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Those Who Work, Those Who Don't

Those Who Work, Those Who Don't: Poverty, Morality, and Family in Rural America

Jennifer Sherman
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Those Who Work, Those Who Don't
    Book Description:

    Compellingly written, shot through with honesty and empathy, Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t is a rare firsthand account that studies the rural poor. As incomes erode and the American dream becomes more and more inaccessible, Sherman reveals that moral values and practices become a way for the poor to gain status and maintain a sense of dignity in the face of economic ruin.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7075-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface: Preserving Anonymity
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: Poverty, Morality, and Family in Rural America
    (pp. 1-24)

    In October 2003, on a bright, windy morning in the tiny mountain town of Golden Valley, California, I met Greg Smith¹ for an interview in the public park. Greg was a 42-year-old man, neatly dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans. Before I turned on the tape recorder and started the formal interview, Greg began to discuss the recent gubernatorial elections, in which California had voted to oust incumbent Democratic governor Gray Davis and replace him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Greg complained that politics were all about advertisement and selling oneself, but he commented in particular on the sexual harassment...

  6. 1 The Place I Found: An Introduction to Golden Valley
    (pp. 25-54)

    The logging was way down before the mill left. There’s a lot of different views on that and everything, but the bottom line of it is, in Jefferson County, logging was the economic base. And that base just isn’t there no more. Made it really tough, especially on a town like Golden Valley. Miner’s Gulch, you know, may be more of a tourist [town]; I mean, they do have a tourist trade. I don’t even understand how you found this place. You know, I mean, because Golden Valley just ain’t well known. (Jake Robbins, 55-year-old small-scale mill worker and married...

  7. 2 Workers and Welfare: Poverty, Coping Strategies, and Substance Abuse
    (pp. 55-100)

    As you drive south into Golden Valley on the narrow and winding Highway 7, the landscape unfolds majestically as you glide down off of Gold Mountain. The sharp, bare mountaintops give way to forests that frame the road, which then recede into the open fields and flat land of Golden Valley. The highway gradually straightens for the brief respite that Golden Valley provides from its otherwise nonstop hairpin turns. As you approach the valley floor, houses and homesteads appear. Some are lavish ranches, with large houses set back from the road amid acres of meadows. Others are dilapidated shacks surrounded...

  8. 3 Family Life: Tradition and Safety
    (pp. 101-137)

    I came from a family of seven. So yeah, I wanted [kids]. I just wanted a boy and a girl. Because, you know, you want that. I mean, that’s part of life, I guess. Like, most people have kids, you know, and lots of people that don’t have kids are schoolteachers or they’re around kids. I mean, they’re fun. (Emily Richards, 40-year-old secretary and married mother of two)

    I think everybody figures that they will have a family. (Ted Dorsey, 42-year-old small business owner and married father of two)

    One of the hardest aspects of moving to Golden Valley for...

  9. 4 Remaking Masculinity: Losing Male Breadwinners
    (pp. 138-179)

    When I first started it was fairly certain that most of your kids had a mom and a dad, got breakfast in the morning, came to school, backed by parents who thought school was important, who made sure that homework was done, who put them to bed at a reasonable hour, and then got them up the next morning and started the cycle again. Now, if you looked at my class, probably 40 percent of them are still coming with those things in place. (Cathy Graham, 50-year-old married schoolteacher)

    Some of the statements quoted in chapter 3 give the impression...

  10. Conclusion: Understanding Poverty in Rural America
    (pp. 180-198)

    This book has described in depth the roles of moral discourses in a poor rural American community in decline. It has found that morality is an ever-moving target there, with forms and meanings evolving in reaction to changing circumstances. Moral ideas and discourses can adapt to new structural and cultural conditions and can also enable social and personal adaptation to such changing conditions. In Golden Valley moral discourses and understandings have seeped in to fill the gaps left by previous forms of social distinction, including class distinctions and other types of symbolic capital. Morality has slowly become the force underlying...

  11. Appendix: General Interview Protocol for Male Respondents
    (pp. 199-202)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 203-214)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-230)
  14. Index
    (pp. 231-240)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-241)