Let me begin with words of praise. Bill Wilson's The Truly Disadvantaged is a serious and important work. In it he alerts the nation to the alarming rise of social dislocation in Black inner city communities. But rather than joining with the conservative chorus which dominates political debate about this issue, Wilson focuses on the social structure, especially joblessness, as the key to the whole network of pathologies. Black inner city joblessness is, in turn, explained by large-scale economic shifts, interacting with a legacy of past racial discrimination, as well as various demographic factors. The result is the construction of a liberal analysis that challenges the dominant conservative position, which places the blame on the welfare system and ghetto subculture. Instead, Wilson claims, the blame lies with larger, social structural forces.

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