Thomas Shapiro

Last updated
Thomas M. Shapiro
Shapriohorizontal.jpg
Born (1947-04-24) April 24, 1947 (age 74)
Los Angeles, California
OccupationSociologist, author
NationalityAmerican
SubjectSociology
Website
heller.brandeis.edu/faculty/guide.php?emplid=f1f37909668ee529ab0c194eecc8c89d6a589fc8

Thomas M. Shapiro (born 1947) is a professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Brandeis University and is the author The Hidden Cost of Being African American and the co-author of Black Wealth/White Wealth. Shapiro's current professional titles include the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy and the Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. The primary areas of focus for Shapiro's research and publications are racial inequality and public policy. [1]

Contents

Early life and education

Thomas M. Shapiro was born in Los Angeles, California on April 24, 1947. He received his B.A. Degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1969. Shapiro went on to receive both his M.A. degree (1971) and PhD (1978) from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. [2]

Writings

Thomas Shapiro's first book was Population Control Politics, published in 1985, which focused primarily on female sterilization, the welfare state, and public policy in the United States. [2]

Shapiro co-authored Black Wealth/White Wealth with Professor Melvin L. Oliver, which was originally published in 1995; a tenth-anniversary edition was published in 2006. Black Wealth/White Wealth investigates racial inequality in the United States, however, what sets Black Wealth/White Wealth apart from the numerous other works on racial inequality from this time period is that Shapiro and Oliver examine racial inequality through the lens of wealth. The book demonstrates that a huge wealth gap exists between white and black Americans (according to the book, black families have, on average, 10 cents of wealth for every dollar white families have). Although the income gap between whites and blacks has narrowed, Shapiro and Oliver argue that the remarkable differences in wealth, and the impact that these differences have on housing, education, and more. Both also challenge the notion of growing equality between races in the United States. [3]

Great Divides: Readings in Social Inequality in the United States is a textbook on American social inequality compiled by Thomas Shapiro with contributions from classical and contemporary writers. Great Divides has gone through three editions; the first was published in 1998, and the other two editions followed in 2001 and 2005. According to Shapiro, the purpose of Great Divides is to examine the barriers between groups and individuals and to evaluate the impact that these barriers have had, and continue to have, on American society. Additionally, and unlike existing readers on social inequality, Shapiro seeks to meld older, more famous texts (from authors such as Max Weber and W. E. B. Du Bois) with cutting-edge research on the subject of inequality, thereby creating a more comprehensive and challenging text for students. [4]

In his 2004 publication The Hidden Cost of Being African American, Shapiro focuses on the importance of family wealth and the central role that it plays in passing down racial inequality from generation to generation in the United States. Drawing from interviews with 182 black, white and Latino families with school aged children in Boston, Los Angeles, and St. Louis, Shapiro argues that there continues to be a substantial racial wealth gap in the United States. Shapiro also claims that families lacking financial assets, characteristically the African American population, are hindered from becoming upwardly mobile in American society. 3/4 of the people that Shapiro interviewed were middle class and 1/4 were working class or poor. These same inherited, transformative assets are leveraged by whites, enabling them to take fuller advantage of economic opportunities and accumulate additional wealth, what many refer to as White privilege. This vicious cycle, Shapiro argues, has the effect of perpetuating and worsening racial inequality in the United States. Shapiro focuses on the "big picture" of wealth dynamics in the United States and explores how family money effects racial inequality. His book is organized around the ideas that inheritance and racial discrimination are making inequality between whites and African Americans worse. He coins the term "transformative assets" as money that is acquired through family that allows for social mobility beyond what their current income level would allow for. He shows that different starting lines of wealth for different people has a huge impact on inequalities and that race plays a huge role in determining your starting place. In terms of racial equality, inherited wealth and housing discrimination limit educational and employment gains which have a huge impact on social mobility. [5] More narrowly, Shapiro also focuses on the advantages that transformative assets have on the value of housing and the subsequent quality of neighborhoods and schools, to the additional benefit of whites and disadvantage of blacks. [6]

In his 2017 book, Toxic Inequality: How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future, Shapiro argues that wealth disparities and racial inequities must be understood in tandem. Following nearly two hundred families of different races and income levels over a period of twelve years, Shapiro's research vividly documents the recession's toll on parents and children, the ways families use wealth to manage crises and create opportunities, and the real reasons some families build wealth while others struggle in poverty.

Bibliography

Books [1] [7]

  • Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality (with Melvin L. Oliver). Tenth Anniversary Edition. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Great Divides: Readings in Social Inequality in the United States. Third Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005.
  • The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality (with Melvin L. Oliver). New York: Routledge, 1995.
  • Population Control Politics: Women, Sterilization, and Reproductive Choice. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985.

Selected Articles

  • "Economic (In)Security: The Experience of the African-American and Latino Middle Classes" (with Jennifer Wheary, Tamara Draut, and Tatajana Meschede). Demos and IASP. http://iasp.brandeis.edu/general/byathread2.html. February, 2008.
  • "By A Thread: The New Experience of America's Middle Class" (with Jennifer Wheary and Tamara Draut). Demos and IASP. http://iasp.brandeis.edu/general/byathread.html. November, 2007.
  • "Race, Homeownership and Wealth." Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 20. (2006).
  • "The Racial Wealth Gap." African Americans and the U.S. Economy. Ed. Conrad, Whitehead, Mason & Stewart. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.
  • "Good Neighborhoods, Good Schools: Race and the Good Choices of White Families (with Heather Johnson)." White Out: The Continuing Significance of Racism. Ed. Doan, Ashley & Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. Routledge, 2003.
  • "Wealth of a Nation: A Reassessment of Asset Inequality in America Shows at Least One Third of Households Are Asset-Poor" (with Melvin L. Oliver). The American Journal of Economics and Sociology . Vol. 49, No. 2. (Apr., 1990), pp. 129–151.

