; (3) during the rebuilding
process; and (4) historically and structurally throughout
New Orleans. Our analysis concludes that racism is still a
major factor in the lives of people of color. Further, for the poorest
African Americans, race and class are inextricably linked and
function as a structural barrier to accessing wealth, resources,
and opportunities. The results have been a reproduction of the
economic disparities that have historically plagued New Orleans.
This ends the special issue contents.
TOWARDS A PRACTICE-BASED MODEL FOR
COMMUNITY PRACTICE: LINKING THEORY AND
Amnon Boehm and Ram A. Cnaan
Careful examination of the literature of community practice
shows that existing community practice models do not adequately
respond to the unique and changing needs of various
communities. This article provides an alternative model
that challenges the existing models. Based on extensive content
analysis of the literature and practice knowledge, this alternative
model offers sufficient flexibility to adapt to any particular
community. The model is also participatory, process-oriented,
and reflective. Herein we first review existing models, provide
criteria for assessing their applicability, then introduce the new
model, and subsequently discuss its applicability and merit.
THE CRIMINALIZATION OF IMMIGRATION: VALUE
CONFLICTS FOR THE SOCIAL WORK PROFESSION
Rich Furman, Alissa R. Ackerman, Melody Loya, Susanna
Jones, and Nalini Negi
This article examines the impact of the criminalization of immigration
on non-documented immigrants and the profession of
social work. To meet its aims, the article explores the new realities
for undocumented immigrants within the context of globalization.
It then assesses the criminal justice and homeland security
responses to undocumented immigrants, also referred to as
the criminalization of immigration. It subsequently explores the
ethical dilemmas and value discrepancies for social workers that
are implicated in some of these responses. Finally, it presents
implications for social workers and the social work profession.
Family, Kinship and State in Contemporary Europe (3 Vols.)
The Century of Welfare: Eight Countries (Vol. 1).
Hannes Grandits, Editor.
The View from Below: Nineteen Localities (Vol. 2).
Patrick Heady and Peter Schweitzer, Editors.
Perspectives on Theory and Policy (Vol. 3).
Patrick Heady and Martin Kohli, Editors.
Reviewed by Natalia Sarkisian.
Colonialism and Welfare: Social Policy and the British Imperial
James Midgley and David Piachaud (Eds.).
Reviewed by Melinda Williams Moore.
Homelessness, Housing, and Mental Illness: Broadening our
Understanding of Wellness.
Russell K. Schutt with Stephen M. Goldfinger.
Reviewed by Geoffrey Nelson.
What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About
Capitalism: A Citizen’s Guide to Capitalism and the
Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster.
Reviewed by Paul Saba.
New Deal, New Landscape: The Civilian Conservation Corps &
South Carolina’s State Parks.
Tara Mitchel Mielnik.
Reviewed by Marguerite G. Rosenthal.
Citizenship Social Work with Older People.
Reviewed by Edward J. Gumz.