Tuesday, March 15, 2016



When a low-income parent gets evicted, what happens?

Matthew Desmond’s new book, Evicted, looks closely at what happens to a series of low-income people, mostly parents, in Milwaukee.  It should be required reading for anyone who works at a community college or a public school in a low-income area.

Desmond insinuated himself into the lives of dozens of people in the Milwaukee area at the onset of the Great Recession, and followed their lives closely for years.  The book is written mostly as a series of character-driven vignettes, rather than as academic sociology, though he connects the dots in passing and at the end.  

I won’t attempt to go through the whole thing; there’s just too much.  Instead, I’ll offer a few highlights that seemed particularly revealing or relevant.

Desmond’s book seemed much more careful than Alice Goffman’s “On the Run,” an ethnography of a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia that focused on police-community relations.  Goffman’s book made an enormous splash, but raised some eyebrows by its methodology and the ambiguous position of the author.  (I thought the book largely successful, but upon reading Desmond’s book, some of the criticism makes more sense.)  Desmond’s book also stood in contrast to Kathryn Edin’s “$2.00 a Day,” which examined the daily lives of some of the most precariously-resourced people in the country.  In Desmond’s book, welfare payments formed the baseline for local rents.  In Edin’s, almost nobody received welfare, or even knew anybody who did; the system had become so difficult to access that it had essentially vanished.  I don’t know to what extent the difference reflects local context, or timing, but it was hard not to notice.  I’ll defer to my sociologist colleagues to sort that one out.

Still, putting the accounts together, it’s hard to come away without a sense of urgency.  The upward mobility that community colleges live for relies on a certain basic level of material security.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to study for a Bio test when you don’t know where you’ll sleep that night.  And the transience that affects so many low-income students -- and is effectively blamed on them -- is often involuntary.  

It’s a depressing read, but a necessary one.  Highly recommended.

Hey there, You have done an great job. I'll definitely dig it always and personally recommend to my friends. This kind of blog post could not possibly be written any better! Looking through this kind of post reminds me my college essay writing.

I will definitely check this book but you have done such a great job by writing a summary of the whole book...thanks for providing all this with your great writing style!!

You are attracting comment spam ... alas!
"Traditional" welfare ended in Wisconsin in the early 1990s, when Tommy Thompson was governor, replaced by work/education requirements (among other things) that prefigured national efforts under Clinton a few years later. Given the concentration of poor, single-parent families in areas without employment or educational opportunities, the changes were predictably devastating.

And yes, the effects of homelessness and food insecurity on the ability to learn are well documented, particularly at the K-12 level. Less attention has been paid to these issues in higher education, but they are there as well. We talk about undergrad students missing school to work multiple jobs as if they do that primarily to pay tuition, but in my experience they are often supporting their younger siblings with that income. Scholarships and grants are great to pay their tuition, but they still have to work if their families are going to have food to eat and a place to live.
the blog is very useful, interesting and informative. thank you for sharing the blog with us. keep on updating.

A very nice guide. I will definitely follow these tips. Thank you for sharing such detailed article. I am learning a lot from you. Helpful as always. Every post you write produce a massive value to your readers that is the only reason it is so popular and has great authority.

Peridot Systems Chennai Reviews

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?