Social Work History of Social Work and Social Welfare, 1980-2014
by
Michael Reisch
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 April 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0223

Introduction

The US social welfare system has undergone a major transformation since 1980. Economic globalization and technological developments have fundamentally altered the nation’s political economy, the nature of work, and the economic prospects of millions of Americans. The US political system has become increasingly polarized on ideological grounds, and the electoral process has changed as a consequence of the influence of money on politics. Demographic and cultural shifts—particularly the aging of the population, the growth proportion of racial and ethnic minorities in the US population (especially in urban areas), the expansion of women’s and LGBT rights, and the increase in the number of children born outside marriage—have created new social problems. As distrust of government has become more widespread, market-oriented ideas and values have permeated the culture of nonprofit and public-sector organizations. New unprecedented issues also emerged during this period, such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, crack cocaine, pervasive and chronic homelessness, terrorism, and the effects of climate change. The focus of social welfare policy shifted from the expansion of legal entitlements to concerns over fiscal responsibility and from the protection of vulnerable populations to an emphasis on work over welfare. The consequences of the early-21st-century Great Recession exacerbated long-standing political and social conflicts and created new sources of tension in US society, particularly over the future of domestic policy. The sources listed in this article address this wide range of interconnected issues from a variety of disciplinary and ideological perspectives.

General Overviews

Most general histories of US social welfare and social work focus on developments since the 19th century. Material on the post-1980 period, therefore, is often presented within this more expansive temporal context. Events during the post-1980 era are frequently contrasted with the broader trends in the evolution of social welfare and the profession of social work. Books that reflect these themes include Day and Schiele 2013, Katz 1996, Patterson 2000, Stern and Axinn 2012, and Trattner 2007. Several books focus specifically on the changes produced by the policies introduced by specific presidential administrations since the early 1980s. These include Piven 2004, Piven and Cloward 1997, Piven and Cloward 1982, and Stoesz 1996. Finally, Bailey and Danziger 2013 examines the early-21st-century impact of policies that emerged during the War on Poverty of the 1960s.

  • Bailey, M. J., and S. H. Danziger, eds. 2013. Legacies of the War on Poverty. National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    These essays by experts from the fields of economics, political science, and public policy examine the long-term impact of the War on Poverty, with a particular emphasis on three areas: (1) increasing human capital, employment, and earnings, (2) raising incomes and living standards, and (3) improving access to medical care and health. The book counteracts many of the myths that often characterize portrayals of the War on Poverty.

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  • Day, P. J., and J. H. Schiele. 2013. A new history of social welfare. 7th ed. Connecting Core Competencies. Boston: Pearson Education.

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    This book traces the evolution of social welfare from its earliest origins in Africa to recent developments in the 21st century. It devotes approximately one-third of its chapters to the post-1980 period, which it characterizes as “The Return to the Past.” The book emphasizes the role of values and ideology and focuses on the impact of social welfare on racial/ethnic minority groups, women, and the LGBT population.

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  • Katz, M. B. 1996. In the shadow of the poorhouse: A social history of welfare in America. Rev. ed. New York: Basic Books.

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    This revised edition of a classic history of welfare in America was updated in the aftermath of welfare reform. The book places this issue in its historical context, examining the origins of public and private social welfare, from the days of the colonial poorhouse to the present. It concludes with an analysis of how the War on Poverty of the 1960s became the war on welfare of the 1980s.

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  • Patterson, J. 2000. America’s struggle against poverty in the twentieth century. 4th ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    The revised edition includes content on the debates over poverty and welfare that occurred during the 1990s, a period of extraordinary economic growth. Patterson examines the contradictions of persistent poverty and growing inequality during a period of unprecedented prosperity. He places the debate over the 1996 welfare reform legislation within the broader context of the retreat from New Deal liberalism and the political climate of the Bill Clinton era.

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  • Piven, F. F. 2004. The war at home: The domestic costs of Bush’s militarism. New York: New Press.

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    This book examines the effects of the War on Terror and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq on domestic social policies during the George W. Bush administration. It demonstrates how the enormous costs of these military adventures prevented the United States from taking sustained action against persistent social problems, such as an increase in long-term and intensive poverty, growing income inequality, inadequate public education, and lack of access to affordable health care.

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  • Piven, F. F., and R. A. Cloward. 1982. The new class war: Reagan’s attack on the welfare state and its consequences. New York: Pantheon.

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    This book is a concise analysis of the immediate impact of the massive changes in social welfare policy introduced by the Reagan administration in 1981. These changes shifted government spending from domestic purposes to the military, and tax burdens from the wealthy to middle- and lower-income Americans. The authors discuss the extent of these changes, and predict what their future consequences are likely to be (predictions that proved remarkably accurate).

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  • Piven, F. F., and R. A. Cloward. 1997. The breaking of the American social compact. New York: New Press.

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    This book argues that social welfare policies since the early 1980s have destroyed the long-standing consensus on government’s role in addressing Americans’ economic and social problems. The authors argue that the welfare reform legislation of 1996 culminated a two-decade-long attack on the policies of the New Deal and the War on Poverty and a fracturing of the social contract that enabled millions of Americans to improve their lives and well-being.

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  • Stern, M. J., and J. Axinn. 2012. Social welfare: A history of the American response to need. 8th ed. Connecting Core Competencies. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    The authors place the developments of the post-1980 era in the context of US social welfare from colonial times to the present. They devote several chapters to the impact of the Reagan-Bush era, the significance of welfare reform in the 1990s, and US social welfare during the 21st century. These chapters illustrate how policies enacted since the late 20th century reflect continuity or change from historical patterns.

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  • Stoesz, D. 1996. Small change: Domestic policy under the Clinton presidency. White Plains, NY: Longman.

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    This tightly written book, published during the height of the debate over welfare reform, emphasizes how changes in the political-economic climate of the United States limit the scope and narrow the goals of US social welfare. The author astutely analyzes the “small-bore” policy efforts of President Clinton’s first term and the failure of his attempt to implement a reform of the nation’s health-care system.

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  • Trattner, W. I. 2007. From poor law to welfare state: A history of social welfare in America. 6th ed. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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    Trattner provides an in-depth examination of developments in child welfare and public health, and the evolution of social work as a profession, showing how all these changes affected the treatment of the poor and needy in America. He explores the impact of public policies on social workers and other helping professions—all against the backdrop of social and intellectual trends in American history.

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Reference Works

Most of the reference works listed in this section are published regularly or annually and can, therefore, be used to provide longitudinal comparisons of trends in social problems and in the US response to these problems. In general, these works have a specific focus. Annie E. Casey Foundation 1997– and Children’s Defense Fund 2006 contain comprehensive data about the socioeconomic conditions of children. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University 2012 provides a similar function for housing data. The statistics reported in Mabli, et al. 2010 and Coleman-Jensen, et al. 2011 focus on the problem of hunger and on policy solutions to hunger and malnutrition. Economic Policy Institute 1988–; Levitan 1980; and Levitan, et al. 2003 analyze the state of working-class and low-income Americans and the policies and programs that exist to address their needs. The compilations in Mink and Solinger 2003 and Nadasen, et al. 2009 include a wide range of documents related to the history of welfare since the late 20th century. Feinberg and Knox 1990 identifies bibliographical sources on women and poverty during the 1980s.

  • Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1997–. City kids count: Data on the well-being of children in large cities. Baltimore: Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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    This annual publication is a valuable resource on the significant social indicators affecting children in major metropolitan areas in the United States. It includes information on poverty, family income, housing, education, and health care and contains both comparative and longitudinal data that are useful for historical purposes.

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  • Children’s Defense Fund. 2006. Statistics on child poverty in the United States. Washington, DC: Children’s Defense Fund.

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    This publication includes a wide range of data on the extent, nature, and consequences of poverty among children in the United States. It is particularly useful in identifying differences among diverse demographic groups and regions. By comparing the statistics collected annually, historical trends can be analyzed.

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  • Coleman-Jensen, A., M. Nord, M. Andrews, and S. Carlson. 2011. Household food security in the United States in 2011. Economic Research Report 141. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture.

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    This government publication includes information on the breadth and depth of food insecurity in the United States. It reveals the different forms and levels of food insecurity, and its distribution by demographic groups, regions, and age cohorts. By comparing these data with previous government reports and those published by private organizations, historical trends can be identified.

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  • Economic Policy Institute. 1988–. The state of working America. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

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    This annual publication focuses on the economic and social conditions of working people and working families in the United States. It contains valuable data on wages and household income, as well as access to health care and mental health care, housing conditions, and living costs. It is a useful source for comparing historical trends since the early 1980s in the economic well-being of the American people.

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  • Feinberg, R., and K. E. Knox. 1990. The feminization of poverty in the United States: A selected, annotated bibliography of the issues, 1978–1989. Garland Reference Library of Social Science 530. New York: Garland.

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    This compendium of sources is helpful in identifying the literature on the specific issue of the feminization of poverty during the critical decade in which the issue first emerged as a national problem. During the twelve-year period it covers, the depth and breadth of analyses of this issue substantially increased. This publication provides guidance as to how the discourse on women’s poverty shifted during these critical years of policy change.

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  • Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. 2012. State of the nation’s housing, 2012. Cambridge, MA: President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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    This annual publication provides valuable data on the overall condition of housing in the United States and the variety of policies and programs that exist at the federal, state, and local levels to provide housing assistance. It is particularly useful for comparative purposes and for assessing the impact of economic and demographic changes on housing conditions and housing policy.

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  • Levitan, S. A. 1980. Programs in aid of the poor for the 1980s. 4th ed. Policy Studies in Employment and Welfare 1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    This publication summarizes the major federal and state programs that existed at the outset of the period covered by this article. It includes information on the amount of government expenditures, the number of individuals and families who receive benefits from these programs, the level of benefits, and the means by which they are distributed. It provides a useful baseline to compare with subsequent editions of this volume.

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  • Levitan, S. A., G. L. Mangum, S. L. Mangum, and A. M. Sum. 2003. Programs in aid of the poor. 8th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    Also see the 5th through 7th editions, published in 1985 (written by Levitan), 1990 (by Levitan), and 1998 (by Levitan, Mangum, and Mangum), respectively. By comparing the data presented in these four volumes, the reader can identify historical trends since the late 20th century in the structure, extent, and impact of the “social safety net” in the United States. These publications reveal the major changes that occurred in government social spending, shifts in eligibility requirements and benefit levels, and the effects of the devolution of social welfare policy implementation to states and localities.

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  • Mabli, J., R. Cohen, F. Potter, and Z. Zhao. 2010. Hunger in America 2010: National report prepared for Feeding America. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.

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    This publication reveals the extent of hunger in the United States, within different regions and among different demographic groups and age cohorts. It analyzes the impact of hunger and its relationship to poverty and family composition and provides valuable information about the usage and impact of public and private nutrition assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (), school breakfast and lunch programs, and privately operated food banks.

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  • Mink, G., and R. Solinger, eds. 2003. Welfare: A documentary history of U.S. policy and politics. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    This comprehensive volume contains a wide variety of documents pertaining to the history of welfare in the United States from the nation’s origins through the early 21st century. It includes valuable source materials on the major changes that occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, such as welfare reform legislation, testimony before Congress, statements by political leaders, and newspaper accounts. The breadth of coverage helps situate more-recent developments in welfare policy in a broader historical context.

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  • Nadasen, P., J. Mittelstadt, and M. Chappell, eds. 2009. Welfare in the United States: A history with documents, 1935–1996. New York: Routledge.

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    This annotated collection of documents focuses on the critical period between the passage of the Social Security Act and the adoption of welfare reform. The included source materials are accompanied by detailed annotations that provide useful context. By focusing more narrowly than Mink and Solinger 2003, the book underscores the significance of the changes in welfare policy that occurred during the 1980s and 1990s.

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Anthologies

Most of these wide-ranging anthologies include some essays that, in entirety or in part, address either historical developments that occurred since 1980 or the recent historical background of modern issues. Herrick and Stuart 2005 and Mink and O’Connor 2004 are the only ones that focus specifically on history, although the former includes material on other North American societies and both cover more than the post-1980 era. Mizrahi and Davis 2008, a multivolume encyclopedia, contains essays both about social welfare and the profession of social work, as does Glicken 2011. Kilty and Segal 2003, National Association of Social Workers 2012, and Midgley and Livermore 2008 focus exclusively on issues of social policy, while Weil, et al. 2012 primarily contains essays with an emphasis on practice. The material in Reisch and Wenocur 1983 and Salamon 2012 provides useful contextual background.

  • Glicken, M. D. 2011. Social work in the 21st century: An introduction to social welfare, social issues, and the profession. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This anthology is a useful introduction to the profession of social work and its relationship to the early-21st-century social welfare system in the United States. The revised edition explores current social issues in the United States, such as poverty, aging, and access to health care. The volume also reflects early-21st-century events, including the 2008 presidential election, and government responses to catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake.

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  • Herrick, J. M., and P. H. Stuart, eds. 2005. Encyclopedia of social welfare history in North America. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781412952521Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Written by experts from various disciplines, the Encyclopedia provides readers with basic information about the history of social welfare in North America. Many entries address issues that have emerged since 1980. They provide comparative information about common as well as distinctive concerns and developments, and include suggestions for further reading that will guide readers to the rich resources available for learning about the history of North American social welfare.

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  • Kilty, K. M., and E. A. Segal, eds. 2003. Rediscovering the other America: The continuing crisis of poverty and inequality in the United States. New York: Haworth.

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    These essays explore the systemic conditions that underlie the persistence of poverty and inequality in the United States. They analyze the historical causes and consequences of poverty and inequality, with a particular emphasis on the effects of policy changes since the late 20th century. They address the impact of policy changes in such diverse areas as health care, welfare reform, the nonprofit sector, the status of women, and rural conditions.

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  • Midgley, J., and M. Livermore, eds. 2008. The handbook of social policy. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This collection documents the substantial body of knowledge about social policies that has appeared since the study of social policy emerged as an organized field of academic endeavor about fifty years ago. The revised edition includes historical essays that specifically cover the period since 1980, articles that place current trends in broader historical perspective, and entries that focus on changes that have occurred since the end of the 20th century.

