Poorly Understood: What America Gets Wrong about Poverty


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.3 X 1.2 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Mark Robert Rank is currently the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on issues of poverty, inequality, and social justice. He has been the
recipient of many awards, and his research has been reported in a wide range of media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and NPR.

Lawrence M. Eppard is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Shippensburg University. His areas of research include poverty, economic inequality, and racial inequities. He has recently published the book Rugged Individualism and the Misunderstanding of American Inequality (with Rank and Bullock), and
is currently working on a book for Oxford University Press tentatively titled On Inequality and Freedom.

Heather E. Bullock is Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She also serves as the director of the Blum Center on Poverty, Social Enterprise, and Participatory Governance. Her areas of interest include the social psychological dimensions of economic inequality, as
well as identifying the attitudes and beliefs that predict support for anti-poverty policies. She has published her research across a wide range of academic journals and is the author of two award winning books.


I have often wished for a simple, accessible book that could set the record straight something not too jargon-laden, not too academic and not too preachy, the kind of book you could hand to a cynical street cop, your neighbor or your Uncle Fred, and expect that it might actually be read. In Poorly Understood: What America Gets Wrong About Poverty, Mark Robert Rank, Lawrence M. Eppard and Heather E. Bullock have produced just such a book, setting out to systematically catalogue and debunk the most widely believed myths about poverty and the poor... -- Rosa Brooks, Georgetown, The Washington Post

Poorly Understood dispels the myths that have prevented us from addressing our nation's shameful disparities in wealth and income. It should be required reading for every member of Congress. At least the ones that read. -- Al Franken, Media personality, author, and former Minnesota U.S. Senator

In clear and cogent prose backed up by solid evidence, Poorly Understood explodes the myths about poverty in 21st century America. It is not rare. It is not something that happens only to 'other people.' And the usual bromides about escaping it through hard work, education, and upward mobility no longer hold water. Poverty is more prevalent and deeper than in other industrial nations, and anyone who wants a clear-eyed analysis of why poverty persists and how it can be overcome needs to read this book. -- Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University Professor of Sociology and past President of both the American Sociological Association and the Population Association of America

This book is more than a data-driven academic exercise. Mark Rank and his co-authors are clear that there are solutions. Reading, I was reminded of my time as an organizer for welfare rights when we chanted 'Adequate Income Now!' and 'Mas Dinero Ahora!' Their final argument is the need to organize to make the change. It has certainly been my life's work, and I hope there are many that heed their call! -- Wade Rathke, Founder of ACORN International

Poorly Understood presents essential evidence that will make it much harder for people to ignore poverty as it actually is, rather than as they think or hope it is. If truth matters, this book should have a powerful impact on the politics and policy of a crucially important issue. -- Jennifer Hochschild, Harvard University Professor of Government and Former President of the American Political Science Association

The American dream is that if you work hard you will get what you deserve. No book lays this myth to rest more clearly and persuasively than Poorly Understood. Sixty percent of Americans will live below the official poverty line for at least one year of their lives, one of dozens of points that will make you rethink poverty in America. And Americans must rethink poverty. -- Jeff Madrick, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation and author of Invisible Americans: The Tragedy of Child Poverty

Why do we have so much poverty in America? Mark Rank and his colleagues tell us why. Read their book and you'll know the answer. -- Peter Edelman, Georgetown University Professor of Law and former Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation