Syllabus 2008

Submitted by Kristin Bumiller

States of Poverty

Political Science/Women’s and Gender Studies 85

Spring 2008

Professor Kristin Bumiller

Office: 308 Cooper House

Phone: 542-5804


Office Hours: Tuesday 10-12




            In this course students will examine the role of the modern welfare state in people’s everyday lives. We will study the historical growth and retrenchment of the modern welfare state in the United States and other Western democracies. The course will critically examine the ideologies of “dependency” and the role of the state as an agent of social control. We will analyze the construction of social problems linked to states of poverty, including hunger, homelessness, health care, disability, discrimination and violence. We will ask how conditions of poverty are defined in terms of their affect on the lives of women and children. These issues will be considered by taking a broad view of the welfare state beyond the impact of public assistance and social service programs, to the role of the police, family courts, therapeutic professionals, and schools in creating and responding to the conditions of impoverishment.




            The following books are available for purchase at the Amherst Bookshop.


Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor

Ruth Lister, Poverty: Key Concepts

Katherine Newman, Chutes and Ladders: Navigation the Low Wage Labor Market

Elaine Gonnerman, Life on the Outside


            The books are expensive, so please note that all books are also available on reserve in the Library. Photocopies of other materials are available for purchase in the Political Science Department office in Clark House.




            This course is a research seminar and it fulfills the Political Science departmental requirement of a seminar to be taken during the junior or senior year.


            The work of the seminar will culminate in the production of a research paper (20 pages). Students will be expected to conduct independent library research, field research, and/or participate in community work for their projects.


            Each student will be assigned to a topic listed under Part III (The Poverty Research Agenda). The “topic area” will become both the focus of your class presentation and research paper. This process will begin by groups of students (assigned to the same topic) producing a more extensive bibliography and suggestions for additional class readings (by March 1). A five-page assignment is also due March 1 in which students will be asked to access the research issues and define important directions for new scholarship. In addition, students will be required to provide an outline of their final research paper by March 13 and a rough draft by April 24.

The final paper is due May 11. I will not accept final papers if I have not received a rough draft prior to the last day of classes.


            During the semester, we will exchange our work-in-progress with each other. I hope to create an atmosphere in which we all generously offer suggestions for improvement and enrichment of our independent projects. In other to further this process, during the semester I will be producing a paper on the topic poverty and criminalization of communities and I will also share my work-in-progress and complete assignments by the due dates.


If you are unable to attend class, please notify the Professor via e-mail. If students are unable to attend the seminar during any week of the semester they are required to submit a one page commentary on the readings.


During the final two weeks students will be asked to make short presentations summarizing the results of their research projects.






January 29

Poverty in Our Community


Guest Speaker: Western Massachusetts Labor Action


February 5

States of Poverty


Elaine Gonnerman, Life on the Outside





February 12

Conceptualizing Poverty


Ruth Lister, Poverty: Key Concepts (entire)


See also, IPC Journal, “Poverty in Focus: What is Poverty? Concepts and Measures”

Available online as PDF at:


February 19

The Ideology of Poverty Scholarship


Alice O’ Connor, Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History, Chapter 10, 242-283.


Charles Murray, “And Now For the Bad News,” Society, November 1999, v. 37, p. 13


Linda Gordon and Nancy Fraser, “The Genealogy of Dependency,” in Nancy Fraser,                                     Justice Interruptus, pp. 121-149.  


Dalton Conley, Wealth and Poverty in America, chapters by C. Wright Mills, David Brooks, and Michael Katz




February 26

Global Inequality


Saskia Sassen, “Local Actors in Global Politics,” Current Sociology, Vol. 52(4), July 2004, pp. 649-670.


Douglas S. Massey, “The Age of Extremes: Concentrated Affluence and Poverty in the                                     Twenty First Century,” Demography, November 1996, pp. 395-425 (including                                     commentaries by other authors).