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  • Mink, G., and A. O’Connor, eds. 2004. Poverty in the United States: An encyclopedia of history, politics, and policy. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

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    This anthology focuses on the changing nature of poverty in the United States and on the different societal responses to poverty in different eras. These essays help locate the developments that occurred since 1980 in a broader historical context, providing the basis for useful comparisons of US antipoverty policies in different periods. They also demonstrate the changes in the nature of poverty in the United States.

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  • Mizrahi, T., and L. E. Davis, eds. 2008. Encyclopedia of social work. 4 vols. 20th ed. Washington, DC: NASW.

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    This multivolume collection covers a wide range of conceptual and historical topics about social welfare and social work, with a particular emphasis on developments in the United States. Short biographical essays on leading figures in US social welfare and social work are particularly interesting. Entries have been updated and contain suggestions for further reading. They are also cross-listed to enable readers to locate articles on related topics. Available online by subscription.

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  • National Association of Social Workers. 2012. Social work speaks: National Association of Social Workers policy statements, 2012–2014. 9th ed. Washington, DC: NASW.

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    Published every three years, this collection of articles reflects the positions adopted by the National Association of Social Workers on a wide range of issues. Each entry contains useful statistical data and a short list of sources. By examining these publications since the early 1980s, the reader can compare both the range of issues that the profession of social work addressed and the shifting emphasis of the profession’s response.

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  • Reisch, M., and S. Wenocur, eds. 1983. Special issue: The political economy of social work. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 10.4.

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    This volume provides a snapshot of US social work and social welfare at the beginning of the 1980s, when the effects of Reaganomics were first felt. Through a political-economic framework, essays discuss such topics as the impact of professionalization on social work, ethical dilemmas confronting the profession, and the consequences of then-recent policy changes on intra- and interorganizational relationships. This collection is particularly useful as a forecast of future events. Available online.

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  • Salamon, L. M., ed. 2012. The state of nonprofit America. 2d ed. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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    This is the most comprehensive collection of analyses about the nonprofit sector in the United States. It captures both the unique role of the sector in US society and the major changes that have occurred since the early 1980s. The essays examine the situation of the nonprofit sector in such varied fields as health care, education, social service, housing, and the arts and address the major challenges confronting the sector.

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  • Weil, M., M. Reisch, and M. L. Ohmer, eds. 2012. Handbook of community practice. 2d ed. SAGE eReference. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This revised and expanded e-book edition of an earlier volume—it contains twenty-five new essays—examines the current state of community practice and community practice theories in such diverse areas as community development and planning, grassroots organizing, social change, policy advocacy, program development, and interorganizational relationships. It provides in-depth treatment of the impact of globalization and integrates case examples from every continent to place US developments in their international context.

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Selected Internet Websites

The enormous expansion of the Internet has produced an ever-growing number of Internet sites that have valuable information on early-21st-century social welfare in the United States. Several of these sites contain policy analyses of a wide range of issues and, through the use of their online archives, provide the opportunity to assess the evolution of US social welfare policies since the late 20th century. These include the Brookings Institution, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Urban Institute. Other sites focus primarily on economic issues (the Economic Policy Institute), and the extent and effects of poverty (the Institute for Research on Poverty. The website of the Children’s Defense Fund contains current and historical information about the condition of children in the United States. The Statistical Abstract of the United States contains a wealth of social and economic data.

  • American Enterprise Institute.

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    The American Enterprise Institute is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening free enterprise through research and education on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare. American Enterprise Institute’s purpose is to serve leaders and the public through research and education in six primary research divisions: economics; foreign and defense policy; politics and public opinion; education; health, energy, and the environment; and social and culture.

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  • Brookings Institution.

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    The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, on the basis of that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: strengthen American democracy; foster the economic and social welfare, security, and opportunity of all Americans; and secure a more open, safe, prosperous, and cooperative international system.

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  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities works at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals, and develops policy options to alleviate poverty. The center conducts research and analysis to help shape public debates over proposed budget and tax policies and to help ensure that policymakers consider the needs of low-income families and individuals in these debates.

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  • Children’s Defense Fund.

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    The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is a nonprofit child advocacy organization that has worked for more than forty years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF champions policies and programs nationwide that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, high-quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation.

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  • Economic Policy Institute.

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    The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank whose mission is to inform and empower individuals to seek solutions that ensure broadly shared prosperity and opportunity. EPI conducts research and analysis on the economic status of working America and proposes public policies that protect and improve the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers, assessing policies with respect to how they affect those workers.

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  • Harris School of Public Policy.

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    Formerly the Joint Center for Poverty Research. These research centers advance knowledge, provide information to policymakers, and support ongoing dialogue between researchers and practitioners. They include the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy, the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, the Center for Health Policy, the Center for Municipal Finance, the Center for Policy Entrepreneurship, the Crime Lab, the Cultural Policy Center, the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, and the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development.

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  • Institute for Research on Poverty.

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    The Institute for Research on Poverty is a nonprofit, nonpartisan center for interdisciplinary research into the causes and consequences of poverty and social inequality. It is one of three National Poverty Research Centers sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The institute’s affiliates have formulated and tested basic theories of poverty and inequality, developed and evaluated social policy alternatives, and analyzed trends in poverty and economic well-being.

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  • Statistical Abstract of the United States.

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    The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the nation. It is a convenient volume for statistical reference, and a guide to sources of more information in print and on the web. Data sources include the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and other federal agencies and private organizations.

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  • Urban Institute.

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    The Urban Institute conducts sophisticated research to understand and solve real-world challenges in a rapidly urbanizing environment. Its scholars blend academic rigor with on-the-ground collaboration, teaming with policymakers, community leaders, practitioners, and the private sector to diagnose problems and find solutions. Its research portfolio ranges from the social safety net to health and tax policies; the well-being of families and neighborhoods; and trends in work, earnings, and wealth building.

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Journals

Although there are no journals that focus specifically on the history of social welfare or social work, each of the journals listed below occasionally publishes articles that relate to this topic and to current developments. The latter often include some discussion of the historical antecedents of the issues. For example, the American Historical Review and the Journal of American History publish articles on the evolution of US social welfare, often situating it in the broader context of US history. They also publish reviews of books on the subject. Several social work journals contain articles on the history of the profession, the evolution of US social welfare, or the impact of current policies. These include the Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, Social Service Review, Social Work, and the British Journal of Social Work. Other journals publish historical articles with a specific focus, reflecting the journals’ emphases. For example, Affilia publishes articles pertaining to the impact of social welfare on women, primarily from a feminist perspective. The Journal of Community Practice contains articles and book reviews pertaining to the role of social work in such areas as urban planning, community organizing, and labor. The Journal of Progressive Human Services publishes papers from a critical perspective, including those that examine the role of radical social workers in US social welfare. The Journal of Social Work Education occasionally includes articles on the evolution of theoretical content in social work curriculum, the focus of social work scholarship, or the pedagogical methods employed by schools of social work.

Histories of the Social Work Profession, 1980–Present

No books have been published that specifically address the evolution of the social work profession during the post-1980 era. Instead, they generally incorporate an analysis of modern professional developments within broader histories of the profession. The books listed below, however, emphasize different aspects of the profession’s history. Jansson 2012 examines the emergence of the social work profession in the context of the development of the US social welfare system and explores the early-21st-century implications of this relationship. By emphasizing the “empowerment tradition” in American social work, Simon 1994 focuses on the profession’s role in enhancing the “voice” of the populations with whom it works. By contrast, Iglehart and Becerra 2011 emphasizes how the profession has often neglected or misunderstood the needs of racial and ethnic minorities. Bent-Goodley 2003 and Carlton-LaNey 2001 demonstrate how African Americans responded to this neglect by developing their own systems of policy and social welfare down to the present. Reisch and Andrews 2002 and Specht and Courtney 1994 provide powerful critiques of the evolution of the social work profession, which have clear present-day overtones. Olasky 1992 also criticizes the profession, but from a conservative perspective. Willinger and Rice 2003 focuses specifically on how the social work profession responded to the leading health crisis of the post-1980 era—the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Finally, the essays in Reisch and Gambrill 1997 examine the state of social work in the late 20th century and project how it will develop in the decades ahead.

  • Bent-Goodley, T. B., ed. 2003. African-American social workers and social policy. Haworth Social Work Practice. New York: Haworth.

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    This book of essays discusses the contributions both of well-known and lesser-known African American social workers to US social policies during the 20th century. It includes material that is often overlooked in general histories of the social work profession. Although most of the individuals discussed in the volume made their impact prior to 1980, their legacy has important implications for the current profession.

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  • Carlton-LaNey, I. B., ed. 2001. African American leadership: An empowerment tradition in social welfare history. Washington, DC: NASW.

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    This collection covers similar ground to Bent-Goodley 2003, although it includes a larger number of essays on little-known African American social workers. Its primary difference is the thematic emphasis on the dual role of these individuals: engaging in racial “uplift” and influencing the general development of the profession of social work in such diverse areas as the settlement movement, public welfare, community development, rural social work, and international social work.

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  • Iglehart, A. P., and R. M. Becerra. 2011. Social services and the ethnic community: History and analysis. 2d ed. Long Grove, IL: Waveland.

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    This revised edition expands the authors’ discussion of the relationship of the social work profession to ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Given the early-21st-century interest in cultural competence, the book’s emphasis on the origins, evolution, and current state of social service delivery systems to ethnic communities, particularly by mainstream agencies, makes an important contribution to our understanding of what constitutes culturally responsive policies and programs.

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  • Jansson, B. S. 2012. The reluctant welfare state: Engaging history to advance social work practice in contemporary society. 7th ed. Brooks/Cole Empowerment. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

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    Although this book covers the history of US social welfare from colonial times to the present, it places considerable emphasis on the evolution of the social work profession and contemporaneous policy and professional developments. It devotes approximately one-third of its chapters to events since 1980. The latest edition also explicitly integrates an understanding of historical events into an analysis of the conditions affecting current social work practice.

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  • Olasky, M. 1992. The tragedy of American compassion. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway.

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    This book raises important issues about the failure of state-sponsored policies to eradicate poverty and its accompanying problems. The author argues that the expansion of government intervention into the field of social welfare during the 20th century has eroded the traditional foundations of American charity and has produced unintended negative social consequences. The book is a good reflection of conservative opinion during the 1980s and early 1990s.

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  • Reisch, M., and J. L. Andrews. 2002. The road not taken: A history of radical social work in the United States. 4th ed. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

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    This book examines the evolution of social work, by focusing on the influence of individual radicals and radical ideas on social work practice and social welfare policy from the late 19th century to the earliest 21st century. It explores how mainstream organizations, political leaders, and the media responded to the ideas and actions of radical social workers. Approximately one-third of its chapters deal specifically with events post-1980.

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  • Reisch, M., and E. Gambrill, eds. 1997. Social work in the 21st century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781483326405Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    These essays provide valuable insights on the state of the social work profession at the end of the 20th century. The volume covers such topics as demographic changes, the transformation of the economy, international developments, and the political context of social work. It focuses on the diverse fields of practice in which social workers are engaged and discusses ethical issues confronting the profession, social work educators and social work researchers

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  • Simon, B. L. 1994. The empowerment tradition in American social work: A history. Empowering the Powerless. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    This book traces the history of empowerment within the social work profession during the century between 1893 and its publication. It explores the ideas, beliefs, and movements that influenced its development during several key eras. About one-quarter of the book is devoted specifically to issues post-1980, although the entire book provides critical historical background on how the social work profession defined and applied the concept of empowerment.

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  • Specht, H., and M. E. Courtney. 1994. Unfaithful angels: How social work has abandoned its mission. New York: Free Press.

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    This provocative book argues that social work’s original mission of aiding the poor and serving marginalized populations in US society was abandoned due to the influence of the American ideology of individualism and the social work profession’s embrace of psychotherapy. The authors propose as an alternative a community-based system of social care for the 21st century in lieu of the current structure of US social services.

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  • Willinger, B. I., and A. Rice, eds. 2003. A history of AIDS social work in hospitals: A daring response to an epidemic. New York: Haworth.

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    Published two decades after the issue of HIV/AIDS emerged, these essays document how little-known social workers were among the first responders to this devastating epidemic. The book shows how social workers in different regions of the country responded differently to a problem with few historical antecedents, and it traces the growing sophistication of these responses as the impact of the epidemic expanded, new populations were affected, and public awareness increased.

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Books on Social Welfare Policy with Historical Content

Although these texts focus on a description and analysis of modern social welfare policies, they inevitably integrate content on historical events of the post-1980 era. They do so, however, with different emphases. Blau and Abramovitz 2013 focuses on the transformations that have occurred in the political-economic environment, particularly the impact of economic globalization. DiNitto 2010; Karger and Stoesz 2013; and Meenaghan, et al. 2013 place more emphasis on the role of politics and the policy effects of changes in the political climate of the United States. Popple and Leighninger 2011 discusses the interrelationship between social welfare policy and the evolution of the social work profession since the early 1980s. Macarov 1995 and Segal 2013 stress the role of values in shaping US social welfare policy, analyzing how conflicts among diverse value perspectives have influenced the goals of US policy and the process of policymaking. Gilbert and Terrell 2012 uses a multidimensional framework to analyze current social welfare policies and to demonstrate how the components of that framework have been affected by changing social, economic, and political conditions since the early 1980s. Reisch 2014 and Colby, et al. 2013 apply a social justice framework to examine changes in the structure and process of US social welfare policy. Both books include several chapters that explicitly focus, in whole or in part, on its late-20th- to early-21st-century history.

  • Blau, J., and M. Abramovitz. 2013. The dynamics of social welfare policy. 4th ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The book discusses how five key social forces—ideology, politics, history, economics, and social movements—interact to create and change the social welfare system. It analyzes the political, economic, and ideological changes that have occurred since the early 1980s and how these changes have affected US social welfare. It focuses on early-21st-century transformations that have taken place in such policy areas as income security, employment, housing, health care, and nutrition.

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  • Colby, I. C., C. N. Dulmus, and K. M. Sowers, eds. 2013. Connecting social welfare policy to fields of practice. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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    This book examines the impact of policies on social work practice and discusses the issues confronting policymakers, elected officials, and agency administrators in developing policies that are consistent with the profession’s goal of social justice. Several chapters explicitly address changes that have occurred since the turn of the 21st century, such as the US Patriot Act, welfare reform, the internationalization of social policy, and the emergence of social media.

