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What if the idealized image of American societya land of opportunity that will reward hard work with economic successis completely wrong? Few topics have as many myths, stereotypes, and misperceptions surrounding them as that of poverty in America. The poor have been badly misunderstood since the beginnings of the country, with the rhetoric only ratcheting up in recent times. Our current era of fake news, alternative facts, and media partisanship has led to a breeding ground for all types of myths and misinformation to gain traction and legitimacy. Poorly Understood is the first book to systematically address and confront many of the most widespread myths pertaining to poverty. Mark Robert Rank, Lawrence M. Eppard, and Heather E. Bullock powerfully demonstrate that the realities of poverty are much different than the myths; indeed in many ways they are more disturbing. The idealized image of American society is one of abundant opportunities, with hard work being rewarded by economic prosperity. But what if this picture is wrong? What if poverty is an experience that touches the majority of Americans? What if hard work does not necessarily lead to economic well-being? What if the reasons for poverty are largely beyond the control of individuals? And if all of the evidence necessary to disprove these myths has been readily available for years, why do they remain so stubbornly pervasive? These are much more disturbing realities to consider because they call into question the very core of America's identity. Armed with the latest research, Poorly Understood not only challenges the myths of poverty and inequality, but it explains why these myths continue to exist, providing an innovative blueprint for how the nation can move forward to effectively alleviate American poverty.
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.