Amartya Sen, “Poor, Relatively Speaking,”


Boaventura De Sousa Santos, “Future of the World Social Forum: The Work of Translation

Development, Volume 48, Number 2, June 2005


Emma Aisbett, “Why are the Critics So Convinced that Globalization Is Bad for the Poor? In Ann Harrison, ed. Globalization and Poverty, 2007


See also UNICEF International Poverty Forum 2006 at


Where the Poor Are: An Atlas of Poverty at










March 4

Welfare Systems

Suggested Reading:


Joel F. Handler and Yeheskel Hasenfeld, Blame Welfare, Ignore Poverty and Inequality, 2007


Randy Albelda and Ann Withorn, editors, Lost Ground: Welfare Reform, Poverty, and Beyond


Gwendolyn Mink and Rickie Solinger, editors, Welfare: A Documentary History of U.S. Policy and Politics, 2003.


Linda Gordon, Pitied But Not Entitled,


Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Idea of Poverty, pp. 3-19, 307-370.


Michael B. Katz, “Reframing the Underclass Debate,” in A New Introduction to Poverty,                         pp. 59-74.


David Harvey and Michael Reed, “The Culture of Poverty Paradox”


Murray Edelman, Political Language, pp. 23-41


Hugh Helco, “Poverty Politics,” in Confronting Poverty, Sheldon Danzinger, et al., eds.,                                     pp. 396-437.


Valerie Polakow,  “The Shredded Net: The End of Welfare As We Know It” in A New Introduction to Poverty, pp. 167-184.


Lane Kenworthy,  “Do Social-Welfare Policies Reduce Poverty?  A Cross-national Assessment?” Social Forces, March 1999, v. 77, p. 1119.


Julia Szalai, “Power and Poverty, The Future of the Welfare State: East and West,” Social Research, Winter 1997, v. 64, p. 1403.


Ruth Levitas, The Inclusive Society? Social Exclusion and the New Labour, pp. 1-28, 89-111



March 11

Health and Poverty


Suggested Reading:


Paul Framer,

 Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor


Social Medicine, Special Issue 2006 at


Health Disparities & the Body Politic: A Series of International Symposia at


David Shipler, The Working Poor, Chapter 2


Richard Hofrichter, Health and Social Justice: Politics, Ideology, and Inequity in the Distribution of Disease, 2003.


Sudhir Anand, Fabienne Peter and Amartya Sen, editors, Public Health, Ethics, and Equity

Oxford University Press, 2006


Cathy Cohen, The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics, University of Chicago Press, 1998, Chapters 3, 5, and 8.


Nancy Schepper-Hughes, Death Without Weeping, pp. 167-215, 268-399


Larry J. Brown and Ernesto Poliitt, “Malnutrition, Poverty, and Intellectual             Development,” Scientific American, February 1996, pp. 38-43.


Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation


Paul Framer, Infections and Inequalities


Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the Aids Epidemic, New York: Penguin, 1987.



March 25

Marginalized Communities


Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor, entire


Suggested Reading:


Sandra Susan Smith, Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism Among the Black Poor, 2007.


Todd Clear, Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Communities Worse, 2007.


Fernandez, Roberto M. and Fernandez-Mateo, Isabel, “Networks, Race, and Hiring.”
 American Sociological Review
, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 42, Feb 2006

Gail L. Thompson, We didn't come here to be Poor: The Pre- and Post-Migration experiences of Young Immigrant


Rodríguez, Tomás D., “Oppositional Culture and Academic Performance among Children of Immigrants in the USA.” Race, Ethnicity & Education, Jul2002, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p199-215,


Mae M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America


Anthony Giddens and Patrick Diamond, The New Egalitarianism


Dalton Conley, Being Black: Living in the Red: Race, Wealth and Social Policy in America


Lani Guiner and Gerald Torres, The Miner’s Canary, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.


Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, pp. 1-21, 332-400.


Tocqueville, Alexis, “Memoir on Pauperism”


Doreen Mattingly,  “Maid in the USA,” The New Internationalist, September 1998, pp.            



