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The Shifting Social and Economic Tides of Black America, 1950-1980

The Shifting Social and Economic Tides of Black America, 1950-1980 This article examines significant demographic trends that illustrate the ad­ vances of many black Americans from 1954 to 1 984. We also examine trends which indicate deterioration in the socioeconomic circumstances and life chances of a significant portion of the black population. The two competing trends in the status of black Americans (at one extreme an emerging black elite, at the other a growing black underclass) have been central in provocative debates about economics and race over the past decade. This article locates the debate in historical context, summarizing the work of early theorists on this issue. The article then uses US Census data to document changes from 1 950- 1 980 in occupational distribution, labor force participation, educlltional attain­ ment, income and earnings, fertility and mortality rates, and family organiza­ tional patterns for black and whites. Using the political economy perspective, we argue that race and economic status are inexorably linked in this society. Shifts in the society'S economic base coupled with historical (and contempo­ rary) patterns of racial oppression explain the disproportionate concentration of blacks in the underclass. Sociologists are challenged to analyze the nexus of race and economics in America using early theoretical models and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Annual Review of Sociology Annual Reviews

The Shifting Social and Economic Tides of Black America, 1950-1980

Annual Review of Sociology , Volume 12 (1) – Aug 1, 1986

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Publisher
Annual Reviews
Copyright
Copyright 1986 Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
Subject
Review Articles
ISSN
0360-0572
eISSN
1545-2115
DOI
10.1146/annurev.so.12.080186.001425
pmid
12314446
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines significant demographic trends that illustrate the ad­ vances of many black Americans from 1954 to 1 984. We also examine trends which indicate deterioration in the socioeconomic circumstances and life chances of a significant portion of the black population. The two competing trends in the status of black Americans (at one extreme an emerging black elite, at the other a growing black underclass) have been central in provocative debates about economics and race over the past decade. This article locates the debate in historical context, summarizing the work of early theorists on this issue. The article then uses US Census data to document changes from 1 950- 1 980 in occupational distribution, labor force participation, educlltional attain­ ment, income and earnings, fertility and mortality rates, and family organiza­ tional patterns for black and whites. Using the political economy perspective, we argue that race and economic status are inexorably linked in this society. Shifts in the society'S economic base coupled with historical (and contempo­ rary) patterns of racial oppression explain the disproportionate concentration of blacks in the underclass. Sociologists are challenged to analyze the nexus of race and economics in America using early theoretical models and

Journal

Annual Review of SociologyAnnual Reviews

Published: Aug 1, 1986

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