Penn Arts and Sciences

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

    McNeil Building, Room 103 (Access)

    Co-sponsored by the Penn Department of Sociology as part of their 2014-15 Colloquium Series.

    TO THE EXTENT THAT THE PUBLIC ACKNOWLEDGES POVERTY as an “accident of birth” rather than the outcome of an individual’s choices or abilities, it is often demographic features – race, class, ethnicity, family background, parents’ marital status – that are foregrounded.  David Brady’s work, however, points to what he argues is an even greater determinant of poverty: the “accident of birth” into a country with a greater or lesser commitment to supporting its citizens socially and economically. Among the world’s affluent nations, those where the welfare state has been and remains more robust exhibit lower levels of poverty.  The variation is striking even when the example of the United States, exceptional in its high levels of poverty, is removed.  In this talk, Brady questions the customary focus on demographics within nations to explain poverty, and shows that these explanations fall short from a comparative global perspective.

    DAVID BRADY is the Director of the “Inequality and Social Policy” research unit at the WZB Social Science Center in Berlin and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

  • Friday, November 14, 2014 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

    AS THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE HAS DECLINED in real terms over the decades, state and local governments have increasingly taken the initiative to provide a wage floor for low-wage workers. Dube, who participated in groundbreaking case-study research establishing the low impact of minimum wage laws on overall and teen employment, argues that local minimum wages make sense beyond being stop-gap measures in the face of inaction in Washington, D.C.  The cost of living varies widely in different localities, often resulting in low-wage workers being pushed deeper into poverty in areas where the median wage is higher. Even when the federal minimum wage is increased, he proposes that the nation’s minimum wages – plural – be pegged at half local-area median wages.

  • Friday, December 12, 2014 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

    FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADES, the policies that set the menu of opportunities and obstacles for poor and near-poor Americans have operated on false premises. Federal programs have assumed that low-income people face few barriers in searching out opportunities and exercising choice in the free market, even as state and local policymakers have created numerous spatial barriers that have made employment, social services, and other opportunities costly, difficult, or impossible to access. Moreover, federal policies have ignored the need to build supportive institutions to assist low-income Americans, assuming that private organizations will emerge when and where new needs appear. But dwindling federal funds, local indifference, and weak local capacities have meant that organizations designed to assist low-income people are overburdened, poorly located, or simply do not exist. Drawing on the cases of Chicago and Atlanta, as well as on national data on nonprofit organizations, Weir considers the disjuncture between federal programs directed at low-income people and the local spatial barriers that confront them.

  • Friday, January 23, 2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

    JULIAN ZELIZER is a Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (1998), On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (2004), Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security – From World War II to the War on Terrorism (2010), and Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989 (2010). In addition to his scholarly articles and book chapters, Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published over four hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.Com. He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. His forthcoming book is The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress and the Battle for the Great Society.

  • Friday, February 6, 2015 - 12:00pm

    PATRICK SHARKEY is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University. His highly praised book, Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality (2013) describes how, four decades after the high hopes of the Civil Rights Movement, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, he argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades and how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system. Ultimately, he advocates urban policies that have the potential to create transformative and sustained changes in urban communities and the families that live within them, and he outlines a durable urban policy agenda to move in that direction.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

    EVELYN BRODKIN is an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. A scholar of public policy and management, she examines the history, experiences, and contradictions of U.S. efforts to address poverty and inequality. Her research investigates political conflicts over social policy, how street-level organizations mediate policy and politics, and, the spread of workfare-style arrangements around the world. She takes up these issues in her co-edited book, Work and the Welfare State: Street-Level Organizations and Workfare Politics (2013), which investigates the politics and practices of the workfare in six countries. In addition, research examining the street-level organizations that bring policy to people has led to a series of publications, including, "Reflections on Street-Level Bureaucracy: Past, Present, and Future" (Public Administration Review, 2012) and a special symposium, "Putting Street-Level Organizations First: New Directions for Research" (Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2011). Beyond its impact on scholarship, Brodkin's research has contributed to social welfare advocacy, policymaking, and practice.  She has been invited to speak on her policy and organizational research in Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK.

  • Friday, April 17, 2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

    CHIARA SARACENO is Professor Emerita at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) and an Honorary Fellow at the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin. She is an internationally recognized sociologist who focuses on the dynamics of family change in Italy, as well as comparative gender patterns and social policies regarding the family in Europe and beyond. She also works on poverty and anti-poverty policies in a comparative perspective. Among her recent publications are Il Welfare, il Mulino (2013); I nuovi poveri (2011); Conciliare famiglia e lavoro (with Manuela Naldini) (2011); “Towards an integrated approach for the analysis of gender equity in policies supporting paid work and care responsibilities” (with W. Keck), Demographic Research (2011); “Social inequalities in facing old-age dependency: a bi-generational perspective,” Journal of European Social Policy (2010); and “Can we identify intergenerational policy regimes in Europe?” (with W. Keck), European Societies (2010). Together with J. Lewis and A. Leira, she edited the collection Families and Family Policies (2012).

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