Penn State

Dawn Witherspoon - Associate Professor of Psychology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy

Author: William Julius Wilson

Book Description:

As an undergraduate, I became very interested in understanding how context influenced behavior. This fascination grew because I moved from a rural area to an urban area for college. In graduate school, I was able to explore this area by delving into neighborhood research. One of my mentors suggested that I read William Julius Wilson’s work. I started with The Truly Disadvantaged and continued with his other works. The Truly Disadvantaged shows and explains very clearly the intersection of race and poverty in urban areas in the U.S. and offers suggestions for policy changes and interventions. Wilson’s book challenged some of my ideas and reinforced others, all the while helping me become a more critical consumer of scholarship focused on cultural and contextual influences on behavior. This sociologist’s account enhanced and expanded my thinking as a psychologist.

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