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Drawing on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in two impoverished California communities—one made up of recent immigrants from Mexico, the other of U.S.-born Chicano citizens—this book provides an invaluable comparative perspective on Latino poverty in contemporary America. In northern California’s high-tech Silicon Valley, author Daniel Dohan shows how recent immigrants get by on low-wage babysitting and dish-cleaning jobs. In the housing projects of Los Angeles, he documents how families and communities of U.S.-born Mexican Americans manage the social and economic dislocations of persistent poverty. Taking readers into worlds where public assistance, street crime, competition for low-wage jobs, and family, pride, and cross-cultural experiences intermingle, The Price of Poverty offers vivid portraits of everyday life in these Mexican American communities while addressing urgent policy questions such as: What accounts for joblessness? How can we make sense of crime in poor communities? Does welfare hurt or help?
Chapter 1 Institutions of Poverty
Chapter 2 Income Generation in the Barrios
Chapter 3 The Job Market
Chapter 4 The Experience of Low-Wage Work
Chapter 5 Networks and Work
Chapter 6 Illegal Routines
Chapter 7 The Consequences of Illegal Work
Chapter 8 Making Ends Meet
Chapter 9 Making Welfare Stigma
PART V—CONCLUSION: WORK, CRIME, AND WELFARE
Chapter 10 The Price of Poverty
Appendix Methods of this Study
Daniel Dohan is Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
“The Price of Poverty advances our understanding of how poverty is experienced in the daily lives of Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans. This fine study should be required reading not only for scholars interested in urban poverty but also for labour unions, immigrant rights groups, living-wage campaigners, and public policy officials dedicated toward improving the lives of the working poor in urban America.”—Jose M. Alamillo Labour/Le Travail
“Compelling. . . scholars interested in Latinos, urban poverty, and welfare debates will profit from Dohan’s fine study.”—Stephen Pitti Labor History
"Masterful scholarship--detailed, insightful, and original. Dohan investigates the role that immigration plays in understanding Latino poverty in the United States. He also provides a nuanced and detailed analysis of neighborhood factors that help us better understand Latino poverty and how Latino residents navigate the world of low-skill work, resources, and life in the barrio."—Abel Valenzuela Jr., co-editor of Prismatic Metropolis: Inequality in Los Angeles
"A very timely study. At a time when the Latino population is rapidly growing in the U.S., Dohan provides us with one of the best and most poignant studies of the Mexican American Barrio. Based on rich data collected in two poor Mexican-American neighborhoods, this thoughtful and interesting book will draw a lot of attention both inside and outside of academia."—William Julius Wilson, author of When Work Disappears
"With Dohan's book, we finally receive an in-depth understanding of the nuances of life inside the urban, often poor and working-class, Mexican-American communities. Urban ethnographic scholarship on the poor, dominated too long by the African-American experience for its questions, concerns and voices, now finally has a corrective and a complementary text."—Sudhir Venkatesh, author of American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto