Thomas J. Sugrue

  • Inner-City Blues

    Ghetto is one of those words that ring tinnily today. The put-down “He’s ghetto” implies that its target is low-class or unsavory—an association that only has meaning in the context of America’s poisonous culture of race. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, when social scientists fretted about a “ghetto underclass” of single mothers, welfare-dependent children, and “superpredators,” the term enjoyed a brief recrudescence. But then a diverse array of scholars, including historian Michael B. Katz, sociologist Herbert J. Gans, and political scientist Adolph Reed, stepped in to point out that ghetto and