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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98401 Find in a Library
Title: Growing Up Poor
Author(s): T M Williams; W Kornblum
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 148
Sponsoring Agency: D C Heath and Co
Lexington, MA 02173
Sale Source: D C Heath and Co
125 Spring Street
Lexington, MA 02173
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This ethnographic study examines the general sociology of teenagers who are growing up under extremely difficult economic and social conditions and is an outgrowth of interviews with some 900 youths in New York City; Louisville; Cleveland; and Meridian, Miss.
Abstract: It seeks to understand how racial and ethnic segregation, both as an ecological fact and as a cultural norm, influences the ability of youth to seek jobs outside their own residential areas. The role of local community institutions, especially schools, voluntary civic associations, churches, political associations, federally sponsored programs, and small-scale institutions is examined to see how they facilitate or impede the entry of disadvantaged youth into the labor market. Since the meaning of growing up poor may be quite different from community to community, differences are referred to by the term community ecology. In addition, macrosocial, or changes in the kinds of jobs and income opportunities available in our society are experienced quite differently from community to community. Based on the teenagers' own accounts, the book describes their experiences with working and seeking work, achievements in school and athletics, family life, and the positive influences of their peers and adult mentors. It also details the negative choices that tend to make poverty a life sentence. Case studies illustrate 'superkids' as well as youths who submit to gang activity and peer pressure to become hustlers and delinquents. Young people who do well despite their disadvantages have been sheltered from street life, usually by adults: parents, educators, and community leaders who volunteer to work with youth in local associations. The cash or underground economy of poor communities creates a wide range of sheltering experiences for adolescents and may provide at least some income, a sense of self-worth, and perhaps some marketable skills that can be used to gain more regular employment. Many youths, however, enter illegal hustles. For the girls, these hustles include prostitution, shoplifting, and minor drug dealing. For the boys, they include drug dealing, number running, automobile theft, and extortion. It is suggested that solutions for the problem of youth unemployment, alienation, and dependency are available.
Index Term(s): Adolescent attitudes; Economic influences; Poverty and crime; Youth employment
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