April 1

Women and Children

Suggested Reading:


Greg Duncan, Higher Ground: New Hope for the Working Poor and their Children, 2007


Jody Raphael, Freeing Tammy: Women, Drugs and Incarceration. 2007/


Lisa Dodson, Don’t Call Us Out of Name


Alexandra Murphy and Sudhir Venkatesh, “Vice Careers: The Changing Contours of Sex Work in New York City. Qualitative Sociology; Summer2006, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p129-154


Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “What will it Take to End Child Poverty?” at


Christina Rathbone, A World Apart: Women, Prison, and Life Behind Bars, 2005


Nancy Hirschmann and Ulrike Liebert, editors, Women and Welfare: Theory and Practice in the United States and Europe, 2001


Jason DeParle, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare, 2004


Seth Koven, Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London, 2004


Iris Marion Young, “The Logic of Masculinist Protection: Reflections on the Current Security State,“ Signs, Autumn 2003


Jacob A. Riss, Children of the Poor, pp. 1-9 and 129-141.


Seth Koven, “Dr. Barnardo’s ‘Artistic Fictions’: Photography, Sexuality, and the Ragged                                     Child in Victorian London,” Radical History Review, Vol 69, 1997, pp. 6-45.                                     (M)


Jim Goldberg, Raised by Wolves


Juliete M. Campos Monterio and Stephen J. Dollinger, “An Autophotographic Study of Poverty, Collective Orientation, and Identity Among Street Children,” The Journal of Social Psychology, June 1998, v. 138, pp. 403-7.


Marguerite Duras, Summer Rain


Wendy Mink, “From Welfare to Wedlock: Marriage Promotion and Poor Mothers’ Inequality,” in Fundamental Differences, Burack and Josephson, eds., 2003


Dorothy Roberts,  Killing the Black Body, pp. 3-21.


Sharon Hays, Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform,


Jackie Goode, et al. Purse or Wallet: Gender Inequalities and Income with Families on Benefits, pp. 1-7, 35-98.


Dorothy Allison, Bastard out of Carolina



April 8

Working Poor


Katherine Newman, Chutes and Ladders: Navigation the Low Wage Labor Market


Suggested Reading:


Kaherine Newman and Victor Tan Chen, The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America, 2007


Stephanie Luce, Fighting for the Living Wage (entire)


Zygmunt Bauman, Work, Consumerism, and the New Poor


Frank Munger, Laboring Below the Line: The New Ethnography of Poverty, Low-Wage

Work, and Survival in the Global Economy, selections


Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina


Dwight B. Billings and Kathleen M. Blee, The Road to Poverty


Cynthia M. Duncan, Worlds Apart: Why Poverty Persists in Rural America, 1999.



April 15

World and Regional Study of Poverty


Suggested Reading:


Ann Harrison, ed. Globalization and Poverty, 2007


Abhijiy Vinayak Banerjee, et sl. Understanding Poverty, 2006.


Kees Koonings and Dirk Kruijt, Fractured Cities: Social Exclusion, Urban Violence and Contested Spaces in Latin America


Saskia Sassen, “Deconstructing Labor Demand in Today’s Advanced Economics,” in Frank

           Munger, editor, Laboring Below the Line


Loic Wacquant, “Toward a Dictatorship Over the Poor: Notes on the Penalization of Poverty in Brazil,” Punishment and Society, Vol. 5, 2003-4.


Saskia Sassen, “Citizenship Destabilized,” Liberal Education, Spring 2003, pp 14-21.


Branko Milanovic, Worlds Apart: Measuring International and Global Inequality


Robin Broad, ed., Global Backlash: Citizen Initiatives for a Just World Economy, Lanham: Rowland & Littlefield, 2002.


Mike Prokosch and Laura Raymond, eds., The Global Activist’s Manual: Local Ways to Change the World, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002.


Benjamin Shepard and Ronald Hayduk, From Act Up to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization, London: Verso Press, 2002, pp. 1-9, 74-80, 342-350, 360-369.


