- William Julius Wilson
William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at
Harvard University. He is one of only 19 University Professors, the highest professional distinction for a Harvard faculty member. After receiving the Ph.D.from Washington State Universityin 1966, Wilson taught sociologyat the University of Massachusettsat Amherst, before joining the University of Chicagofaculty in 1972. In 1990 he was appointed the Lucy Flower University Professor and director of the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. He joined the faculty at Harvard in July 1996.
Wilson was an original board member of the progressive
Past President of the
American Sociological Association, Wilson has received 41 honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates from Princeton University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, Dartmouth College, and the University of Amsterdamin the Netherlands. A MacArthur Prize Fellowfrom 1987 to 1992, Wilson has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Philosophical Society, the Institute of Medicine, and the British Academy. In June 1996 he was selected by Time magazineas one of America's 25 Most Influential People. He is a recipient of the 1998 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States, and was awarded the Talcott Parsons Prizein the Social Sciences by the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesin 2003.
Other honors granted to Wilson include the
Seidman Awardin Political Economy (the first and only noneconomist to receive the Award); the Golden Plate Achievement Award; the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State University; the American Sociological Association's Dubois, Johnson, Frazier Award (for significant scholarship in the field of inter-group relations); the American Sociological Association's Award for Public Understanding of Sociology; Burton Gordon Feldman Award ("for outstanding contributions in the field of public policy") Brandeis University; and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award (granted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Los Angeles).
Professor Wilson is a member of numerous national boards and commissions, and was previously the Chair of the Board of The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and of the Russell Sage Foundation.
He is the author of numerous publications, including The "Declining Significance of Race", winner of the American Sociological Association's
Sydney Spivack Award; "The Truly Disadvantaged", which was selected by the editors of the New York TimesBook Review as one of the 16 best books of 1987, and received The Washington Monthly Annual Book Award and the Society for the Study of Social Problems' C. Wright Mills Award; "When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor", which was selected as one of the notable books of 1996 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review and received the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award; and "The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics". Most recently he is the co-author of "There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America" and "Good Kids in Bad Neighborhoods: Successful Development in Social Context".
In "The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions" (1978) Wilson argues that the significance of race is waning, and an African-American's class is comparatively more important in determining his or her life chances. In "The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy" (1987), Wilson was one of the first to enunciate at length the "
spatial mismatch" theory for the development of a ghetto underclass. As industrial jobs disappeared in cities in the wake of global economic restructuring, and hence urban unemploymentincreased, women found it unwise to marry the fathers of their children, since the fathers would not be breadwinners. In "the Truly Disadvantaged" Wilson also argued against Charles Murray's theory of welfare causing poverty.
Criticism of his work
A revision of Wilson's theories was postulated in "Still the Promised City" by Roger Waldinger, a professor of Sociology at the
University of Californiain Los Angeles. Waldinger noticed that other minorities do much better than African-Americans, and suggested that second and third -generation northern African-Americans are hampered by overhigh salary expectations, and the inability to find an economic niche. [http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.cgi?path=19602881261265]
Stephen Steinberg and Adolph Reed have criticized Wilson for his apparent "culture of poverty" approach which, they argue, amounts to blaming racial inequality on the victims themselves.
When Work Disappears
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Wilson, William Julius — born Dec. 20, 1935, Derry Township, Pa., U.S. U.S. sociologist. He spent 24 years on the University of Chicago faculty before moving to Harvard University in 1996. In The Declining Significance of Race (1978) and The Truly Disadvantaged (1987) he … Universalium
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