Awards

Personal life

Shapiro is married to Ruth Birnberg, and the couple has a son, Izak Shapiro.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, titles, debts, entitlements, privileges, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ among societies and have changed over time. The passing on of private property and/or debts can be done by a notary.

Redlining Systemic denial of services to residents of specific neighborhoods or communities

In the United States, redlining was a discriminatory practice in which services were withheld from potential customers who resided in neighborhoods classified as 'hazardous' to investment; these residents largely belonged to racial and ethnic minorities. While the most well-known examples involved denial of credit and insurance, denial of healthcare and the development of food deserts in minority neighborhoods have also been attributed to redlining in many instances. In the case of retail businesses like supermarkets, the purposeful construction of stores impractically far away from targeted residents resulted in a redlining effect.

Economic inequality Divergence in economic well-being within a group

There are wide varieties of economic inequality, most notably measured using the distribution of income and the distribution of wealth. Besides economic inequality between countries or states, there are important types of economic inequality between different groups of people.

White privilege, or white skin privilege, is the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. With roots in European colonialism and imperialism, and the Atlantic slave trade, white privilege has developed in circumstances that have broadly sought to protect white racial privileges, various national citizenships, and other rights or special benefits.

Racial steering refers to the practice in which real estate brokers guide prospective home buyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race. The term is used in the context of de facto residential segregation in the United States, and is often divided into two broad classes of conduct:

  1. Advising customers to purchase homes in particular neighborhoods on the basis of race
  2. Failing, on the basis of race, to show, or to inform buyers of homes that meet their specifications.

The African-American middle class consists of Black Americans who have middle-class status within the American class structure. It is a societal level within the African-American community that primarily began to develop in the early 1960s, when the ongoing Civil Rights Movement led to the outlawing of de jure racial segregation. The African American middle class exists throughout the United States, particularly in the Northeast and in the South, with the largest contiguous majority black middle class neighborhoods being in the Washington, DC suburbs in Maryland. The African American middle class is also prevalent in the Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, New York, and Chicago areas.

Oppositional culture, also known as the "blocked opportunities framework" or the "caste theory of education", is a term most commonly used in studying the sociology of education to explain racial disparities in educational achievement, particularly between white and black Americans. However, the term refers to any subculture's rejection of conformity to prevailing norms and values, not just nonconformity within the educational system. Thus many criminal gangs and religious cults could also be considered oppositional cultures.

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Wealth inequality in the United States, also known as the wealth gap, is the unequal distribution of assets among residents of the United States. Wealth commonly includes the values of any homes, automobiles, personal valuables, businesses, savings, and investments, as well as any associated debts. As of Q3 2019, the top 10% of households held 70% of the country's wealth, while the bottom 50% held 2%. From an international perspective, the difference in US median and mean wealth per adult is over 600%.

Housing segregation in the United States Denying races access to housing

Housing segregation in the United States is the practice of denying African Americans and other minority groups equal access to housing through the process of misinformation, denial of realty and financing services, and racial steering. Housing policy in the United States has influenced housing segregation trends throughout history. Key legislation include the National Housing Act of 1934, the G.I. Bill, and the Fair Housing Act. Factors such as socioeconomic status, spatial assimilation, and immigration contribute to perpetuating housing segregation. The effects of housing segregation include relocation, unequal living standards, and poverty. However, there have been initiatives to combat housing segregation, such as the Section 8 housing program.

Housing inequality

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Racial inequality in the United States identifies the social inequality and advantages and disparities that affect different races within the United States. These can also be seen as a result of historic oppression, inequality of inheritance, or racism and prejudice, especially against minority groups.

Structural inequality occurs when the fabric of organizations, institutions, governments or social networks contains an embedded bias which provides advantages for some members and marginalizes or produces disadvantages for other members. This can involve property rights, status, or unequal access to health care, housing, education and other physical or financial resources or opportunities. Structural inequality is believed to be an embedded part of the culture of the United States due to the history of slavery and the subsequent suppression of equal civil rights of minority races.

Socioeconomic mobility in the United States Social and economic class mobility

Socioeconomic mobility in the United States refers to the upward or downward movement of Americans from one social class or economic level to another, through job changes, inheritance, marriage, connections, tax changes, innovation, illegal activities, hard work, lobbying, luck, health changes or other factors.

Social mobility in South Africa refers to the movement of South Africans from one social class to another. it is the study of upward socio-economic change in status achievable by South Africans from generation to generation.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unequal impact on different racial and ethnic groups in the United States, resulting in new disparities of health outcomes as well as exacerbating existing health and economic disparities.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Brandeis University. Tom M Shapiro . Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  2. 1 2 Shapiro, Thomas M. Personal Interview. April 14, 2008.
  3. Shapiro, Thomas and Melvin L. Oliver. Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality. New York: Routledge, 1995.
  4. Shapiro, Thomas. Great Divides: Readings in Social Inequality in the United States. Third Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005.
  5. Brandeis University. . Retrieved November 15, 2008.
  6. Shapiro, Thomas. The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  7. WorldCat. Results for 'Thomas M. Shapiro' . Retrieved April 16, 2008.