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In the Barrios

In the Barrios: Latinos and the Underclass Debate

Joan Moore
Raquel Pinderhughes
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610448376
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  • Book Info
    In the Barrios
    Book Description:

    The image of the "underclass," framed by persistent poverty, long-term joblessness, school dropout, teenage pregnancy, and drug use, has become synonymous with urban poverty. But does this image tell us enough about how the diverse minorities among the urban poor actually experience and cope with poverty? No, say the contributors toIn the Barrios. Their portraits of eight Latino communities-in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Albuquerque, Laredo, and Tucson-reveal a far more complex reality.

    In the Barriosresponds directly to current debates on the origins of the "underclass" and depicts the cultural, demographic, and historical forces that have shaped poor Latino communities. These neighborhoods share many hardships, yet they manifest no "typical" form of poverty. Instead, each group adapts its own cultural and social resources to the difficult economic circumstances of American urban life. The editors point to continued immigration as an issue of overriding importance in understanding urban Latino poverty. Newcomers to concentrated Latino areas build a local economy that provides affordable amenities and promotes ethnic institutional development. In many of these neighborhoods, a network of emotional as well as economic support extends across families and borders.

    The first major assessment of inner-city Latino communities in the United States,In the Barrioswill change the way we approach the current debate on urban poverty, immigration, and the underclass.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-837-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Joan Moore and Raquel Pinderhughes
  4. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xl)
    Joan Moore and Raquel Pinderhughes

    This book began to take shape in 1987, after the publication ofThe Truly Disadvantaged, William Julius Wilson’s seminal work on persistent, concentrated poverty in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. In that book, Wilson used the term “underclass” to refer to the new face of poverty, and traced its origins to economic restructuring. He emphasized the impact of persistent, concentrated poverty not only on individuals but on communities.

    This volume is one response to Wilson’s new paradigm. It emerged out of a series of discussions among scholars who have been engaged for many years in in-depth research in poor Latino communities. We...

  6. 1 PUERTO RICANS IN SUNSET PARK, BROOKLYN: POVERTY AMIDST ETHNIC AND ECONOMIC DIVERSITY
    (pp. 1-26)
    Mercer L. Sullivan

    Recent discussions of poverty among cultural minorities in the United States have focused primarily on African Americans. The perennial issue of the causal relationships between poverty and the behavioral deviance so often associated with poverty has again become controversial. Yet, Puerto Ricans in New York City are among the poorest groups of people in the United States—poorer than other Latino groups and also poorer than African Americans in the city or nationally. This chapter looks at the social and behavioral correlates of poverty among Puerto Ricans living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

    It has now been fully a generation since...

  7. 2 BARRIOS IN TRANSITION
    (pp. 27-50)
    Joan Moore and James Diego Vigil

    Los Angeles has long been the Chicano “capital” of the United States, housing more people of Mexican descent than most cities in Mexico. Many of Los Angeles’ Chicanos are poor, and virtually all of Los Angeles’ increase in poverty between 1969 and 1985 was because poor Latinos increased by more than half a million (Ong 1988). Los Angeles, then, is a good place to see how well arguments that are derived from experiences with other minorities and economic structures in other parts of the country actually help explain Chicano poverty.

    This chapter will focus on change in four separate Chicano...

  8. 3 CENTRAL AMERICANS IN LOS ANGELES: AN IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY IN TRANSITION
    (pp. 51-78)
    Norma Chinchilla, Nora Hamilton and James Loucky

    During the 1980s Southern California, and specifically Los Angeles, became known as a major growth center in the United States and U.S. capital of the Pacific Rim. Among the factors allegedly contributing to Los Angeles’ growth were its diversification and flexibility in shifting from declining industries in traditional manufacturing to expanding industries in both nondurable consumer products and high-tech industries, and particularly to services related to international trade—wholesaling, shipping, banking, and insurance (The Economist, 1988–1989; Anderson 1989).¹ At the same time, the region concentrates, in a limited geographic space, most of the contradictions of late twentieth-century capitalism, with...