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  • DiNitto, D. M. 2010. Social welfare: Politics and public policy. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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    This text emphasizes the political aspects of policymaking and major social welfare programs. The author also focuses on current controversies involving policies that address racism, sexism, gay rights, and immigration. Developments in social policy since the late 20th century are portrayed as public conflicts over the nature and causes of social welfare problems, what are appropriate and feasible policy responses, and who is responsible for developing and implementing them.

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  • Gilbert, N., and P. Terrell. 2012. Dimensions of social welfare policy. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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    This text provides a comprehensive framework for analyzing social welfare policies and places them in historical perspective. It covers income maintenance, child welfare, model cities, day care, community action, and mental health, and discusses changes since the late 20th century in major social welfare programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Old Age, Survivors, Disability and Health Insurance (OASDHI), the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and Title XX.

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  • Karger, H. J., and D. Stoesz. 2013. American social welfare policy: A pluralist approach. 7th ed. Connecting Core Competencies. Boston: Pearson.

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    This text employs a policy analysis approach to provide a critical, in-depth look at the major programs that make up the US welfare state, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and TANF. It discusses the major political and ideological forces that have affected these programs during the past several decades and the changes that occurred in the policymaking process more recently.

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  • Macarov, D. 1995. Social welfare: Structure and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781483345345Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book focuses on the history, motivations, influences, and vital issues in social welfare policy and practice. Macarov explains the origins of social welfare policy and how it is maintained through the interaction of five motivations: mutual aid, religion, politics, economics, and ideology. The book concludes with an examination of poverty and unemployment and a review of policy responses to these social problems during the 1980s and early 1990s.

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  • Meenaghan, T. M., K. M. Kilty, D. D. Long, and J. G. McNutt. 2013. Policy, politics, and ethics: A critical approach. 3d ed. Chicago: Lyceum.

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    This book examines the complex social and political factors that influence current policy development. It analyzes the political, organizational, and personal interests that underpin the development and implementation of social policies, emphasizing both the rational and political aspects of social policymaking. The book assesses the interaction between applied research methods and various social, scientific, and technological components behind the policymaking process, and how these forces affect at-risk populations and groups.

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  • Popple, P. R., and L. Leighninger. 2011. Social work, social welfare, and American society. 8th ed. Connecting Core Competencies. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    This book provides a political perspective on social welfare history since the late 20th century—with definitions of liberal, conservative, and radical positions—in order to assess the political context of current social welfare programs. The book also explores social workers’ current roles in social welfare programs and discusses the role of past and present social welfare movements in shaping US social welfare policy.

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  • Reisch, M., ed. 2014. Social policy & social justice. Social Work in the New Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Through a social justice lens, this book analyzes the current environment of US social policy, with particular attention to the historical forces that shape it and the consequences for people of color, women, and low-income persons. It describes early-21st-century changes in fiscal policymaking, policy advocacy, and the role of the judiciary and explores early-21st-century developments in health and mental health policy, Social Security, welfare, employment policy, and social services.

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  • Segal, E. A. 2013. Social welfare policy and social programs: A values perspective. 3d ed. Brooks/Cole Empowerment. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

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    This book emphasizes the values that underlie the formation of current social welfare policies and programs. The author demonstrates how the increasing demographic diversity of the United States has produced myriad and often-conflicting values that have shaped the development of modern policies. Segal also examines these policies in light of early-21st-century international developments, which enables the reader to understand the global implications of current social work.

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Works with Specialized Foci

The works in this section address specific aspects of the development of US social welfare and social work since 1980. The first sub-section contains works that address the major economic, political, demographic, and ideological changes that have dramatically transformed the US welfare system and the profession of social work. The next sub-section places these developments in comparative perspective. Subsequent sub-sections contain works that address specific policy issues which have been become increasingly important and contentious. These include Social Security and aging, welfare and welfare reform, health care and health care reform, housing and homelessness, social services (including faith-based services), employment and employment policies, income and assets policies, education and educational policy, urban policy, and children and child welfare policy. Other sub-sections contain works that analyze some of the important conceptual and philosophical issues underlying the transformation of US social welfare since 1980. These include sub-sections on poverty and inequality, policies that address these persistent issues, the impact of race and gender on inequality and policymaking, and the relationship between social justice and policy development. The final sub-section addresses the politics of policymaking, which has become an increasingly important issue in today’s hyper-partisan environment.

The Transformation of the US Social Welfare System

Since 1980, major economic, political, demographic, and ideological changes have dramatically transformed the US welfare system. A long-standing bipartisan consensus on the goals of social welfare and the means to achieve these was shattered, and the public’s confidence in the ability of government to address persistent economic and social issues or to solve new social problems was severely shaken. These books examine the changes that took place during the 1980s and 1990s and the impact of these changes on the structure of the American welfare state. A consistent theme is how the spread of market-based ideas has significantly altered the nature of the US welfare system. Gilbert and Gilbert 1989 and Gilbert 2004 take an optimistic view of the consequences of these changes. Other works—Hacker 2002, Hacker and O’Leary 2012, Katz 2008, and Macarov 2003—point out the negative consequences of market-driven policies and the privatization of social welfare. Funiciello 1993 similarly takes a critical view of the welfare system but attributes its problems more to its long-standing structure, goals, and underlying values. Marmor, et al. 1992 emphasizes how many then-recent policy changes were based on false premises about the purposes of social welfare and how social welfare programs were designed and implemented. Kessler-Harris 2001 demonstrates how gender bias shaped and continues to shape the structure and content of US social welfare policy, often in unacknowledged ways. Howard 1999 discusses a critical component of social welfare that is less frequently examined but has significantly changed since 1980: the role of tax policy and tax expenditures in providing welfare benefits and determining how they are funded.

  • Funiciello, T. 1993. Tyranny of kindness: Dismantling the welfare system to end poverty in America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

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    This provocative book presents a devastating critique of the US welfare system, with an emphasis on how it perpetuates poverty and dependency. It defines poverty as a pathology, recounts the author’s involvement with a welfare committee, and chronicles the abuses of the welfare system. Although intended to provide an impetus to reform the welfare system, the book provided ammunition for those who wished to dismantle it.

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  • Gilbert, N. 2004. Transformation of the welfare state: The silent surrender of public responsibility. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This book discusses the dramatic changes in social welfare that occurred in the late 20th century. It analyzes the fundamental transformation in the welfare state that emerged as a consequence of the global triumph of free-market principles. This “neoliberal” transformation involved a rejection of long-standing, broad-based entitlements and automatic benefits and their replacement by a new, “enabling” approach defined by policies designed to promote privatization and labor force participation.

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  • Gilbert, N., and B. Gilbert. 1989. The enabling state: Modern welfare capitalism in America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This book discusses the new arrangements that appeared during the 1970s and 1980s in the financing and delivery of social welfare programs in the United States and other industrial democracies that created an alternative model of social welfare. The authors explore the use of private enterprise and market-oriented approaches to the delivery of social provisions and examine how welfare benefits are derived from the full range of modern social transfers.

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  • Hacker, J. S. 2002. The divided welfare state: The battle over public and private social benefits in the United States. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511817298Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the distinctive system of public and private social benefits that exists in the United States, and explains the origins, evolution, and consequences of so-called American “exceptionalism.” With a focus on late-20th-century developments, Hacker demonstrates that private social benefits have not merely been shaped by public policy, but have deeply influenced the politics of public social programs with strikingly different political and social effects.

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  • Hacker, J. S., and A. O’Leary, eds. 2012. Shared responsibility, shared risk: Government, markets, and social policy in the twenty-first century. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199781911.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    These essays explore early-21st-century developments in US social welfare policy and the prospects for change in the future. The book analyzes the changing economic and political environment of US social welfare and places these changes in international perspective. Essays focus on the issue of economic security for workers and families, examine the need to increase people’s security in health and retirement, and address the need for a revised social contract.

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  • Howard, C. 1999. The hidden welfare state: Tax expenditures and social policy in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400822416Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book examines the links between the hidden welfare state and US tax policy and demonstrates the important role of Congress and political parties in this relationship. It focuses on why individuals, businesses, and public officials support tax expenditures and describes the origins, development, and structure of the American welfare state, with particular attention to the politics of taxation and role of tax expenditures toward the end of the 20th century.

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  • Katz, M. B. 2008. The price of citizenship: Redefining the American welfare state. Updated ed. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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    This updated edition describes how the intricate web of government programs, employer-provided benefits, and semiprivate organizations intended to promote economic security and guarantee the basic necessities of life for all citizens developed. Katz argues that in the last several decades a ferocious war on dependence; the devolution of authority both within government and the private sector; and the application of market models have permeated all aspects of the social contract.

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  • Kessler-Harris, A. 2001. In pursuit of equity: Women, men, and the quest for economic citizenship in 20th-century America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Kessler-Harris explores the transformation of some of the most significant US social policies in the area of gender equity and provides an important historical background to events since the early 1970s. The book shows how deeply embedded beliefs about gender and gender roles shaped social legislation in ways that limited the freedom and equality of women, in ways that resonate down to the present.

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  • Macarov, D. 2003. What the market does to people: Privatization, globalization, and poverty. London: Zed Books.

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    This book analyzes how poverty currently afflicts large numbers of people both in developed and less developed nations. It examines the extent and forms of poverty, and its consequences both from societal and individual perspectives. It also explores the origins of poverty in attitudes and ideologies, and the societal norms and structures that currently keep billions of people poor, with a particular emphasis on changes since the late 1970s.

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  • Marmor, T. R., J. L. Mashaw, and P. L. Harvey. 1992. America’s misunderstood welfare state: Persistent myths, enduring realities. New York: Basic Books.

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    Published after a decade in which antisocial welfare ideology had gained ascendancy in the United States, this book refutes certain myths about the nation’s welfare programs particularly the criticisms of Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs that gained widespread attention during the 1980s. The authors demonstrate that most public discourse on social welfare is based on false ideas about what these programs are and how they work.

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The US Social Welfare System in Comparative Perspective

These books situate the transformation of the US welfare system since 1980 in its broader global context. They explore how major economic, political, and ideological changes since then have undermined many of the basic premises of nations’ welfare systems, the features and impact of the neoliberal welfare systems that have emerged in their place, and the prospects for future reform. Several of the books emphasize the effects of economic changes; these include Eisenstadt and Ahimeir 1985, Esping-Andersen 1996, Glyn 2007, and Teeple 2000. Others focus on the politics of welfare state transformation, although they focus on different spheres of political conflict. These include Clarke 2004, Mares 2003, and Pierson 1994. Finally, three books emphasize the ideological or philosophical dimensions of welfare state transformation since the late 20th century: George and Wilding 1994, Handel 2009, and Roche 1992.

  • Clarke, J. 2004. Changing welfare, changing states: New directions in social policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Since 1980, there has been a global debate about the changing relationships among welfare, state, and nation. This book reflects a commitment to rethinking social policy in an era when social, political, and intellectual certainties have been profoundly unsettled. Although the book has a global focus, the author’s arguments have powerful resonance in the United States because of the critical role of culture in framing the policy debates.

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  • Eisenstadt, S. N., and O. Ahimeir, eds. 1985. The welfare state and its aftermath. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble.

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    The essays in this book survey how the welfare state emerged and evolved in the developed economies, analyze ways in which problems of welfare provision have emerged, and suggest possibilities for reform.

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  • Esping-Andersen, G., ed. 1996. Welfare states in transition: National adaptations in global economies. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    These essays examine the then-current structures of social protection, consider the causes of the then-current welfare state crisis, and highlight evolving trends for welfare policy. The authors argue that different welfare states manifest different forms of crisis as a consequence of globalization. They assert that the effect of population aging is exaggerated, and that an equally fundamental challenge lies in addressing the impact of neoliberal welfare regimes on human well-being.

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  • George, V., and P. Wilding. 1994. Welfare and ideology. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

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    Although written in the mid-1990s, this book provides a concise overview of six major ideological schools of thought about the welfare state of today and the future. The authors analyze how these ideologies interpret the development of the welfare state, their support or opposition to the welfare state, their views on social services, their ideas for change, and what they consider to be their ideal society.

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  • Glyn, A. 2007. Capitalism unleashed: Finance, globalization, and welfare. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226795.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author examines the dramatic economic changes that have occurred since 1980 and provides a history of the economic problems facing the Global North during the late 20th century. It questions whether capitalism has really brought anticipated levels of economic growth and prosperity and explores the impact that the rapidly developing economies of China and the South are likely to have on the older economies of the North.

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  • Handel, G. 2009. Social welfare in Western society. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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    The author argues that, historically, five basic concepts of help have emerged: charity, based on a relationship between private donors and recipients; public welfare, based on a relationship between the state and its recipients; social insurance, based on a relationship between the state and beneficiaries of its programs; social service, based on people skilled in interaction providing aid to their clients; and mutual-aid groups whose members are simultaneously helpers and those being helped.

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  • Mares, I. 2003. The politics of social risk: Business and welfare state development. Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    The book analyzes the role played by business in the development of the modern welfare state. It explores when and why employers have supported the development of social insurance programs that provide benefits to workers for various employment-related risks, and what factors explain the variation in employers’ social policy preferences. This book studies these critical questions and demonstrates that major social policies were adopted by cross-class alliances.

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  • Pierson, P. 1994. Dismantling the welfare state? Reagan, Thatcher, and the politics of retrenchment. Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511805288Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book offers a careful examination of the politics of social policy in an era of austerity and conservative governance. Focusing on the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Pierson explains why the welfare state endured despite cutbacks and persistent and powerful ideological and political attacks. The book explores the politics of neoconservatism and the transformation of the modern welfare state during the 1980s and early 1990s.

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  • Roche, M. 1992. Rethinking citizenship: Welfare, ideology, and change in modern society. Cambridge, MA: Polity.

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    In the present-day United States, citizenship rights have become vital to our sense of personal identity and social membership. The author argues that we have to shift from the postwar politics of social rights to a new politics of social obligations and personal responsibility. The book analyzes the evolution of citizenship in developed societies and assesses then-current debates about the “new poverty,” the development of an “underclass,” and other “post-industrial” changes.

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  • Teeple, G. 2000. Globalization and the decline of social reform: Into the twenty-first century. 2d ed. Aurora, ON: Garamond.

