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S. Hay’s and Feagin’s Works on Social Issues Essay

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Updated: Oct 14th, 2021

Introduction

The “Book White Men on Race” by Feagin and O’Brien illuminates the manners in which the privileged white men in the American Society think about the others (blacks). The source particularly underscores the bigotist attitudes with which especially the affluent white men regard their black counterparts. The resource has earned popularity through its significant thrust in delineating and enunciating the dynamism and conceptions of the racially privileged while it also captures the denial of the racial privileges in a society. The work by the renowned social scientists has earned respect and awards owing to its empirical thrust in outlining and substantiating the authors’ perspectives with regards to the dynamics relating to how Whites view others, particularity the blacks.

Main body

The authors have made extensive use of research data obtained and entailed in related studies to underscore their perceptions and perspectives. Whilst authors like Hernan Vera have dwelt on how Hollywood fictions of Whiteness based on revealing and provocative testification to opinions of whites on blacks, the accounts of about a hundred powerful higher income white men in the source White Men On Race by the two scholars illustrates the racial lenses through which white men perceive and regard ‘others’. “The scholars go beyond the exploration of the White Men’s perspectives on others and highlights how whites also perceive white America as well as what they make of the racial conflicts in relations of the future expectations for America” (Farley, Robert, 2006).

The book is particularity resourceful for its anecdotal thrust which constitutes copious encounters by around a hundred White men. The accounts are about various race related matters ranging from how the whites first encountered black Americans to perceptions on black individuals and families, cross-racial dating and marrying, the dynamics of affirmative action, etc. The topics of the white men’s accounts also go as far as entailing issues and accounts that entail the White men’s perspectives of issues such as crime and intervention solutions in discriminatory scenarios in relation the race dynamics as perceived by the White men.

Friedman, Stefan C (2005) notes that the book furnishes quiet substantively on the racial perspectives and attitudes of the white men characterizing the milieu into the 21st century. The book that was Pulitzer Prize nominee is a rich composition which is consistent in its discourse streamlining the matters of race, class and gender at the core of the analysis. Feagin and Obrien are popular thinkers and scholars in social science realms with their consistent thrust on crucial matters of power, privilege, and aspects of discrimination.

“White Men on Race” compliments this great opus of related works the scholars and others by providing deep and far reaching insights into a plethora of racial attitudes of the higher class in the U.S. society. “The two scholars’ (Feagin and O”Brien) gripping evaluation of empirical data is quite challenging and illuminating.” Dr. Bernice McNair Barnett, associate professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign cited by Smith Sylvia (2005).

The work of the Sharon Hay’s “Flat Broke with Children” was assembled in a milieu characterised by the decline of the widely hailed welfare reform policies which had seen the diminishing of welfare rolls from 44.million families in the year 1996 to about half that figure; 2 million in 2006. the writer has underscored the perspectives and experiences of the welfare mothers as well as welfare case workers who experienced the ‘success’ of the social welfare reform initiatives as well as their decline. In the book “Flat Book with Children” Sharon Hays presents an account of the welfare reform dynamics from the perspectives of the welfare programme and policy officials as well as from the inside viewpoints of the recipient mothers’ experiences. The book outlines the challenges that welfare beneficiaries had to face to cope with the demands of their work as well as their families also entailing the regulations and rules of the welfare reform.

What the text essentially underscores is that on practical reality levels the welfare reform is not glossy as it were. Hays outlines how the majority of the grown up welfare recipients most whom are mothers constituting of over 90% of the total welfare recipient pool, have to bear the brunt of time limitations placed by the demands of welfare reform. The outlines demonstrate how the foregoing resultantly drives most of the mostly unmarried women into the labour markets in which the women must accept nominal wages as most of them are engaged in menial work with the poorest hourly remuneration rates. The forms of work in which these desperate women find themselves in are also characterised by the acute lack of worker benefits and very limited flexibility that inhibit the workers from conducting requisite maneuvers to make ends meet.