  9. 4 CUBANS IN MIAMI
    (pp. 79-100)
    Alex Stepick III and Guillermo Grenier

    Cubans are different. Just ask them. Miami Cubans commonly assert that they have “made Miami what it is today” through their hard work and “Cuban ingenuity”. Indeed, Miami is the only U.S. city where Hispanic immigrants have managed to create a successful and self-sustained ethnic economy in which the primary problems are not unemployment and welfare but sources of capital and expanding markets. Cubans are undeniably the most successful Hispanics in the United States and apparently do not belong in a book addressing Hispanic poverty. Cubans are important to the issues of this volume, however, for two reasons: (1) not...

  10. 5 ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING AND LATINO GROWTH IN HOUSTON
    (pp. 101-128)
    Nestor P. Rodriguez

    Houston underwent considerable economic and social change in the 1980s. Much of the economic change resulted from a 1982–1987 recession in the Houston-area economy. Prior to the recession, the manufacturing of oil-related technology, the production of petrochemicals, and the construction of office towers set the tempo of the area’s economy. After the recession, a more diversified industrial base (but still not free from oil) with a bigger service sector emerged as the economic structure of the area.

    Immigration and the subsequent growth of new ethnic and racial communities were at the core of the area’s substantial social change in...

  11. 6 THE QUEST FOR COMMUNITY: PUERTO RICANS IN CHICAGO
    (pp. 129-148)
    Felix M. Padilla

    As in other cities and regions of the United States, the Latino population in Chicago has increased dramatically over the last thirty years. While 110,000 Latinos were counted in Chicago in 1960 (2.8 percent of the total population), by 1980 their number was estimated at 422,063 (or 14 percent of the city’s total population) (U.S. Census Bureau 1983). In the mid-1980s Chicago’s Department of Planning estimated that by 1990 Latinos would number 615,513 (or 20.3 percent of the city’s total population). The same report also projected an additional 5 percent increase in population growth among Latinos by the year 2000,...

  12. 7 HISTORICAL POVERTY, RESTRUCTURING EFFECTS, AND INTEGRATIVE TIES: MEXICAN AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOODS IN A PERIPHERAL SUNBELT ECONOMY
    (pp. 149-172)
    Phillip B. Gonzales

    Since the mid-1970s, the term “underclass” has been used in a variety of ways to characterize those most severely affected by poverty in the United States. William J. Wilson used it in his structural explanation of severe inner-city conditions (Wilson 1987, 1990).¹ Mexican Americans have always been beset by serious poverty and recently have also been affected by national trends in poverty formation, such as a rise in female-headed households. Some researchers have thus asked if Wilson’s analysis of ghetto poverty is appropriate to the conditions of Mexican American poverty.

    Those researchers who use statistical aggregate data tend to reject...

  13. 8 PERSISTENT POVERTY, CRIME, AND DRUGS: U.S.–MEXICAN BORDER REGION
    (pp. 173-194)
    Avelardo Valdez

    The highest indicators of poverty in the United States are along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The scarcity of institutional resources and economic development, relative to other areas of the state, is attributed to the fact that this area is identified as a Mexican American region. Social mobility is, nonetheless, possible for a small proportion of Mexican Americans whose class interests often conflict with the majority of this population. The interests of these Mexican Americans usually coincide with those of the dominant Anglos. As a result, most Mexican Americans occupy a subordinate status based on ethnicity and class. Recent...

  14. 9 U.S. MEXICANS IN THE BORDERLANDS: BEING POOR WITHOUT THE UNDERCLASS
    (pp. 195-220)
    Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez

    A recent U.S. Government Accounting Office report stated that the term “underclass” usually refers to “people who are predominantly black [sic] or Hispanic.”¹ It is unfortunate that such general statements strongly contribute to a mistaken application of this concept to U.S. Mexicans² in the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands region. The cultural and economic region of the Borderlands embraces a 2000-mile political border and 52 million persons living in ten Mexican and U.S. border states. The region includes the immediate border cities and population centers but also rural and urban centers affected by the border economy in agriculture, trade, services, manufacturing, and...

  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 221-242)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 243-252)