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    This revised edition examines how social democracy has been undermined, by clarifying the definition of globalization and exploring its historical development. Teeple discusses the meaning and implication of “knowledge-based” means of production and analyzes postmodernism as a consequence of the transformations brought on by this new technology. He critiques many contemporary skeptics of the idea of globalization and considers the potential for progressive social change given the continued expansion of globalized capital.

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Social Security and Aging

One of the most contentious issues of domestic policy in recent US social welfare history concerns the future of Social Security and other entitlement policies. The pressure to resolve these issues has increased since 1980 with the impending retirement of the baby boomer cohort. Each of these books addresses this complex problem and proposes policy solutions. Altman 2005; Hicks 1999; and Rogne, et al. 2009 trace the historical evolution of these issues, with particular attention to late-20th- and early-21st-century developments. Caro, et al. 2000 addresses the issue of entitlement programs in the broader context of the problems generated by an aging society. Caro and Morris 2002 examines the impact of policy devolution on policies and programs for the elderly, while Munnell 2012 looks at the related issue of the funding status of state and local pensions. Several books focus on the implications of Social Security and retirement policy for specific segments of the population. Government Accountability Office 2012 analyzes the situation of women, Rockeymoore and Lui 2011 examines the impact of entitlement reform on persons of color, and Williamson, et al. 1999 explores the issue of intergenerational equity. The essays in Gruber and Wise 2008 compare the situation in the United States with those of other industrialized nations.

  • Altman, N. J. 2005. The battle for Social Security: From FDR’s vision to Bush’s gamble. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

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    This book illuminates the politics of the current struggle over Social Security. It recounts the evolution of Social Security policy in the United States and the ideological struggles that accompanied this evolution. It contains a valuable analysis of changes introduced since 1980 and the sources of more-recent attacks on entitlements. It concludes with policy recommendations that eliminate Social Security’s deficit in a manner consistent with the program’s philosophy and structure.

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  • Caro, F. G., and R. Morris, eds. 2002. Devolution and aging policy. New York: Haworth.

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    This book explores significant but often-overlooked aspects of modern aging policy, by emphasizing the impact of policy devolution and the roles that state/local government and private organizations play in addressing the needs of the elderly in America. It focuses on the process of developing innovative, positive changes in aging policy, through state and local initiatives, collaborations between the federal government and other government agencies, public/private collaboration, and strictly private initiatives.

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  • Caro, F. G., R. Morris, and J. R. Norton, eds. 2000. Advancing aging policy as the 21st century begins. New York: Haworth.

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    In response to the impending increase in the aged population of the United States, this book explores the policy options available to prepare for an aging society. The essays by experts in the field of gerontology address such issues as work and retirement, the aging prison population, long-term care, the needs of Latino elders, transportation, issues of death and dying, and the significance of the aging of the baby boom generation.

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  • Government Accountability Office. 2012. Retirement security: Women still face challenges. Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office.

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    This book provides the latest data on a problem that has worsened since the early 1980s. Since the early 1900s, female life expectancy has exceeded male life expectancy, resulting in women outnumbering men in the older age groups. This trend is projected to continue into the mid-21st century; the population age sixty-five and over is expected to more than double from 2010 to 2050.

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  • Gruber, J., and D. A. Wise, eds. 2008. Social security and retirement around the world. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    This book focuses on one question: What accounts for the striking decline in labor force participation at increasingly younger ages? It addresses one possible explanation: social security programs actually provide incentives for early retirement. The book contains papers on the evolution of social security systems, as well as labor force participation patterns in Europe, Japan, and North America, and thereby places developments in the United States in an international context. First published in 1998.

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  • Hicks, A. M. 1999. Social democracy & welfare capitalism: A century of income security politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    This book examines the contradiction between the widespread public provision of welfare and income security and the concurrent popularity of free-market liberalism. The author revises traditional interpretations of this issue, stressing the enduring significance of class organizations, however politically embedded, from the late 19th century to the present. This account situates the changes in US Social Security policy during the 1980s and 1990s in a broader historical perspective.

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  • Munnell, A. H. 2012. State and local pensions: What now? Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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    In the wake of the Great Recession, the health of state and local pension plans is now a front-burner policy issue. The author draws on her practical experience and research to provide a broad perspective on this issue. She argues that it cannot be viewed through a narrow prism such as accounting methods or the role of unions, and she debunks the notion that all pensions plans are in trouble.

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  • Rockeymoore, M. M., and M. Lui. 2011. Plan for a new future: The impact of Social Security reform on people of color. Washington, DC: Commission to Modernize Social Security.

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    As the United States becomes a “majority-minority” nation over the next three decades, its Social Security system must be modernized to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and economically insecure workforce. This book argues that changes to the program must consider the impact on workers and families of color, who are more vulnerable to economic instability and far less likely to have generational wealth than white families. Available online.

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  • Rogne, L., C. L. Estes, B. R. Grossman, B. A. Hollister, and E. Solway, eds. 2009. Social insurance and social justice: Social Security, Medicare, and the campaign against entitlements. New York: Springer.

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    This provocative text serves as an introduction to social insurance programs. The editors cover cutting-edge topics, including Social Security and privatization, universal health insurance, and how America’s changing demographics will affect social security in the years to come. Its covers the history of social insurance, examines issues affecting women, minorities, and elderly; analyzes public opinions and various international strategies, and provides instructional materials for faculty.

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  • Williamson, J. B., D. M. Watts-Roy, and E. R. Kingson, eds. 1999. The generational equity debate. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    As the elderly population continues to grow due to the retirement of the baby boom generation, policies that address retirement and aging have become increasingly complex and contentious. This book addresses how the United States will balance the conflicting demographic and economic demands of providing for its older citizens. The essays provide multiple views on this subject, from the perspectives of social workers, policy analysts, political scientists, policymakers, and sociologists.

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Welfare

For over a century, welfare policy directed toward low-income individuals and families has been a subject of fierce political and ideological contention in the United States. The intensity of this debate increased during the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in the 1996 welfare reform legislation. The books listed in this section analyze the history of welfare policy, particularly Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, now Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or TANF), with a particular emphasis on its political and value-driven dimensions and its consequences for women and persons of color. Abramovitz 1996 and Reese 2005 focus specifically on the impact of the nation’s welfare system on women. DeParle 2004, Rank 1994, and Seccombe 1999 address the life circumstances of families on welfare, and how myths about recipients and the welfare benefits they receive have influenced US policy during the past several decades. Kornbluh 2007, Nadasen 2012, and Reese 2011 discuss the history of welfare rights activism from the 1960s to the present. Deprez 2002 analyzes the origins and impact of the 1988 Family Support Act, an antecedent of the 1996 legislation that transformed AFDC into TANF. Berkowitz and DeWitt 2013 covers the history of a lesser-known welfare program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and analyzes how it evolved away from its original goals.

  • Abramovitz, M. 1996. Under attack, fighting back: Women and welfare in the United States. Cornerstone Books. New York: Monthly Review.

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    This book analyzes the negative consequences of the welfare system on women in the United States. It details the historical forces that have shaped welfare policy in the United States, the changes that were introduced during the 1980s and 1990s, and the underlying assumptions that shaped the discourse behind efforts to “reform” welfare. It also contains material on how women have advocated for a more just welfare system.

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  • Berkowitz, E. D., and L. DeWitt. 2013. The other welfare: Supplemental security income and U.S. social policy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    This book is the first comprehensive history of SSI, from its origins as part of President Nixon’s reform efforts to its pivotal role in the politics of the Clinton administration. The authors delve into SSI’s transformation from the idealistic intentions of its founders to the realities of its performance in today’s highly splintered political system. They revise the conventional wisdom about the development of modern American social welfare policy.

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  • DeParle, J. 2004. American dream: Three women, ten kids, and a nation’s drive to end welfare. New York: Viking.

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    This work by an award-winning journalist contrasts policy developments in Washington with the experiences of welfare recipients in Milwaukee in the years following welfare reform. At the heart of the story are three cousins whose different lives follow similar trajectories. The author traces their family history back six generations to slavery and weaves a complex narrative that explains why some families do not achieve the American Dream.

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  • Deprez, L. S. 2002. The Family Support Act of 1988: A case study of welfare policy in the 1980s. Mellen Studies in Social Work 2. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen.

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    This study makes in important contribution to understanding the politics of policymaking. It explores the relationship among political ideology, public opinion, and social welfare policy through a case study of the Family Support Act of 1988. It analyzes, congressional hearings and debates, news media editorials and commentaries (over three years), congressional interviews, and documentary evidence obtained from the private files of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the legislative sponsor.

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  • Kornbluh, F. 2007. The battle for welfare rights: Politics and poverty in modern America. Politics and Culture in Modern America. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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    This book tells the fascinating story of the National Welfare Rights Organization, the largest membership organization of low-income people in US history. The author connects developments in welfare policy to changes in mainstream politics, both nationally and locally in New York City. This background offers new insight into women’s activism, poverty policy, civil rights, urban politics, law, consumerism, social work, and the rise of modern conservatism.

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  • Nadasen, P. 2012. Rethinking the welfare rights movement. American Social and Political Movements of the Twentieth Century. New York: Routledge.

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    The welfare rights movement was an interracial protest movement of poor women who demanded reform of welfare policy, greater respect and dignity, and financial support to properly raise and care for their children. This book provides a concise overview of this social and political movement and its lasting effect on the country. It provides an important backdrop to the changes in welfare policy that have occurred since the early 1980s.

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  • Rank, M. R. 1994. Living on the edge: The realities of welfare in America. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    This highly regarded book powerfully depicts a side of the welfare experience the public rarely sees. It dispels the myth that only an urban underclass—the center of most modern policy debates—struggles on welfare. Through statistics and personal stories the author demonstrates how welfare recipients share much in common with the rest of the population, in terms of their values, life experiences, and aspirations for themselves and their children.

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  • Reese, E. 2005. Backlash against welfare mothers: Past and present. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520244610.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book places modern attacks on the welfare system and welfare mothers in historical perspective. It describes the earliest backlash against welfare programs in the post–World War II era, the failures of liberal innovation and the retrenchment of welfare policies since 1980. It attributes these attacks to the rise of the Republican right wing, the emergence of centrist Democrats, and the influence of business interests and conservative think tanks.

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  • Reese, E. 2011. They say cut back, we say fight back! Welfare activism in an era of retrenchment. Rose Series in Sociology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book offers a comprehensive review of welfare reform and its controversial design. It chronicles the largely untold story of a new grassroots coalition that opposed the law and continues to challenge and reshape its legacy in Wisconsin and California. The author argues that a crucial phase in policymaking unfolded after the bill s passage: the formation of broad coalitions that cut across race and class.

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  • Seccombe, K. 1999. “So you think I drive a Cadillac?” Welfare recipients’ perspectives on the system and its reform. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    This book uses the voices of recipients to describe how the US welfare system works. Based on in-depth interviews with individuals trapped in the complex web of disparate state and local welfare policies and procedures, it refutes many of the myths perpetuated by opportunistic politicians and media critics. It provides a stark and realistic picture of the lives of individuals and families who must rely on inadequate benefits to survive.

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Welfare Reform

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), widely known as welfare reform, transformed the US system of income support for low-income families and children. It ended the sixty-year-old entitlement to assistance, set a time limit on the receipt of benefits, and imposed a work requirement on adult beneficiaries. These works assess the consequences of welfare reform from a variety of perspectives. Mink 2002 provides the broadest historical perspective, tracing the history of welfare reform back three decades. Albelda and Withorn 2002 analyzes the political, economic, cultural, and ideological forces that motivated welfare reform, challenging many of its fundamental premises. Collins and Mayer 2010; Piven, et al. 2002; and Marchevsky and Theoharis 2006 analyze the effects of welfare reform on the employment and economic well-being of low-income women; the latter focuses specifically on its impact on Latina immigrants. Perlmutter 1997 presents a case study of a welfare reform success story as an example of how corporations can become involved effectively in public policy implementation. Abramovitz 2003 assesses the negative impact of welfare reform on the nonprofit sector, whose participation was critical to the program’s attainment of its goals. Brandwein 1999 demonstrates how the relationship among poverty, domestic violence, and welfare reform complicates the lives of welfare recipients and makes their transition from welfare to work more complex and difficult. Norris and Thompson 1995 and Schram, et al. 2003 analyze the politics of welfare reform development and implementation. The former assesses the various state-based attempts at welfare reform prior to the adoption of PRWORA. The latter focuses on the racial dimensions of welfare reform politics over the past several decades.

  • Abramovitz, M. 2003. In jeopardy: The impact of welfare reform on non-profit human service organizations in New York City. New York: United Way.

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    This study found (as did the others) that welfare reform had a deleterious effect on the budgets, structure, organizational cultures, and programs of nonprofit human service organizations. The author describes how welfare reform undermined the ability of nonprofits to fulfill their stated missions, caused them to cut back essential programs, increased interorganizational competition and intraorganizational tensions, and damaged their relationships with clients and constituents.

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  • Albelda, R., and A. Withorn, eds. 2002. Lost ground: Welfare reform, poverty and beyond. Cambridge, MA: South End.

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    In this book, a respected array of social scientists buck the conservative trend established by Charles Murray, expose welfare reform as a sham, and propose new strategies to end poverty. The authors argue that since the mid-1990s the United States has drastically restructured its national policies regarding basic state supports for the poor and that welfare reform has created more problems than it has solved.

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  • Brandwein, R. A., ed. 1999. Battered women, children, and welfare reform: The ties that bind. SAGE Series on Violence against Women 11. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This book addresses the relationship between domestic violence and welfare. It explores the link between family violence and welfare, including the role of financial support welfare provides; how batterers restrict their partner’s employment and educational opportunities how child support regulations require disclosure about abusers that may increase the danger of family violence, and how child abuse is linked to the need for welfare.

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  • Collins, J. L., and V. Mayer. 2010. Both hands tied: Welfare reform and the race to the bottom in the low-wage labor market. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226114071.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book focuses on the plight of working poor in the United States, in particular the relationship between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. It describes their struggle to balance childcare and wage earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jobs with inflexible schedules—and the moments when these jobs failed them and they turned to the state for additional aid in light of the 1996 national PRWORA.

