Rank, Mark Robert 1955–

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RANK, Mark Robert 1955–

PERSONAL: Born May 18, 1955, in Milwaukee, WI; son of Robert Arthur and Hallie Jean (Hughes) Rank; married Anne Elizabeth Deutch, September 15, 1984; children: Elizabeth and Katherine. Education: University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.A. (with honors), 1978, M.S., 1980, Ph.D., 1984.

ADDRESSES: Home—St. Louis, MO. Office—Washington University, Campus Box 1196, One Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Professor and author. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, professional fellow, 1984–85; Washington University, St. Louis, MO, assistant professor, 1985–89, professor of social welfare, 1989–.

MEMBER: American Sociological Association, National Council on Family Relations.

AWARDS, HONORS: Feldman Award, Groves Conference on Marriage and the Family, 1991; Founders Day Distinguished Faculty Award, Washington University, 1995; Faculty Award to Improve Learning, William T. Kemper Foundation, 1998; Outstanding Research Award, Society of Social Work and Research, 2001; Distinguished Faculty Award, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, 2005; Access to Equal Justice Award, School of Law, Washington University, 2005.


Demographic Characteristics of Wisconsin's Welfare Recipients, University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI), 1984.

Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor, with Edward L. Kain) Diversity and Change in Families: Patterns, Prospects, and Policies, Prentice Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1995.

One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to academic journals, including Social Work, Demography, Social Forces, Journal of Marriage and the Family, American Sociological Review, Journal of Gerontology, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Psychological Science, Journal of Law and Social Policy, and Social Science Quarterly.

SIDELIGHTS: Educator and author Mark Robert Rank has long had an interest in poverty issues. He earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin in the field of sociology, and began teaching shortly thereafter at Washington University in St. Louis. In 1989, he joined the university's school of social work, and became Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare. His research and teaching specialties focus on social welfare, economic inequality, and social policy. In addition to writing books addressing these topics, Rank regularly contributes to academic and trade journals concerned with these issues. He has also provided his expertise to members of the U.S. Congress.

In 1994, Rank wrote his first book on the subject of American poverty. Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America. is based on ten years of interviews and sociological research involving welfare recipients in the state of Wisconsin. His focus is to show readers why people turn to the welfare system, what it is like to survive on welfare, and what the country can do to improve the system. The result is a combination of statistical data and personal stories from individuals and families living on welfare.

Overall, Living on the Edge was well received by readers and reviewers. Many critics acknowledged Rank's efforts to reach beyond an academic audience by providing narrative and personal accounts of life within the welfare system. "Rank strives manfully, and to some extent successfully, to reach both scholar and general reader," wrote Booklist contributor Roland Gilbert. Others praised Rank for trying to refute stereotypes about welfare recipients, while acknowledging the fact that his research only focuses on a specific segment of the welfare population. "Rank's effort to attack popular stereotypes is undermined by his failure to deal head on with the issue of the so-called urban underclass," observed Fred Block in a review for Political Science Quarterly.

In 2004, Rank wrote his next book on the subject of poverty, One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All. With this work he analyses the state of poverty in the United States, using definitions, statistics, and an overview of poverty's structural causes. He also argues that reducing poverty is in the country's self-interest because a majority of Americans will experience poverty or near-poverty at some point in their lives. Rank then outlines policies that could reduce poverty but have yet been untried.

Critics again recognized the merits of Rank's efforts in One Nation, Underprivileged. John Iceland, in a review for Social Forces called Rank's work "an admirable and thoughtful book that is likely to stimulate lively discussions on poverty at a time when renewed attention on this issue is needed." Other reviewers acknowledged Rank's attempts to expose the truth behind why the U.S. continues to have a problem with poverty. "The author debunks the traditional belief that the poor are largely responsible for their own condition," wrote Booklist contributor Allen Weakland.

Rank told CA: "Throughout my writings, I have attempted to change the way that we have traditionally understood the issues of poverty, inequality, and social welfare. My work consistently challenges my readers to look beyond the stereotypes, to the deeper meanings and realities underlying these critical social and economic issues."



America, November 22, 2004, Cecilio Morales, "The Face of the Poor Is Ours," p. 16.

Booklist, April 15, 1994, Roland Gilbert, review of Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America, p. 1491; May 15, 2004, Allen Weakland, review of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All, p. 1584.

Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, February, 1996, Julia S. O'Connor, review of Living on the Edge, p. 119.

Choice, December 2004, K. J. Bauman, review of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All, p. 743.

Michigan Law Review, May 1996, Lisa A. Crooms, review of Living on the Edge, p. 1953.

New Leader, June 6, 1994, Earl Shorris, review of Living on the Edge, p. 23.

Political Science Quarterly, winter, 1994, Fred Block, review of Living on the Edge, p. 933.

Progressive, January 1995, Ruth Conniff, review of Living on the Edge, p. 47.

Public Administration Review, May-June, 1996, Edward T. Jennings, Jr., review of Living on the Edge, p. 305.

Social Forces, September 2004, John Iceland, review of One Nation, Underprivileged, p. 439.


Washington University in St. Louis Web site, http://gwbweb.wustl.edu/ (February 10, 2005), "Mark Rank."