Hays paints a lucid picture of the dynamic of the lives of these welfare recipients in manner that repudiates various stereotypical portrayals of welfare beneficiaries. Hay also manages to take a step backwards to unveil the essence of welfare reform in the regard of the meaning of work as well as family life in society. Hays concisely advances the argument that an intrinsic contradiction lies in the core of the social welfare policy which reinforces conventional family values even as its ethic and values on ‘personal responsibility’ demands that women take up some form of work and hence leave their children in childcare centers or at home all day without the critically needed care of the parents and particularly that of the mother.

One notable aspect in the works of the scholars Feagin and O”Brien and that of Sharon Hays in ‘Flat Broke with Children’ is the empirical thrust taken by the scholars. The writers have sought to bring to light complex social issues by unraveling bundles of bigotry that surround certain social matters. Feagin and O”Brien have used empirical data from about a hundred white men to demonstrate real world perceptions and regard for the ‘others’ particularly the blacks by the affluent whites in the American society. In a similar practical thrust Hay has spent about three years prior to assembling her resources visiting social welfare clients and welfare offices. One of the offices visited by the writer was in a medium sized town while the other was in a large metropolitan city. The scholar had an acute intention of exploring as diverse social classes as possible. “Based on the hands-on research drive, ‘Flat Broke With Children’ is hailed as the first book to present a copious exploration of the impact of welfare transformation on motherhood, marriage, and work in women’s lives, and the first book to present to us a picture of how welfare reform plays out in thousands of local welfare offices and in millions of households the nation over.” (Smith, Sylvia A 2005)

The salient point o confluence for the work of Sharon Hays in ‘Flat Broke with Children’ and Feagin and O”Brien ‘Book White Men on Race’ is the established by the focus of the writers on they social stratification of the American society in what would well play into a Marxist theory of classicism. The key similarity between the writers’ works is that what lies in the core of their empirical evaluations are the inequalities that characterise they societies the writers bring under spotlight. For both works, causes to the social disparities under probe are historical. The bottom line in both works is that some segments of the society are less privileged and efforts to alleviate the plight of the underprivileged have not yielded absolute triumph for the underprivileged in empowering them to surmount the social, political and economic challenges they face. In Feagin and O”brien’s work, the White affluent men are non-committal in the efforts to extirpate the ills of racism and racialism. In Sharon Hays’ work the planners of the social welfare programme are not rectifying the loopholes of the declining social welfare programme which puts most of its recipients (especially women) in much more extenuating circumstances.

Feagin and O”Brien have used the evaluation of the data they have gathered to demonstrate that although the American Society is by and large politically correct, individuals will not publicly declare their racism and racialism yet the subtle form of prejudice is evident in the minds of the probed respondents. The argument that the writers have sought to advance is that although most of the white affluent society are not intentionally racist ; these are unwilling to take proactive measures of ensuring that there is an elimination discrimination which is nonetheless less pronounced compared to segregation of the slavery epochs leading up to the 1960s civil rights movement. The authors thus overtly present that most of the American society still harbor racial prejudices detrimental to the individuals and the entirety of the America society at large. Perhaps the archiles heels of the writers’ evaluation and analysis is that their thrust fails to underscore similar patterns in Afro-Americans. The scholars have elaborately advanced a tacit assumption that it is only whites who harbor racialism and racism.

Conclusion

It may not be not accurate to place one book as absolutely superior over the other in consideration of the evaluations that have been presented by the authors. This is particularly so considering that the writer focuses are materially different although they might be philosophically and historically relatable. Writers for both works have achieved success by taking an empirical thrust in presenting their arguments and illuminating the loopholes existent in the society. Both evaluations provide an impetus for change and social transformation as well policy development in the entirety of the process of social transformational development.

References

  1. Farley, Robert (2006). “Appeal to prejudice may have fallen flat: Scientologists are relieved that Frank Farkas’ efforts to use Kim Berfield’s links to the church against her didn’t work in their primary race”, St. Petersburg Times.
  2. Friedman, Stefan C. “Scientologists: It’ll Pay to Boo$t City Pol”, New York Post, 2005
  3. Smith, Sylvia A,”Souder slowly filling his ’06 election nest – Six-term veteran unfazed by rivals”, The Journal Gazette, p. 9A., 2005
  4. Tobin, Thomas C,”Pinellas schools chief asks Scientologist aid: Wilcox asks help from all corners”, St. Petersburg Times.
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