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  • Marchevsky, A., and J. Theoharis. 2006. Not working: Latina immigrants, low-wage jobs, and the failure of welfare reform. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    This book chronicles the devastating effects of the 1996 welfare reform legislation on the plight of low-income Latina immigrants. The authors present vivid profiles of the day-to-day struggles of these women in the Los Angeles area and demonstrate how new “work first” policies fail to offer real job training or needed childcare options, ultimately causing many families to fall deeper below the poverty line and creating more instability and insecurity.

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  • Mink, G. 2002. Welfare’s end. Rev. ed. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    This book analyzes the thirty-year campaign to reform and ultimately to end welfare, culminating in the passage of the 1996 welfare reform legislation. The author argues that the basic elements of welfare reform subordinate poor single mothers in a separate system of law and reflect the racial, class, and gender biases of liberals and conservatives. This revised and updated edition contains a new chapter discussing welfare policy decisions since 1998.

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  • Norris, D. F., and L. Thompson, eds. 1995. The politics of welfare reform. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    In the decade prior to the passage of national welfare reform in 1996, states were granted waivers of federal regulations to conduct their own experiments in welfare policy change. These diverse innovations laid the foundation for the more comprehensive changes that were implemented during the Clinton administration. These essays analyze the politics involved in these experiments, and the diverse political and ideological forces that shaped them.

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  • Perlmutter, F. D. 1997. From welfare to work: Corporate initiatives and welfare reform. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195110159.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    By using a case example of how Pennsylvania Blue Shield trained, hired, and retained several hundred welfare recipients, this book provides a compelling success story as part of a broader discussion of welfare reform, public policy, and corporate social responsibility. It offers a practical explanation of the specific steps needed to establish such programs, including corporate tax incentives, business and government collaborations, and the special needs of welfare recipients.

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  • Piven, F. F., J. Acker, M. Hallock, and S. Morgen, eds. 2002. Work, welfare, and politics: Confronting poverty in the wake of welfare reform. Papers presented at the Work, Welfare, and Politics conference held in February 2000 at the University of Oregon. Eugene: Univ. of Oregon Press.

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    These essays focus on the underlying ideology and consequences of the 1996 welfare reform legislation. They examine the politics behind late-20th- to early-21st-century policy developments and the tensions between the goals of social provision and social control. Entries address such issues as the relationship between work and welfare, the effectiveness of mandatory job-training and educational programs on welfare recipients, and different states’ responses in the aftermath of welfare reform.

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  • Schram, S. F., J. Soss, and R. C. Fording, eds. 2003. Race and the politics of welfare reform. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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    This book addresses the central role that race and racial attitudes played in shaping the politics and policies of welfare reform and poverty in the United States. The essays trace the evolution of welfare from the 1930s to the sweeping Clinton-era reforms. They analyze media representation bias and public perceptions of welfare from 1967 to 1992 and their impact on public discourse, policy choices and policy implementation.

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Health Care

Health care is arguably the most complex and most controversial arena of US social welfare, particularly since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. The books in this section place this complex system in its historical context since the late 20th century and in the broader institutional framework of US society, including its overall political-economic, cultural, and demographic landscape. Several books emphasize the issue of health disparities/inequities. These include Almgren and Lindhorst 2012, Berkowitz 1989, Budrys 2010, Kaler and Rennert 2008, and Park 2011. The latter focuses specifically on the impact on immigrants. Moniz and Gorin 2013 provides a broad historical overview of the evolution of US health and mental health policies. Buse, et al. 2012 analyzes the historical and modern forces that have shaped the process of health policy development. Navarro 2007 and Stevens 1989 emphasize the economic forces—national and international—that influence health policy in the United States. Stevens 1989 challenges the assumptions underlying late-20th-century policies that seek to “normalize” marginalized populations.

  • Almgren, G. R., and T. Lindhorst. 2012. The safety-net health care system: Health care at the margins. New York: Springer.

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    This authoritative guide on the current status of the US safety-net health-care system focuses on how various populations are dealt with and affected by the system. It provides insight on the impact of the 2007–2009 recession, high unemployment, and policy reforms. It discusses how the system responds to such issues as violence, chronic illness, and substance abuse, and examines the relationship among public health, social work, nursing, and education.

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  • Berkowitz, E. D. 1989. Disabled policy: America’s programs for the handicapped. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Combining history and an analysis of policies in the 1980s, this book exposes the contradictions in America’s disability policy and suggests means of remedying them. On the basis of careful archival research and interviews with policymakers, the book illustrates the dilemmas that public policies pose for the handicapped: the then-current system forced too-many people with physical impairments into retirement, despite the availability of constructive alternatives.

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  • Budrys, G. 2010. Unequal health: How inequality contributes to health or illness. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    This book examines why do some individuals live longer and enjoy better health than others? By contrasting popular beliefs about the relevance of such factors as gender, race, poverty, and health habits, the author moves beyond widely-touted factors, such as smoking, diet, exercise, and even genetic inheritance, and examines those factors that are far more difficult to identify and track, such as relative income and relative social status.

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  • Buse, K., N. Mays, and G. Walt, eds. 2012. Making health policy. 2d ed. Understanding Public Health. New York: Open Univ. Press.

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    Written by leading experts, this book focuses on how health policy is made nationally and globally, and it covers key concepts with a wide array of engaging examples. It includes material on health policy analysis, power and policymaking, the current roles of the public and private sector, the impact of government and interest groups, and the effects of globalization. It explores why some health issues get more attention than others.

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  • Kaler, S. G., and O. M. Rennert, eds. 2008. Reducing the impact of poverty on health and human development: Scientific approaches. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1136. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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    This book explores the ways in which poverty contributes to ill health among the poor and to impeded development among poor children. It explores the diverse elements that contribute to poverty in the United States and elsewhere in the world, and the impact of poverty on the prevalence of various health issues associated with poverty, such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, lymphatic filariasis, hookworm, measles, health disparities, and poor nutrition.

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  • Moniz, C., and S. Gorin. 2013. Health and mental health care policy: A biopsychosocial perspective. 4th ed. London: Routledge.

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    This updated edition analyzes the background and impact of the 2010 ACA and places this legislation in the context of attempts since the late 20th century to reform the US health-care system. It focuses on reforms during the Obama administration, examines the system’s structure and policies, Part III explores policy analysis and advocacy, and persistent disparities in health and health care based on social and economic factors.

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  • Navarro, V., ed. 2007. Neoliberalism, globalization, and inequalities: Consequences for health and quality of life. Policy, Politics, Health, and Medicine. Amityville, NY: Baywood.

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    Since the early 1980s, the spread of market-oriented ideology, called “neoliberalism,” in the United States has reduced the role of government in people’s lives by privatizing services, deregulating the mobility of capital and labor, and reducing public social protection. It has also shaped the development of health-care policies. These essays question the tenets of neoliberalism, showing how the policies guided by this ideology have adversely affected human development.

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  • Park, L. S.-H. 2011. Entitled to nothing: The struggle for immigrant health care in the age of welfare reform. Nation of Newcomers. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    Drawing on nearly two hundred interviews with immigrant organizations, government agencies, and safety-net providers, his book investigates how the politics of immigration, health care, and welfare are intertwined in the early-21st-century United States. The author shows how negative perceptions of immigrants have been revived as states adopt punitive policies targeting immigrants of color and require them to “pay back” benefits for which they are legally eligible.

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  • Polsky, A. J. 1991. The rise of the therapeutic state. City in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    This book analyzes the impact of the assumption that has emerged since the mid- to late 20th century—that “marginal” citizens cannot govern their own lives—which has been used to promote casework intervention to reshape the attitudes and behaviors of those who live outside the social mainstream. It has led to programs whose goals are to “normalize” the victims of poverty, delinquency, family violence, and other problems.

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  • Stevens, R. 1989. In sickness and in wealth: American hospitals in the twentieth century. New York: Basic Books.

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    American hospitals are charities and businesses, social welfare institutions, and icons of US science, wealth, and technical achievement. This book examines this enormous and often-contradictory industry and shows that throughout the 20th century the voluntary not-for-profit hospitals had been profit-maximizing enterprises, although they had viewed themselves as charities. It provides a valuable historical background to the dramatic changes that occurred in the US health-care system during the previous several decades.

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Health-Care Reform

As the most substantial health-care reform in almost half a century, the health-care overhaul initiated by President Obama in 2010 was as historic as it was divisive. The new law extends health insurance to nearly all Americans, fulfilling a century-long quest and bringing the United States to parity with other industrial nations. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to control rapidly rising health-care costs and promises to make the United States more equal, reversing four decades of rising disparities between the very rich and everyone else. Millions of people of modest means will gain new benefits and protections from insurance company abuses—and the tab will be paid by privileged corporations and the very rich. Starr 2011 provides a comprehensive historical review of the evolution of health care in the United States, and efforts to reform the system. Estes, et al. 2013 places the issues of health-care reform in their broader societal and cultural context. Donohoe 2013 focuses on the implications of health-care reform for social justice. Several books analyze attempts at health-care reform in the 1980s and 1990s and provide important historical context to current debates. These include DiIulio and Nathan 1994, Leichter 1992, and Skocpol 1996. Three books—Gibson and Singh 2012, Jacobs and Skocpol 2012, and McDonough 2011—focus specifically on the background to and current debate over the ACA. Wizemann and Anderson 2009 analyzes the evolution of health policies affecting children since the late 1980s.

  • DiIulio, J. J., Jr., and R. R. Nathan, eds. 1994. Making health reform work: The view from the states. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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    Produced in close consultation with state health-care officials from all around the country, this edited volume addresses the central implementation, management, and federalism dimensions of health reform. The essays explore the administrative challenges of reform as they relate to health alliances, cost containment, quality of care, medical education and training, and other key issues. They discuss various working principles for developing an administratively sound health reform policy.

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  • Donohoe, M., ed. 2013. Public health and social justice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass / John Wiley.

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    The essays in this volume cover a broad range of topics, all of which focus on the relationship among public health, health policy, and the goal of equitable health outcomes. The authors assume that health is an achievable, non-negotiable human right. It is designed to appeal both to established scholars and newcomers to the field.

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  • Estes, C., S. Chapman, C. Dodd, B. Hollister, and C. Harrington, eds. 2013. Health policy: Crisis and reform. 6th ed. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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    This updated edition contains a collection of new articles on various health policies. This compilation of articles focuses on the new health-care environment, health-care reform, trends in health-care delivery, and quality and safety. Each chapter contains multiple article excerpts on that chapter’s topic, providing various perspectives on the most-pressing topics the health-care system faces. A brand new chapter is included, titled “Health Policy and Corporate Influences.”

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  • Gibson, R., and J. P. Singh. 2012. The battle over health care: What Obama’s reform means for America’s future. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    The authors provide a nonpartisan analysis of health care reform and its implications for the future. They show how health-care reform was enacted only with the consent of the medical-industrial complex. They argue that a fast-changing global economy will have profound implications for the country’s economic security and the accompanying health-care benefits, and predict that global competition will shape the future of employer-provided insurance more than the health-care reform law.

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  • Jacobs, L. R., and T. Skocpol. 2012. Health care reform and American politics: What everyone needs to know. What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The 2010 ACA, was a landmark in US social legislation. This book analyzes how this reform passed despite partisan divisions and intense lobbying by special interests, and what the future of health care in the United States will be in the future. The authors describe what the new law will cost, and who will pay, and analyze the impact of the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law.

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  • Leichter, H. M., ed. 1992. Health policy reform in America: Innovations from the states. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

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    This book provides an interesting backdrop to the debates over health care during the Clinton and Obama administrations. The essays assess the relative impact of reform initiatives in different regions of the United States. The book illustrates the important role that experimentation at the state level played both in creating the ideas underlying health-care reform efforts and in shaping the political and ideological climate in which the national debate occurred.

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  • McDonough, J. E. 2011. Inside national health reform. California/Milbank Books on Health and the Public 22. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    This book is an indispensable guide to the 2010 ACA. It provides a vivid picture of the intense effort required to bring this legislation into law, by explaining the ACA’s inner workings and revealing the rich landscape of the issues, policies, and controversies embedded in the law. The author describes the process from the 2008 presidential campaign to the moment in 2010 when President Obama signed the bill into law.

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  • Skocpol, T. 1996. Boomerang: Clinton’s health security effort and the turn against government in U.S. politics. New York: W. W. Norton.

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    This account examines the changing terrain of US politics and public policy of the health care reform battles during Clinton administration. Drawing on contemporaneous documents, media coverage, and confidential White House strategy memoranda, it offers insights into the way the Health Security Bill inadvertently became a perfect foil for antigovernment mobilization. The book provides a valuable preface to the struggles over health-care reform during the Obama administration.

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  • Starr, P. 2011. Remedy and reaction: The peculiar American struggle over health care reform. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    This history of American “exceptionalism” in health-care policy traces health-care reform from its beginnings to its current uncertain prospects. The author argues that the United States created policies that satisfied enough of the public and so enriched the health-care industry as to make the system difficult to change. He reveals the inside story of the rise and fall of the Clinton health plan in the early 1990s.

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  • Wizemann, T. M., and K. M. Anderson. 2009. Focusing on children’s health: Community approaches to addressing health disparities; Workshop summary. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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    Socioeconomic conditions are known to be major determinants of health at all stages of life, from pregnancy through childhood and adulthood. This volume describes the evidence linking early-childhood life conditions and adult health, discusses the contribution of the early life course to observed racial and ethnic disparities in health, and highlights successful models that engage both community factors and health care to affect life course development.

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Housing and Homelessness

Although the issues of affordable housing and homelessness are closely related, most books tend to address them separately. This is ironic because early-21st-century housing problems in the United States largely stem from a range of policy choices made in the 1970s and 1980s that dramatically increased the nation’s population of homeless persons while concurrently significantly decreasing the resources provided for housing assistance. Kozol 1988; Kryder-Coe, et al. 1991; Barak 1992; and Blau 1992 present in-depth analyses of the state of homelessness in the early 1990s, a little over a decade after the problem emerged in the nation’s consciousness. The first two of these books emphasize the impact of homelessness on children and youth. Rochefort 1997 provides a broad historical analysis of the relationship between homelessness and mental health care. Wagner and Gilman 2012 and Wasserman and Clair 2009 are critical examinations of the current state of homelessness in the United States, situating this issue in its historical context. Bratt, et al. 1986; Mitchell 1985; and Wright 1983 were all written in the mid-1980s, when the impact of homelessness and the housing policy cuts of the Reagan administration were being strongly felt; they provide a long-term view of the nation’s housing policies during the 20th century. Vale 2002 examines the state of US housing in the early 21st century and proposes policy solutions for the problems that have emerged since the mid-1980s.

