Crisis in American Institutions

Prentice Hall
Jerome H. Skolnick / Elliott Currie  
Total pages
April 2006
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Crisis in American Institutions
14 May 2010 151.30


Crisis in American Institutions provides students with an array of engaging articles that reflect America's social problems and encourage critical thought.


  • Contains a breadth of articles that represent the best of contemporary writing on American social problems.
  • The authors are both distinguished social scientists who have written, researched, and lectured extensively in areas such as law and society, the criminal justice system, and the family.
  • An analytical first chapter introduces various approaches to the study of social problems and emphasize the growing role of institutions in America.
  • Each Part begins with a essay that frames the issues covered in the readings.

New to this Edition

  • 14 readings are new to this edition.
  • New topics include: the erosion of retirement security, the rise in debt among young adults, the limits of social mobility in the U.S., gender discrimination in the workplace, white privilege, global terrorism, police reform, racial disparities in the criminal justice system

Table of Contents

* new to this edition




Introduction: Approaches to Social Problems




Part One--Corporate Power


1.  Take the Rich Off Welfare by Mark Zepezauer*

2.  Tax Cheats and Their Enablers by Robert S. McIntyre*

3.  The Cost of Money by Mark Green

4.   Water for Profit by John Luoma


Part Two--Economic Crisis


5.   Nickel-and-Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

6.   Generation Broke by Tamara Draut and Javier Silva*

7.   Retirement's Unraveling Safety Net by Dale Russakoff*

8.   The Limits of Markets by Robert Kuttner


Part Three--Inequality


9.   Top Heavy by Edward N. Wolff

10.  Doing Poorly: The Real Income of American Children in Comparative Perspective by Lee Rainwater and Timothy M. Smeeding

11.  Day by Day: the Lives of Homeless Women by Elliot Liebow

12.  As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls by David Wessel*


Part Four--Racism


13.  The Roots of White Advantage by Michael K. Brown et al.*

14.  Schoolsand Prisons by The Sentencing  Project*

15.  At Many Colleges, the Rich Kids Get Affirmative Action by Daniel Golden

16.  Asian Americans: the Myth of the Model  Minority by Ronald Takaki


Part Five--Sexism


17.  The Conundrum of the Glass Ceiling from The Economist*

18.   Selling Women Short by Liza Featherstone*

19.  Learning Silence by Peggy Orenstein

20.  Domestica by Pierette Hondagneu-Sotelo




Part Six--The Family


21.  Families on the Fault Line by Lillian B. Rubin

22.  More Than Welcome: Families Come First in Sweden by Brittany Shahmehri

23.  Decent and Street Families by Elijah Anderson


Part Seven--The Environment      


24.  A World of Wounds by James Gustave Speth*

25.  Diamond: A Struggle for Environmental Justice in Louisiana by Steve Lerner*

26.  The Heat Is On by Ross Gelbspan


Part Eight--Work and Welfare


27.  Importing the Third Worldby David K. Shipler*

28.  The Political Economy and Urban Racial Tensions by William Julius Wilson

29.  The Underclass Label by Herbert Gans

30.  So How Did I Get Here? Growing Up on Welfare by Rosemary L. Bray


Part Nine--Health and Medical Care


31.  Sick Out of Luck  by Susan Starr Sered and Rushika Fernandopulle*

32.  Universal Health Care: What the United StatesCan Learn from the Canadian Experience by Pat Armstrong and Hugh Armstrong with Claudia Fegan, M.D

33.  The Shame of Our Nursing Homes by Eric Bates

34.  Cater to the Children by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner


Part Ten--The Schools


35.  In the Deep Heart's Core by Michael Johnston

36.  Class Conflict: the Rising Costs of College by Ellen Mutari and Melaku Lakew

37.  Reading, Writing, and…Buying? From Consumer Reports

38.  Hired Education by Jennifer Washburn*


Part Eleven--Crime and Justice


39.  The Myth of Leniency by Elliot Currie

40.  Wild Pitch: “Three Strikes You're Out” and Other Bad Calls on Crime by Jerome H. Skolnick and John J. DiIulio Jr.

41.  Workaday World, Crack Economy by Phillippe Bourgois 

42.  Unjust Rewards by Ken Silverstein


Part Twelve--Americain the World


43.  Five Wars We're Losing  by Moises Naim

44.  Blowback by Chalmers Johnson

45.  Oil, Geography, and War by Michael T. Klare

46.  What to Do? A Global Strategy Against Terrorism  by The 9/11 Commission*



Back Cover

Crisis in American Institutionsprovides students with an array of engaging articles that reflect America's social problems and encourage critical thought.  This breadth of articles encompasses a sampling of the best of contemporary writing on American social problems. An analytical introductory chapter helps emphasize the growing role of institutions in America.


Jerome Skolnick, a sociologist, currently teaches at the New York University School of Law where he is Co-Director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice. He is also Claire Clements Dean's Professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was Chair of the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He has written many books and articles and has received numerous grants, honors and awards in recognition of his research and scholarship. These include the August Vollmer award of the American Society of Criminology; awards for distinguished scholarship from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the Western Society of Criminology; the Mills award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (for Justice Without Trial); election to the honorary Sociological Research Association; and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He was Director of the Task Force on Violent Protest and Confrontation of the  National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, Washington, D.C. 1968-1969 and served as President of the American Society of Criminology from November 1993 through November 1994. In 1997, he completed a three year term as Chair of the National Academy of Science/ National Research Council's Committee on Law and Justice. In 1996 he was honored by John Jay College of Criminal Justice as their Criminal Justice Educator of the Year.


Elliott Currie is Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine. He has also taught in the Legal Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley, and in the Board of Studies in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Professor Currie is the author of many works on crime, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and social policy, including Confronting Crime (1985), Dope and Trouble: Portraits of Delinquent Youth (1991), Reckoning: Drugs, the Cities, and the American Future (1993), and Crime and Punishment in America (1998), which was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. He is a coauthor of Whitewashing Race: the Myth of a Colorblind America (2003), a finalist for the C. Wright Mills award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems in 2004 and winner of the 2004 Book Award from the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change. His most recent book is The Road to Whatever: Middle Class Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence (2005), a study of troubled middle-class youth in America. He has been a consultant to many organizations concerned with crime prevention, social policy, and the enhancement of juvenile and criminal justice, both in the United States and overseas, including the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity, the California Governor's Task Force on Civil Rights, and the Home Office of Great Britain. Professor Currie is vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, a nonprofit organization that develops and supports innovative strategies to combat inner-city crime, drug abuse, and poverty.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including both the Donald Cressey Award and the Prevention for a Safer Society (PASS) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.