Poverty is a serious problem in the United States, more so than commonly imagined, and more so than in other industrialized nations. Most Americans adhere to an individualistic perspective: they believe poverty is largely the result of people being deficient in intelligence, determination, education, and other personal traits. Poverty and Power, Fourth Edition challenges this viewpoint, arguing that poverty arises from the workings of four key structural systems—the economic, the political, the cultural, and the social—and ten obstacles to economic justice, including unaffordable housing, inaccessible health care, and racial and gender discrimination. The author argues that a renewed war on poverty can be successful, but only through a popular movement to bring about significant change in the workings of American economic, political, and cultural institutions.
New to this Edition
Edward Royce is professor emeritus of sociology at Rollins College, where he was a recipient of the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award. In addition to Poverty and Power, he is also the author of Classical Social Theory and Modern Society: Marx, Durkheim, Weber (2015).
1. Poverty as a Social Problem
Part I: Individualistic Theories of Poverty and Inequality
2. The Biogenetic Theory of Poverty and Inequality
3. The Cultural Theory of Poverty and Inequality
4. The Human Capital Theory of Poverty and Inequality
Part II: A Structural Perspective on Poverty—Four Systems
5. The Economic System and Poverty
6. The Political System and Poverty
7. The Cultural System and Poverty
8. The Social System and Poverty
Part III: A Structural Perspective on Poverty—Ten Obstacles
9. Structural Obstacles and the Persistence of Poverty (Part I)
10. Structural Obstacles and the Persistence of Poverty (Part II)
About the Author
I use Royce’s book Poverty and Power when teaching a sociology course focused on social class. In a clear and up-to-date manner, Royce challenges common myths about social class in the U.S., and presents data and corresponding arguments that reveal structural causes of poverty, rooted in economic, political, social, and cultural systems.
The single most comprehensive structural exploration of inequality and poverty.
Poverty and Power is an essential text for students interested in understanding the intersection of structural poverty and the unequal distribution of power in the U.S., and how the former is perpetuated by the latter.
Poverty and Poweris the best one-stop-shop I have found for helping students to understand how inadequate our understandings of poverty are in the U.S. and how central power is to fostering—and, ultimately, to addressing—poverty.
Poverty and Power is an excellent textbook that not only provides rigorous analysis of the ongoing socio-economic issues in the United States, but challenges students to think more critically at how structural and institutional norms reinforce poverty.
In light of Dobbs v. Jackson, Dr. Royce has written a supplemental essay on the ties between poverty and access to reproductive healthcare to supplement Chapter 6, “The Political System and Poverty” and Chapter 10, “Structural Obstacles and the Persistence of Poverty (II). This essay has been updated as of September 1, 2023