  • Barak, G. 1992. Gimme shelter: A social history of homelessness in contemporary America. New York: Praeger.

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    This study takes a hard look at the realities and misconceptions that surround homelessness in the United States. The author demonstrates how current public-service programs inadequately address the issue, and proposes governmental policy changes that could prove beneficial. This book places the plight of homeless persons within the continuing domestic and worldwide economic emergency and defines their demographics according to such factors as age, sex, race, health, and education.

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  • Blau, J. 1992. The visible poor: Homelessness in the United States. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This book debunks the myths that most homeless persons are crazy, drug addicts, or lazy misfits who brought their suffering upon themselves. The author argues that the government policies developed during the 1980s at every level are mired in pointless head counting and quick-fix solutions that do not deal with its underlying causes. The book provides a political-economic framework to analyze the causes of homelessness.

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  • Bratt, R. G., C. Hartman, and A. Meyerson, eds. 1986. Critical perspectives on housing. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    This compilation of analyses by housing advocates and “pro-housing” policy scholars addresses such issues as the role of the private market, the role of the state, and strategies to reform housing policy. Written at the conclusion of President Reagan’s first term, it provides a snapshot of critical reaction to the surge in homelessness and the massive cuts in federal spending on housing assistance that occurred during the early 1980s.

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  • Bratt, R. G., M. E. Stone, and C. Hartman, eds. 2006. A right to housing: Foundation for a new social agenda. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    This book explains the persistent inability of the United States to meet the housing needs of a large portion of its population. Leading housing activists and scholars examine the state of housing and housing policy in the early 21st century, and the impact on those being housed. They then provide a comprehensive and detailed program for solving the problem, on the basis of the principle of a right to housing.

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  • Kozol, J. 1988. Rachel and her children: Homeless families in America. New York: Crown.

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    This powerful book first jolted the conscience of the nation when it appeared as a lengthy article in The New Yorker. On the basis of months of research among homeless people in the United States, it provides a powerful story of the desperation that men, women, and especially children experience when they are caught up in the nightmare of homelessness.

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  • Kryder-Coe, J. H., L. M. Salamon, and J. M. Molnar, eds. 1991. Homeless children and youth: A new American dilemma. Papers presented at a conference titled “Homeless Children and Youth: Coping with a National Tragedy,” held 25–28 April 1989 in Washington, DC. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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    This volume includes some of the best research and policy analysis ever assembled on this issue at that time. It provides a snapshot of the scope of child homelessness, its broader consequences and causes, and the social responses needed to respond to it effectively. The book focuses on two populations: very young children who are part of homeless families, and older young people who are homeless but on their own.

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  • Mitchell, J. P., ed. 1985. Federal housing policy and programs: Past and present. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research.

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    Although written in the mid-1980s, this book provides a still-relevant analysis of US housing policy. The historical background it contains regarding the role of federal assistance is both comprehensive and insightful. In particular, the chapter by Lawrence Friedman (“Housing Reform: Negative Style”) contains a more comprehensive analysis of housing regulations than can be found in other anthologies.

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  • Rochefort, D. A. 1997. From poorhouses to homelessness: Policy analysis and mental health care. 2d ed. Westport, CT: Auburn House.

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    This book is a comprehensive review of mental health policy issues in American society, from early practices that predate the formal mental health system through current debates about parity insurance coverage for mental illnesses, managed care, and Medicaid reform. It provides a perspective on mental health policy analysis in the 1990s and demonstrates the linkage between housing policy and the increase in homelessness that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.

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  • Vale, L. J. 2002. Reclaiming public housing: A half century of struggle in three public neighborhoods. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Through an analysis of three neighborhoods in Boston, the author illustrates how public housing can achieve successful results. Vale argues that while public housing policy needs revisions, it should not be entirely dismantled and privatized. He provides alternative solutions to current housing policies and programs that involve tenants more actively and democratically in critical decision making.

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  • Wagner, D., and J. B. Gilman. 2012. Confronting homelessness: Poverty, politics, and the failure of social policy. Social Problems, Social Constructions. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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    This book provides a major reconsideration of homelessness in the United States, casting a critical eye on how US society responds to crises of inequality and stratification. Incorporating local studies into a national narrative, the author analyzes how homelessness shifted from being the subject of a politically charged controversy over poverty and social class to posing a functional question of social-service delivery.

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  • Wasserman, J. A., and J. M. Clair. 2009. At home on the street: People, poverty, and a hidden culture of homelessness. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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    Wasserman and Clair argue that programs and policies addressing homeless people too often serve only to alienate them. The book delves into the complex realities of long-term homelessness to paint a gripping picture of individuals—not cases or pathologies—living on the street and of their strategies for daily survival. The authors explain how well-intentioned policies and programs often only widen the gap between the indigent and mainstream society.

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  • Wright, G. 1983. Building the dream: A social history of housing in America. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

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    This book is concerned essentially with the model of domestic environment in this country, as it has evolved from colonial architecture through current urban projects. The author presents a “bottom-up” analysis of housing in the United States, with an emphasis on its effects on urban residents and their neighborhoods. It provides valuable historical background for the political struggles over housing and homelessness policies that have occurred since the mid-1980s.

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Social Services

The term “social services” refers to those aspects of social welfare that seek to enhance individual, family, and community well-being other than through cash assistance, health care, or education. Several trends have marked the evolution of social services since the 1980s: the increased use of private-sector organizations, particularly for-profit organizations, in the delivery of social services, a phenomenon often referred to as “privatization”; the growing influence of corporate values on the structure and operations of nonprofit and public-sector organizations, a phenomenon labeled the “marketization” of social services; and the spread of faith-based organizations, often as a result of legislative or executive initiatives. Burt and Nightingale 2010 and Giele 2012 describe early-21st-century transformations in social services, particularly those that serve the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Frank and Glied 2006 discusses the evolution of mental health policies and services during the 20th century. Palley and Shdaimah 2014 examines the evolution of childcare policies since the late 20th century. Fabricant and Fisher 2002 analyzes the impact of late-20th-century policy changes on settlement houses, long a pillar of social services in the United States. Ammerman 2005, Brown and McKeown 1997, Cnaan and Boddie 2002, and Hackworth 2012 present different perspectives on the role of religious organizations in social service delivery. Singh 2013 compares the evolution of social services in the United States, which focus on the individual, to those in India, which emphasize social development.

  • Ammerman, N. T. 2005. Pillars of faith: American congregations and their partners. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Since the mid-1990s, faith-based social services have played an increasingly important role in the overall fabric of US social welfare. Based on survey research and interviews, this book describes the diverse traditions and the commonality of organizational strategy that characterize the more than 300,000 religious congregations in the United States. The author describes the discernible patterns of congregational life that fit their own history, tradition, and relationship to American society.

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  • Brown, D. M., and E. McKeown. 1997. The poor belong to us: Catholic charities and American welfare. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This book provides important historical background for the modern role of Catholic social services in the United States. The authors document the extraordinary efforts of Catholic volunteers to care for Catholic families and to resist Protestant and state intrusions at the local level, and they show how these initiatives provided the foundation for the development of the largest private system of social provision in the United States.

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  • Burt, M. R., and D. S. Nightingale. 2010. Repairing the U.S. social safety net. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

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    The rising poverty and unemployment rates triggered by the early-21st-century Great Recession are stark reminders of the need for a secure social safety net to provide economic security, to protect vulnerable families, and to promote equality. However, the United States falls behind other countries in accomplishing these goals. In this book, the authors outline an approach to strengthening the safety net and making a national commitment to end poverty.

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  • Cnaan, R. A., and S. C. Boddie. 2002. The invisible caring hand: American congregations and the provision of welfare. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    During the 1990s and into the first years of the 21st century, the US government promoted the expansion of faith-based social services, an initiative that inspired heated debate about the separation of church and state. On the basis of in-depth interviews with clergy and lay leaders in 251 congregations nationwide, this book reveals the many ways in which congregations are already working to care for people in need.

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  • Fabricant, M. B., and R. Fisher. 2002. Settlement houses under siege: The struggle to sustain community organizations in New York City. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    This book examines the past, present, and future of the settlement house in particular, and nonprofit community-based services as a whole. Since near the end of the 20th century, despite their critical role in American social welfare, settlement houses have been under attack, particularly in New York City. Cutbacks in social service funding during the late 1990s and the privatization of services left many nonprofit agencies in an untenable position.

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  • Frank, R. G., and S. A. Glied. 2006. Better but not well: Mental health policy in the United States since 1950. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    This book examines the well-being of people with mental illness in the United States since the mid-20th century, addressing issues such as economics, treatment, standards of living, rights, and stigma. The authors argue that people with mental illness—severe and persistent disorders as well as less serious mental health conditions—are faring better today than in the past, but largely as a result of unheralded and unexpected reasons.

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  • Giele, J. Z. 2012. Family policy and the American safety net. Contemporary Family Perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This book discusses the early-21st-century role of US government programs in providing a safety net against the new risks of modern life. It discusses those programs that enable families to perform their four universal obligations of caregiving, income provision, shelter, and transmission of citizenship. This means that childcare, health care, Social Security, unemployment insurance, housing, quality neighborhood schools, and anti-discrimination and immigration measures are all part of family policy.

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  • Hackworth, J. 2012. Faith based: Religious neoliberalism and the politics of welfare in the United States. Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation 11. Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia Press.

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    This book explores how since the early 1980s the religious Right has supported neoliberalism in the United States through forging an unusual coalition with secular allies that focused on welfare. Through case studies of gospel rescue missions, Habitat for Humanity, and religious charities in post-Katrina New Orleans, the author describes the theory and practice of faith-based welfare, revealing fundamental tensions between the religious and economic wings of the conservative movement.

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  • O’Connor, A. 2007. Social science for what? Philanthropy and the social question in a world turned rightside up. Russell Sage Foundation Centennial Volume. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book relates the historical successes and challenges of philanthropic social science, and asks how these foundations might continue to promote progressive social change. To counter the political inroads made by conservative organizations, the author argues that progressive philanthropic research foundations should look to the example of their founders to help foster a more democratic dialogue on important social issues, using empirical knowledge to engage ethical concerns about rising inequality.

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  • Palley, E., and C. S. Shdaimah. 2014. In our hands: The struggle for U.S. child care policy. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    This book explores the reasons behind the relative paucity of US childcare and childcare support. It examines the history of childcare advocacy and legislation in the United States, from the unsuccessful Child Care Development Act of the 1970s through the Obama administration’s Child Care Development Block Grant. The authors analyze the special-interests that have formed around existing policy, arguing that they limit the possibility for debate around US childcare policy.

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  • Singh, S., ed. 2013. Social work and social development: Perspectives from India and the United States. Chicago: Lyceum.

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    This book argues that in order to understand a country’s motivation for change and social action, one has to understand the evolution of its social services. This book compares the approaches of India and the United States to social work and social development. It highlights the similarities between the two countries, especially the cultural pluralism, democratic political structures, and policy commitments to social welfare.

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Causes and Consequences of Poverty

Although the US economy has grown substantially since 1980, poverty rates have remained consistently high. As a result of changes in the economy and social policy, long-term poverty and acute (or intensive) poverty have increased, particularly among African Americans and Latino/Latinas. Katz 2013 situates early-21st-century approaches to poverty in the context of American history. The essays in Danziger and Haveman 2001 examine the problem of poverty from the perspectives of economists, sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists. Gilder 2012 presents a conservative analysis of the causes and consequences of poverty, emphasizing the role of cultural values and norms. Schiller 2007 analyzes the economic sources of poverty in the United States, while Rank 2004 discusses the impact of poverty on all Americans. A number of books focus on specific dimensions of the issue of poverty. Danziger and Lin 2000 assesses the role of neighborhood environments, Edin and Lein 1997 analyzes how single mothers on welfare cope with their economic plight, and Edin and Nelson 2013 addresses the situations of low-income fathers in the inner city. O’Connor 2009 describes how social science research has been used in different eras to interpret and respond to the issue of poverty. Monea and Sawhill 2010 applies social-scientific methods to make projections about the scope and distribution of poverty in the future.

  • Danziger, S., and R. H. Haveman, eds. 2001. Understanding poverty. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This book focuses on the nature and extent of poverty in the United States at the dawn of the 21st century. The authors assess how the poor have fared in the market economy, what government programs have and have not accomplished, and what remains to be done. The book addresses the changes that occurred since 1980 in the labor market, family structure, and social policies that have affected poverty trends.

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  • Danziger, S., and A. C. Lin, eds. 2000. Coping with poverty: The social contexts of neighborhood, work, and family in the African-American community. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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    This book analyzes both conservative and liberal arguments about the causes and consequences of and solutions to poverty, with a particular focus on the modern experience of poverty in the African American community. It discusses the survival strategies of low-income families, the problems confronted by individuals in poverty at different stages of the life cycle, and the structural barriers to eliminating poverty at the beginning of the 21st century.

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  • Edin, K., and L. Lein. 1997. Making ends meet: How single mothers survive welfare and low-wage work. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    On the basis of in-depth interviews with dozens of single mothers on welfare, this book explodes many of the myths that have guided US antipoverty policy for decades. Published just after the passage of welfare reform in 1996, it challenges many of the underlying assumptions of the legislation and accurately forecasts the problems that ensued in its implementation. The authors also suggest some alternative strategies to assist this often-maligned population.

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  • Edin, K., and T. J. Nelson. 2013. Doing the best I can: Fatherhood in the inner city. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is frequently denounced as one of the leading social problems in the United States. This book challenges the assumptions behind this argument. The authors show how mammoth economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor, giving a realistic perspective on the significant obstacles faced by low-income men at every step in the familial process.

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  • Gilder, G. 2012. Wealth and poverty: A new edition for the twenty-first century. Washington, DC: Regnery.

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    In this updated edition of an influential classic of conservative ideas about social welfare, originally published in 1981, the author compares America’s current economic challenges with its past economic problems—particularly those of the late 1970s. Gilder argues that the redistributive policies of the Obama administration are doing more harm than good for the poor, and he promotes the case for supply-side economics, which shaped US policies in the 1980s. Foreword by Steve Forbes.

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  • Katz, M. B. 2013. The undeserving poor: America’s enduring confrontation with poverty. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    In this new edition of a classic first published in 1989 (New York: Pantheon) the author highlights how throughout American history, the poor have been regarded as people who do not deserve sympathy because they brought their poverty on themselves,—attitudes that have justified the nation’s mean-spirited treatment of the poor. The book examines other explanations of poverty besides personal failure, including place, resources, political economy, power, and market failure.

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  • Monea, E., and I. Sawhill. 2010. A simulation on future poverty in the United States. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

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    This analysis assesses the extent of poverty in the United States and the structural conditions that produce it in the aftermath of the Great Recession. On the basis of indicators in the early 21st century, it predicts what future levels of poverty will be. The authors also point out how social welfare policies could prevent their forecasts from coming true or could ameliorate the problems faced by people in poverty.

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  • O’Connor, A. 2009. Poverty knowledge: Social science, social policy, and the poor in twentieth-century U.S. history. Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    The book, first published in 2001, details important changes in the politics and organization and the substance of poverty knowledge. Tracing the genesis of a still-thriving poverty research industry from its roots in the War on Poverty, it demonstrates how research agendas were subsequently influenced by an emerging obsession with welfare reform. By the 1990s, the study of poverty became more about altering individual behavior and less about addressing structural inequality.

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  • Rank, M. R. 2004. One nation, underprivileged: Why American poverty affects us all. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195101683.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book explores the reasons behind the contradiction between the wealth of the United States as a nation and persistently high levels of poverty among its population. The book debunks many common myths about the poor, and provides a powerful new framework for addressing this social and economic problem. The author shows that for the first time that a significant percentage of Americans will experience poverty during their adult lifetimes.

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  • Schiller, B. R. 2007. The economics of poverty and discrimination. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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    The recurring editions of this book provide excellent longitudinal data and analysis on the economic sources of poverty and inequality in the United States. They also suggest detailed policy solutions to these persistence and seemingly intractable problems. The book is a valuable complement to descriptive histories of changes in US social welfare since the late 20th century.

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Antipoverty Policies

Since 1980, the US response to poverty has undergone a major transformation: from income support (maintenance) to the promotion of “work first” initiatives and the emphasis on support services. Several books analyze the American approach to poverty and propose alternate strategies to address this chronic problem. Written at different points during the past several decades, they reflect the evolution of US attitudes toward the poor and the focus of antipoverty policies. These include Blank 1997, Cancian and Danziger 2009, Danziger and Weinberg 1986, Quigley 2003, and Schorr and Schorr 1988, all of which present different varieties of a liberal perspective. By contrast, Mead 1992, Mead 2011, and Olasky 2000 reflect changes in conservative or neoliberal approaches to poverty. Gans 1995 provides a critical analysis of the history of US policies toward the poor up to the passage of welfare reform in 1996. Alesina and Glaeser 2004 compares antipoverty policies in the United States unfavorably to those in Europe.

  • Alesina, A., and E. L. Glaeser. 2004. Fighting poverty in the US and Europe: A world of difference. Rodolfo Debenedetti Lectures. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/0199267669.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book compares the diverse experience of the United States and European nations in combating poverty and inequality through government-sponsored policies. The authors discuss possible economic explanations, including different levels of pre-tax income, openness, and social mobility. They survey politico-historical differences in nations’ physical size, electoral and legal systems, political parties, and experience of war. They also examine their attitudes toward the poor and racial minorities, and, notions of social responsibility. Reprinted as recently as 2010.

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  • Blank, R. M. 1997. It takes a nation: A new agenda for fighting poverty. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    After investigating the changing nature of poverty in the late-20th-century United States, the author challenges these arguments and corrects the outright misinformation underlying much of the discourse about welfare in the 1990s. She demonstrates that governmental aid has been far more effective than most people think, and she explains that even private support for the poor depends extensively on public funds.

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  • Cancian, M., and S. H. Danziger, eds. 2009. Changing poverty, changing policies. Revised versions of papers presented at a conference held in May 2008 in Madison, WI. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book examines poverty levels and trends in comparative perspective and provides insights on antipoverty discourse at the beginning of the Obama administration. It addresses such topics as economic change and the structure of opportunity for less skilled workers; family structure, childbearing, and parental employment; immigration and poverty; trends in income support policy; workforce development as an antipoverty strategy; health care for the poor; and the politics of antipoverty policy.

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  • Danziger, S. H., and D. H. Weinberg, eds. 1986. Fighting poverty: What works and what doesn’t. Revised versions of papers presented at a conference held in December 1984 in Williamsburg, VA. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This book assesses the impact of antipoverty policies in the United States through the mid-1980s. The authors argue that comparisons of spending levels and poverty trends do not tell the whole story: these comparisons obscure the diversity of the poor population and the complex issues involved in evaluating policies. The authors’ account of past failures and their agenda for the next decade show clearly that much remained to be done.

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  • Gans, H. J. 1995. The war against the poor: The underclass and antipoverty policy. New York: Basic Books.

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    In this incisive critique of the origins and misuse of the term “underclass,” the author shows how this label has relegated a wide variety of people to a single condemned class, feared and despised by the rest of society. Probing the deep psychological, social, and political reasons why Americans seek to indict millions of poor citizens as “undeserving,” he calls for a ceasefire in the undeclared war against the poor.

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  • Mead, L. M. 1992. The new politics of poverty: The nonworking poor in America. New York: Basic Books.

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    This book reflects the climate of opinion in the United States in the late 1980s and 1990s regarding the problems of poor Americans. The author argues that passive poverty reflects defeatism on the part of Americans who often cannot or will not work at the jobs available more than lack of opportunity. He proposes concrete steps to overcome the inertia of the nonworking poor trapped in the welfare system.

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  • Mead, L. M. 2011. From prophecy to charity: How to help the poor. Values & Capitalism. Washington, DC: AEI.

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    Since the mid-1980s, The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars annually through private giving, corporate philanthropy, government aid, and other forms of charity. Nevertheless, international and domestic poverty persists. This book critiques the philosophical presuppositions of past and current endeavors to alleviate poverty and provides a framework to guide future efforts on the basis of charity rooted in love.

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  • Olasky, M. 2000. Compassionate conservatism: What it is, what it does, and how it can transform America. New York: Free Press.

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    This book offers solutions to many of the nation’s intractable social problems, on the basis of a new paradigm for how the government can and should intervene in the economy. The author argues that only faith, and deeply held beliefs, can do that. The book presents a unique vision of the triangular relationship between the state, our many churches, and our tens of thousands of charities.

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  • Quigley, W. P. 2003. Ending poverty as we know it: Guaranteeing a right to a job at a living wage. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    At the beginning of the 21st century, despite a decade of prosperity, tens of millions of people in the United States worked full-time and still lived in poverty. The author argues that it is time to ensure that those who want to work can do so, at a wage that enables them to afford reasonable shelter, clothing, and food. He provides an employment-based strategy to reduce poverty in the nation.

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  • Schorr, L. B., and D. Schorr. 1988. Within our reach: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage. New York: Anchor/Doubleday.

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    In this solidly researched book, the authors demonstrate that the knowledge and techniques exist to decrease the incidence of welfare dependency; poor, single-parent families; and alienated, uneducated youth. In addition to providing a detailed account of the problem, they describe twenty-four programs that have proved successful in changing the lives of seriously disadvantaged children. The book provides a snapshot of innovative antipoverty ideas at the end of the 1980s.

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Causes and Consequences of Inequality

Although the poverty rate in the United States has remained fairly stable since 1980, the extent of socioeconomic inequality has increased markedly, even during years of economic prosperity. Several books assess a broad range of economic, political, and policy factors that contribute to growing inequality in America. These include Danziger and Gottschalk 1995, Jenkins and Micklewright 2007, and Tilly 1998. Piketty 2014 presents a sweeping historical analysis that focuses primarily on the roots of inequality in capitalist economies. Other works address specific features of American inequality. Rank, et al. 2014 discusses how the pursuit of the “American Dream” in the context of growing inequality has deleterious consequences on people’s lives. Ehrenreich 2001 and Shipler 2005 examine the lives of the working poor. Murray 2012 focuses on the dramatic social and cultural changes among white Americans that have occurred since the 1960s, which, the author argues, are both cause and consequence of inequality. Handler and Hasenfeld 2007 analyzes how the focus on welfare recipients has distorted American approaches to inequality. Sen 1992 presents a revised conceptualization of inequality, which could lead to the development of different strategies to address it.

  • Danziger, S., and P. Gottschalk, eds. 1995. America unequal. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This book demonstrates how changes in the economy, public policies, technology, and family structure have contributed to rising economic inequality. The authors argue that poverty remains high because of an erosion of employment opportunities for less skilled workers, not because of an erosion of the work ethic, and because of a failure of government to do more for the poor and the middle class, not because of social programs.

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  • Ehrenreich, B. 2001. Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry Holt.

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    In this book, which was published as an e-book in 2013, the author goes “undercover” as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity. The book demonstrates that millions of Americans work full–time for poverty-level wages. The book reveals the reality of many working people in the United States, who struggle to survive despite being employed. It provides a unique view of how “prosperity” looks from the bottom.

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  • Handler, J. F., and Y. Hasenfeld. 2007. Blame welfare, ignore poverty and inequality. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    This book challenges the assumption that welfare reform was a success. It argues that while many single mothers left welfare, they have joined the working poor and fail to make a decent living. The book examines the persistent demonization of poor, single-mother families and proposes an alternative approach to reducing poverty and inequality that centers on a children’s allowance as basic income support coupled with jobs and universal childcare.

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  • Jenkins, S. P., and J. Micklewright, eds. 2007. Inequality and poverty re-examined. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Since the mid-1980s, scholars, politicians, and policymakers in the United States have paid increasing attention to poverty and inequality, but in ways that reflect the changing political and cultural climate. This book provides a guide to some of the new approaches that have been developed in light of international initiatives to reduce poverty and the increases in income inequality and poverty that have occurred across many Western nations since 1980.

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  • Murray, C. 2012. Coming apart: The state of white America, 1960–2010. New York: Crown Forum.

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    This book explores the transformation of US class structure over a half century, focusing on the impact on white Americans to emphasize that the trends the author describes do not solely affect minorities of color. The author asserts that a new upper class and a new lower class increasingly live in different cultures that diverge so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship.

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  • Piketty, T. 2014. Capital in the twenty-first century. Translated by A. Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.

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    This book places the growth of inequality in the United States since the mid-1980s, in its historical context. It examines the dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital, the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth in the future. The author demonstrates that the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth threatens to generate extreme inequalities.

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  • Rank, M. R., T. A. Hirschl, and K. A. Foster. 2014. Chasing the American Dream: Understanding what shapes our fortunes. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The authors analyze the tension between the promise of economic opportunities and rewards and the amount of turmoil that Americans encounter in their quest for those rewards. They explore various questions: What percentage of Americans achieves affluence, and how much income mobility do we actually have? How is it that nearly 80 percent of us will experience significant economic insecurity at some point between ages twenty-five and sixty?

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  • Sen, A. 1992. Inequality reexamined. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    The author argues that the dictum “all men are created equal” serves largely to deflect attention from the fact that we differ in age, gender, talents, and physical abilities, as well as in material advantages and social background. The author argues for concentrating on higher and more-basic values: individual capabilities and freedom to achieve objectives. This book introduced the concept of the “capabilities perspective” to the discourse on social justice.

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  • Shipler, D. K. 2005. The working poor: Invisible in America. New York: Vintage.

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    This book explores the lives of store clerks and factory workers, farm laborers and sweatshop seamstresses, and illegal immigrants in menial jobs, a population referred to as the working poor, which includes Americans of all races and geographic regions. The author shows how both liberals and conservatives are partly right in their approaches to this issue—that practically every life story contains failure both by the society and the individual.

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  • Tilly, C. 1998. Durable inequality. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    This book presents a framework that can be applied to the growing inequality that emerged in the United States since 1980. It examines how long-lasting, systematic inequalities in life chances arise, and how they come to distinguish members of different socially defined categories of persons. This account focuses on process. The author argues that the basic causes of gender, racial, and class inequalities greatly resemble one another.

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Inequality and Social Policy

Although US policymakers have paid less attention to the problem of poverty since the mid-1980s, they have focused even less on the issue of inequality, despite the recent “occupy” movement. These books analyze how policy changes since the late 20th century have often exacerbated poverty and inequality in the United States, and how they reflect new economic, political, and ideological imperatives. Allard 2009 and Wacquant 2009 focus primarily on the policy changes that have occurred since the adoption of welfare reform in 1996 and their impact on impoverished Americans. Katz and Stern 2006 frames this issue in broader comparative historical perspective, and Kaus 1995 and Reich 1992 illustrate the perspectives of liberals in the early 1990s. Skocpol 2000 analyzes the impact of public policy changes on the American middle class, and Reiman and Leighton 2013 and Western 2006 discuss how inequality in the United States is reflected in its policies on criminal justice. Soss, et al. 2007 focuses on the political ramifications of inequality, while White 2007 suggests ways a revised conceptualization of equality could inform public policy.

  • Allard, S. W. 2009. Out of reach: Place, poverty, and the new American welfare state. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    This book describes the sweeping changes in welfare programs since 1996, which have transformed the way the United States cares for individuals and families in poverty. It discusses the shift from cash payments to service programs targeted at the working poor, the author that the new system has become less equitable and reliable, and concludes with policy recommendations that address some of the more-pressing issues in improving the safety net.

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  • Katz, M. B., and M. J. Stern. 2006. One nation divisible: What America was and what it is becoming. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    The authors assert that American society in the 21st century is hardly recognizable from what it was in the early 20th century. Nevertheless, many of the same factors that revolutionized life in the late 19th century—immigration, globalization, technology, and shifting social norms—persist as do many similar problems, including economic, social, and racial inequality. The authors show how American life has changed while inequality and diversity have endured.

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  • Kaus, M. 1995. The end of equality. 2d ed. New York: Basic Books.

