1st Edition

The Promise of Welfare Reform
Political Rhetoric and the Reality of Poverty in the Twenty-First Century

ISBN 9780789029225
Published May 3, 2006 by Routledge
352 Pages

USD $64.95

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Book Description

Find out how—and why—legislation has made economic rights more important than human rights

Since 1996, politicians and public officials in the United States have celebrated the “success” of welfare reform legislation despite little, if any, evidence to support their claims. The Promise of Welfare Reform: Political Rhetoric and the Reality of Poverty in the Twenty-First Century presents articles from 23 community practitioners and researchers who challenge the “reform” that has turned public aid from a right to a privilege. The authors transcend conventional academic writing, offering careful and thoughtful analysis that examines the history of welfare reform, its connection to poverty, family issues, and the impact of racism on poverty and on the treatment of the poor.

The Promise of Welfare Reform analyzes the consequences over the past ten years of legislative changes made to the public assistance program formerly known as Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC). This powerful book examines the social, political, and economic context of welfare reform, including the elimination of poverty as a societal goal, how racial and ethic groups have been targeted, popular stereotypes about the poor and their work ethic, anti-immigrant hostility, the struggles of single mothers with children, domestic violence, and marriage as a realistic escape from poverty. The book’s authors address the need for empathy and understanding to change public sentiments about welfare and poverty.

Contributors to The Promise of Welfare Reform include:

  • Elizabeth A. Segal and Keith M. Kilty, co-founding editors of the Journal of Poverty (Haworth)
  • Frances Fox Piven, co-author of Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare
  • Ann Withorn, co-editor of For Crying Out Loud: Women’s Poverty in the United States
  • Mimi Abramovitz, author of Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare in the United States
  • Joel Blau, co-author with Mimi Abramovitz of The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy
  • Margaret K. Nelson, author of The Social Economy of Single Mothers: Raising Children in Rural America
  • Gwendolyn Mink, co-editor of Welfare: A Documentary History of U.S. Policy and Politics
  • Kenneth J. Neubeck, co-author of Welfare Racism: Playing the Race Card Against America’s Poor
  • Lynn Fujiwara, author of Sanctioning Immigrants: Asian Immigrant Women and the Racial Politics of Welfare Reform
  • Nancy C. Jurik, author of Bootstrap Dreams: U.S. Microenterprise Developments in an Era of Welfare Reform
  • and much more!
The Promise of Welfare Reform challenges current views on welfare reform and promotes alternative methods to alleviate poverty. It is an essential resource for sociologists, political scientists, economists, public policy and management specialists, social welfare and human services workers, and anyone else concerned about changes made to public assistance by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Table of Contents

  • About the Editors
  • Contributors
  • Foreword (Frances Fox Piven)
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Looking Up the Slippery Slope: Lessons from a Lifetime of Trying to Figure Out and Fight Poverty (Ann Withorn)
  • Learning Begins at Home
  • Political Lessons
  • Welfare and Welfare Rights: Remembering What We Have Lost and Learned
  • Lessons Learned
  • A Final Personal Lesson: Why It All Still Matters
  • Chapter 2. Neither Accidental, Nor Simply Mean-Spirited: The Context for Welfare Reform (Mimi Abramovitz)
  • Background: The Rise of the Welfare State
  • Dismantling the Welfare State
  • Welfare Reform
  • The Race Card
  • Fighting Back
  • Chapter 3. Welfare Reform: Forward to the Past (Alfred L. Joseph Jr.)
  • Introduction
  • Welfare “Reform” and Beyond
  • History of Hostility to Assistance
  • The Struggle Continues: Fighting Racism Is Crucial
  • Chapter 4. Welfare Reform in Historical Perspective (Joel Blau)
  • From Agricultural to Industrial
  • From Competitive Capitalism to Monopoly Capitalism
  • Chapter 5. Lessons from Vermont (Margaret K. Nelson)
  • The Disappearance of Grassroots Resistance
  • Modest Social Change
  • A More Active Engagement
  • Chapter 6. Welfare Reform and the Transformation of the U.S. Welfare State (Michael Reisch)
  • Introduction: The Roots of Contemporary Welfare Reform
  • American “Exceptionalism”
  • Race and Welfare Reform
  • Antiwelfare Ideology
  • The Impact of Welfare Reform
  • The U.S. Workfare Regime
  • Welfare Reform and Economic Globalization
  • Welfare State Transformation and the Nature of Social Work
  • Conclusion: The Workfare Regime and Power
  • Chapter 7. Living Economic Restructuring at the Bottom: Welfare Restructuring and Low-Wage Work (Sandra Morgen, Joan Acker, Jill Weigt, and Lisa Gonzales)
  • What Is a Good Job?: Measuring Poverty and Good Jobs/Bad Jobs
  • Jobs, Poverty, and Welfare Reform in Oregon
  • Jobs and Poverty in the Era of Globalization and the “Jobless Recovery”
  • Policy Directions in the Context of Neoliberalism and Globalization
  • Chapter 8. Welfare Reform and the American Dream (Laura R. Peck and Sarah Allen Gershon)
  • What Is the American Dream?
  • How Has Welfare Reform Influenced the American Dream?
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Chapter 9. Welfare Reform: What’s Poverty Got to Do With It? (Keith M. Kilty)
  • Poverty: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
  • When Poverty Becomes Too Visible
  • Welfare Reform and Poverty
  • Chapter 10. Microenterprise Development, Welfare Reform, and the Contradictions of New Privatization (Nancy C. Jurik)
  • The Privatization of Collective Welfare
  • Microenterprise Development Programs (MDPs)
  • MDPs in Action: The Contradictions of New Privatization
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 11. Welfare Reform and Housing Retrenchment: What Happens When Two Policies Collide? (Jessica W. Pardee)
  • Understanding Welfare Policy
  • Understanding Housing Policy
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 12. Changing the Face of Homelessness: Welfare Reform’s Impact on Homeless Families (Bart W. Miles and Patrick J. Fowler)
  • Introduction
  • The Discursive Frame of Welfare Reform
  • The Goals of Welfare Reform, and Its Impact on Homeless People
  • Change in Demographics Among Homeless People
  • Increase in the Number of Homeless Families
  • Impact of Welfare Reform on Homeless Families
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations

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"...provide[s] an eclectic collection of chapters that address many aspects of the new welfare-to-work program and examines the wider political, economic and cultural context in which these changes evolved." -- Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Vol. 36 no. 3, 2008