Many Americans believe that people are poor because of individual failings, such as lack of skills or work ethic. Poverty and Power challenges this view, showing that American poverty instead is a structural problem, resulting from failings of our political, economic, cultural, and social systems. The book examines the social forces and institutional problems that contribute to growing inequality and the persistence of poverty in the United States. Throughout the book, the author compares individualistic and structural approaches and makes a case that a structural perspective on American poverty is the best explanation of the persistent inequalities and disparities that hold back progress and advancement for the country.
The fourth edition features new material throughout, including discussions of how poverty intersects with race, ethnicity, and gender; the divisive, growing political and cultural polarization in the country and its impacts on structural poverty; the exacerbating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on structural poverty; and the role of social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter and the backlash of white nationalism as they relate to structural poverty.
Edward Royce is professor emeritus of sociology at Rollins College where he was a recipient of the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award. He is the author of The Origins of Southern Sharecropping and Classical Social Theory and Modern Society.
Preface to the third editionAcknowledgments1. Poverty as a Social ProblemPart I: Individualistic Theories of Poverty and Inequality2. The Biogenetic Theory of Poverty and Inequality3. The Cultural Theory of Poverty and Inequality4. The Human Capital Theory of Poverty and InequalityPart II: A Structural Perspective on Poverty—Four Systems5. The Economic System and Poverty6. The Political System and Poverty7. The Cultural System and Poverty8. The Social System and PovertyPart III: A Structural Perspective on Poverty—Ten Obstacles9. Structural Obstacles and the Persistence of Poverty (Part I)10. Structural Obstacles and the Persistence of Poverty (Part II)11. ConclusionAppendix: The Individualistic Perspective and the Structural PerspectiveNotesSelected BibliographyIndexAbout the author