Naomi Klein, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, pp. 366-79.



Phyllis Bennis, Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN are Defying US Power, Olive Branch Press, 2005.


Notes from Nowhere, Editor, We are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism, London: Verso Press, 2003.


Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999.


Tom Mertes, Editor, A Movement of Movements: Is Another World Really Possible? London: Verso Press, 2003.


Michael Albert, The Trajectory of Change: Activist Strategies for Social Transformation, Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2002.


Jeremy Brecher, et al., Globalization From Below: The Power of Solidarity, Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2000.


Stanley Aronowitz and Heather Gautney, Implicating Empire: Globalization and Resistance in the 21st Century World Order, New York: Basic Books, 2003.


Carl Boggs, Masters of War: Militarism and Blowback in the Era of American Empire, New York: Routledge, 2002.


Betsy Reed, Nothing Sacred: Women Respond to Religious Fundamentalism and Terror, New York: Nation Books, 2002.


Kim Moody, Workers in a Lean World,  London, Verso, 1997.


Nancy Naples and Manisha Desai, editors, Women’s Activism and Globalization Linking Local Struggles and Transnational Politics, (New York: Routledge, 2002)

Farida Shaheed, “Controlled or Autonomous: Identity and Experience of the Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws” Signs


Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2004 and Power Politics, Cambridge, MS: South End Press, 2001.


Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity

April 22

Social Movements

Suggested Reading:


Poverty Outlaws” (Documentary on the Kensington Welfare Rights Activists)


Francis Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Poor People’s Movements


Frances Fox Piven, The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush’s Militarism, New York: The New Press, 2004, pp. 1-63.


Premilla Nadasen, “Expanding the Boundaries of the Women’s Movement: Black Feminism and the Struggle for Welfare Rights,” Feminist Studies, 2002


Mimi Abramovitz, “Fighting Back: From the Legislature to the Academy to the Streets,”                         in A New Introduction to Poverty, pp. 217-240.


Francis Fox Piven, “Welfare Movement Rises,” The Nation, May 8, 2000, v. 270.


Nancy Fraser, Justice Interruptus, pp. 1-66, 173-188.


Douglas Imig, Poverty and Power: The Political Representation of Poor Americans


Peter Marcuse, “Not Chaos, but Walls: Postmodernism and the Partitioned City” in                         Postmodern Cities and Spaces, pp. 243-253.


Joel Schwartz, “Learning from the Past,” The Public Interest, Spring 1998.


Cornel West and Roberto Unger, The Future of American Progressivism, Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.


Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism, pp. 1-23.


Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life, Norman: Oklahoma University Press, 2003.


Mark Warren, Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.


Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright, Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance, New York: Verso, 2003.


David Harvey, Spaces of Hope, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.


Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, New York: Randon House, 1971.


William H. Simon, “Lawyering for a New Democracy: The Community Economic Development Movement,” Wisconsin Law Review, 2002.


Laura R. Woliver, “Mobilizing and Sustaining Grassroots Dissent, “Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 52, No. 1. 1996, pp. 139-51.


Robert Putman et al., Editors, Better Together: Restoring American Community, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.


Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists beyond Borders, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998.


Mahatma Gandhi, Autobiography, Boston: Beacon Press, 1957.


James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.


Aldon Morris, The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing For Change, New York: Free Press, 1984.


Ralph Reed, Politically Incorrect: The Emerging Faith Factor in American Politics, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994.


Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, Faithful and Fearless: Moving Feminist Protest Inside the Church and the Military, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.


David Meyer and Sidney Tarrow eds., The Social Movement Society: Contentious Politics for a New Century, (Rowman and Littlefield, 1998).


Hilary Wainwright, Reclaim the State: Experiments in Popular Democracy, London: Verso, 2003.


Amrita Basu, The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women’s Movements in Global Perspective, (Westview Press, 1995)


April 29 and May 6

Final Project Presentations