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    This book shows that the great unfinished business of American liberalism is not to equalize money but to limit the spheres in which money matters. Written in the mid-1990s, it is particularly relevant today as politics in the United States is being transformed by the consequences of the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, which has produced an enormous increase in campaign contributions by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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  • Reich, R. B. 1992. The work of nations: Preparing ourselves for 21st-century capitalism. New York: Vintage.

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    Written in the early 1990s, the author presciently argues that economic globalization has transformed the nature of work in the United States and that an “American economy” no longer exists. He examines what it means to be a nation when money, goods, and services know no borders, and he explores various questions including how can our country best ensure that all its citizens have a share in the new global economy?

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  • Reiman, J., and P. Leighton. 2013. The rich get richer and the poor get prison: Ideology, class and criminal justice. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    This text argues that the system of criminal justice is biased against the poor from start to finish. It discusses how this bias is accompanied with a general refusal to remedy the causes of crime—poverty, lack of education, and discrimination. The authors argue that actions of well-off people produce just as much death, destruction, and financial loss as so-called crimes of the poor.

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  • Skocpol, T. 2000. The missing middle: Working families and the future of American social policy. New York: W. W. Norton.

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    The author argues that political discourse in the United States rarely addresses the needs of average working men and women of modest means. She describes the history of this disturbing trend and reveals the repercussions of what she refers to as the increasingly simplistic and moralistic stands our politicians take. The book concludes with a powerful case for family-oriented populism and identifies the bold reforms needed to revitalize American democracy.

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  • Soss, J., J. S. Hacker, and S. Mettler, eds. 2007. Remaking America: Democracy and public policy in an age of inequality. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    These essays explore the relationship between political democracy and social inequality, and the role played by declining political participation since the late 20th century in shaping the direction of US social policy. Written before the Citizens United decision, the book identifies the major barriers to more democratic political participation and suggests how the political process could be reformed to enable more Americans to have a voice in the nation’s direction.

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  • Wacquant, L. 2009. Punishing the poor: The neoliberal government of social insecurity. Politics, History, and Culture. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822392255Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author argues that the punitive turn of penal policy in the United States during the past several decades represents a response to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethno-racial hierarchy produced by demographic changes. The book analyzes developments in welfare and criminal justice in a single framework that examines the instrumental and communicative components of early-21st-century public policy.

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  • Western, B. 2006. Punishment and inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Since the mid-1980s, the prison population in the United States has increased more than sevenfold to over two million people, including vastly disproportionate numbers of minorities and people with little education. This book explores the modern era of mass incarceration and the serious social and economic consequences it has wrought. It dispels many of the myths about the relationships among crime, imprisonment, and inequality.

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  • White, S. 2007. Equality. Kay Concepts in the Social Sciences. Malden, MA: Polity.

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    These essays examine the meaning of equality and inequality in early-21st-century society both from a philosophical and a practical perspective. They explore the roots of modern inequality, the justifications used to rationalize its persistence, and its social and political consequences. The author discusses the question of what true equality would look like in modern society. He analyzes different conceptions of equality and what their practical policy implications would be.

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Race, Poverty, and Inequality

The most powerful manifestation of poverty and inequality in the United States is the growing economic and disparities along racial lines. Since 1980, African Americans and Latinos are 2.5–3 times more likely to be poor and have consistently worse indicators in the areas of employment, health, housing, and educational attainment. DiTomaso 2013 and Lin and Harris 2008 address the multiple dimensions of this issue in the early-21st-century United States. Katznelson 2005 traces the history of racial inequality in the United States, with a particular emphasis on how policies favored white Americans. Other works focus on specific aspects of the issue. Lui, et al. 2006; Oliver and Shapiro 2006; and Shapiro 2004 address the history and current status of the racial wealth divide in America. Kozol 2000 analyzes the impact of racially based poverty and inequality on children. Smedley, et al. 2003 analyzes the health consequences of persistent racial inequality, while Alexander 2012 discusses how mass incarceration has become a means to sustain racial inequality.

  • Alexander, M. 2012. The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. Rev. ed. New York: New Press.

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    This book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signaled a new era of colorblindness. The author argues that by targeting African American men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the US criminal justice system functions as a modern system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

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  • DiTomaso, N. 2013. The American non-dilemma: Racial inequality without racism. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    The author argues that America’s enduring racial divide is sustained more by whites’ preferential treatment of members of their own social networks than by overt racial discrimination. The author demonstrates that while the vast majority of whites profess strong support for civil rights and equal opportunity regardless of race, they continue to pursue their own group-based advantage, especially in the labor market.

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  • Katznelson, I. 2005. When affirmative action was white: An untold history of racial inequality in twentieth-century America. New York: W. W. Norton.

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    This book recasts our understanding of 20th-century American history and demonstrates that the major programs passed during the New Deal and Fair Deal era of the 1930s and 1940s were created in a deeply discriminatory manner. By examining the effects of policy developments during the second half of the 20th century, this book attempts to change the terms of debate about affirmative action, and about this period of American history.

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  • Kozol, J. 2000. Amazing grace: The lives of children and the conscience of a nation. New York: Perennial.

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    This book, first published in 1995 (New York: Crown), focuses on life and death in the South Bronx—which, at the time was the poorest urban neighborhood of the United States. The author describes overcrowded schools, dysfunctional hospitals, and rat-infested homes where families have been ravaged by depression and anxiety, drug-related violence, and the spread of AIDS. He introduces us to devoted and unselfish teachers, dedicated ministers, and courageous and delightful children.

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  • Lin, A. C., and D. R. Harris, eds. 2008. The colors of poverty: Why racial and ethnic disparities exist. National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This is a comprehensive introduction to the dynamics of race and inequality. It analyzes the complex mechanisms that connect poverty and race, and emphasizes the cumulative effects of disadvantage in perpetuating inter-generational poverty. Essays focus on the relationship between the treatment of former felons and racial gaps in educational achievement, the differential treatment of racial minorities among the states, and the complementary roles of culture and structure in producing racial disparities.

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  • Lui, M., B. Robles, B. Leondar-Wright, R. Brewer, and R. Adamson. 2006. The color of wealth: The story behind the U.S. racial wealth divide. New York: New Press.

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    Written by five leading experts on the racial wealth divide, this book is a comprehensive multicultural history of American wealth. The authors assert that people of color have been barred by laws and by discrimination from participating in government wealth-building programs that benefit white Americans. They argue that unless government policies address racial disparities in wealth, not just income, the United States will not achieve racial or economic justice.

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  • Oliver, M. L., and T. M. Shapiro. 2006. Black wealth / white wealth: A new perspective on racial inequality. 2d ed. New York: Routledge.

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    This book, originally published in 1995, is a classic exploration of race and inequality. It provided, for the first time, systematic empirical evidence that explained the racial inequality gap between blacks and whites. This tenth-anniversary edition contains two entirely new and substantive chapters that look at the continuing issues of wealth and inequality in America and the new policies that have been launched between 1995 and 2005.

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  • Shapiro, T. M. 2004. The hidden cost of being African-American: How wealth perpetuates inequality. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This book argues that despite the significant decline in racial prejudice since the early 1980s, fundamental levels of racial inequality persist in the United States, particularly regarding asset accumulation. The author reveals how the lack of assets, and continuing racial discrimination in crucial areas such as homeownership, dramatically affect the lives of many African American families, reversing gains earned in schools and on jobs and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

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  • Smedley, B. D., A. Y. Stith, and A. R. Nelson, eds. 2003. Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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    This book documents how race and ethnicity remain significant predictors of the quality of health care received and how racial and ethnic disparities in health care are a consequence of access to care and other health-related issues that arise from differing socioeconomic conditions. The book explores how persons of color experience the health-care environment, and it examines how disparities in treatment may arise in health-care systems.

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Racial Inequality and Social Policy

These books address the consequences of modern American social welfare policies on racial minorities. The essays in Davis and Bent-Goodley 2004 cover a wide range of policy areas and provide a comparative historical perspective. Brown 1999 and Conley 1999 focus primarily on policies that address issues of economic security. Hamilton and Hamilton 1997 addresses the role of African Americans in attempting to influence the direction of US social welfare policies. Lieberman 1998 and Ward 2005 examine the impact on people of color of the transformation and racialization of the US welfare state. Watkins-Hayes 2009 assesses the changes that have occurred in public-sector policies and organizations since the introduction of welfare reform. Quadagno 1994 discusses how racism undermined the goals of antipoverty policies. Schiele 2011 and Soss, et al. 2011 emphasize how social policies have been used as a means of social control with particularly deleterious effects on persons of color.

  • Brown, M. K. 1999. Race, money, and the American welfare state. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    During the 1980s and 1990s, conservative critics of the welfare state often blamed its policies for exacerbating the social problems confronting African Americans. In this book, the author contends that our welfare system has denied African Americans the social provision it gives white citizens while stigmatizing them as recipients of government benefits. The author addresses the implications of his argument both for conservative and liberal critiques of anti-poverty policies.

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  • Conley, D. 1999. Being black, living in the red: Race, wealth, and social policy in America. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    This book demonstrates that many differences between African Americans and whites stem not from race but from economic inequalities that have accumulated over the course of American history. Property ownership—as measured by net worth—reflects this legacy of economic oppression. The racial discrepancy in wealth has produced advantages for whites: better schools, more-desirable residences, higher wages, and more opportunities to save, invest, and thereby further their economic advantages.

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  • Davis, K. E., and T. B. Bent-Goodley, eds. 2004. The color of social policy. Advancing Social Work Education. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

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    This book examines several centuries of social policies aimed at the control of people of color in the United States, from the earliest years of the nation to the early 21st century. The chapters identify common points of concern connecting people of color, through carefully researched analyses of important social issues in health and mental health care, child welfare, domestic violence, juvenile and criminal justice, social security, and welfare reform.

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  • Hamilton, D. C., and C. V. Hamilton. 1997. The dual agenda: Race and social welfare policies of civil rights organizations. Power, Conflict, and Democracy. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    This book traces the role of civil rights organizations in promoting a “dual agenda”—the expansion of civil rights for African Americans and other persons of color and the enhancement of social welfare policies that addressed their needs—from the New Deal through the mid-1990s. It demonstrates how these goals both complemented and conflicted with each other and how they shifted in response to the changing US political climate.

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  • Lieberman, R. C. 1998. Shifting the color line: Race and the American welfare state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This book explores the historical and political roots of enduring racial conflict in American welfare policy, beginning with the New Deal. While programs such as Social Security successfully integrated white workers into a strong national welfare state, disproportionately poor African Americans have been relegated to the margins of the welfare state, through decentralized, often-racist public assistance programs. The author argues that these institutional differences had fateful consequences for African Americans.

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  • Quadagno, J. 1994. The color of welfare: How racism undermined the War on Poverty. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The author argues that racism has undermined the goals of the 1960s War on Poverty. She contends that although antipoverty programs have accomplished much, they have not been fully realized because they became inextricably intertwined with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which eventually alienated white, working-class Americans, who had some of the same needs but who got very little from these programs.

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  • Schiele, J. H., ed. 2011. Social welfare policy: Regulation and resistance among people of color. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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    This book uses a racism-centered perspective of social welfare policy analysis to examine how such policies have regulated the lives of people of color. It illuminates the need for culturally competent practitioners of social welfare policy, illustrating how racism continues to be at the center of many early-21st-century social problems such as issues of employment, public and bilingual education, housing and residential patterns, citizens’ rights, and affirmative action.

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  • Soss, J., R. C. Fording, and S. F. Schram. 2011. Disciplining the poor: Neoliberal paternalism and the persistent power of race. Chicago Studies in American Politics. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226768786.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book explains the transformation of poverty governance since the early 1970s—and clarifies the central role of race in this transformation. Connecting welfare reform to other policy developments, the authors analyze diverse forms of data to explicate the racialized origins, operations, and consequences of a new mode of poverty governance that is simultaneously neoliberal—grounded in market principles—and paternalist—focused on telling the poor what is best for them.

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  • Ward, D. E. 2005. The white welfare state: The racialization of U.S. welfare policy. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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    The author argues that race has always been central to welfare policymaking in the United States, from the late 19th century to the present. She demonstrates that programs from Mothers’ Pensions to modern welfare programs have been premised on a policy of racial discrimination against blacks and other minorities and have been driven by debates about who “deserved” social welfare and not who needed it the most.

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  • Watkins-Hayes, C. 2009. The new welfare bureaucrats: Entanglements of race, class, and policy reform. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226874937.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the welfare bureaucracy that people face when they seek assistance. The author argues that this system has undergone massive change since the advent of welfare reform in 1996. It examines how welfare officials navigate the increasingly tangled political and emotional terrain of their jobs, and it provides insight into the impact of the institutional and policy changes wrought by welfare reform.

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Women’s Issues

Although social work has generally been considered a “women’s profession” in the United States, social welfare policies have largely failed to address women’s needs adequately. In the early 21st-century, an anti-female attitude has increasingly characterized policy developments, such as welfare reform. Abramovitz 1996 places modern developments in the broader context of US policies affecting women. Nussbaum 2000 provides a sweeping examination of the relationship between gender and social justice. Other works address modern examples of the condition and treatment of women. Johnson, et al. 2010 focuses on the economic status of low-income women in the aftermath of welfare reform, while Karamessini and Rubery 2014 assesses these women’s current and future economic status as a result of the Great Recession. Dodson 1999 examines both the economic and social plight of women in poverty. Mandell 2010 discusses the crisis of caregiving in the United States and the failure of policymakers to respond to this crisis, and Levitsky 2014 explores the reasons behind the lack of political pressure to address this crisis. Purvin 2007 and Smith 2007 link policy developments since the end of the 20th century to issues of social control: Diane Purvin focuses on the connection between welfare policy and domestic violence; Anna Marie Smith examines how welfare reform promotes the sexual regulation of women. Stein 1998 describes the US response to the needs of women and children with HIV/AIDS.

  • Abramovitz, M. 1996. Regulating the lives of women: Social welfare policy from colonial times to the present. Rev. ed. Boston: South End.

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    This book examines the history of social welfare in the United States from a feminist perspective. It examines the changes in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Social Security, and unemployment insurance, and welfare “reform” that occurred during the past several decades. It reveals how welfare policy increasingly scapegoats women to justify widespread retrenchment and to divert the public’s attention from the real causes of its economic woes.

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  • Dodson, L. 1999. Don’t call us out of name: The untold lives of women and girls in poor America. Boston: Beacon.

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    This book examines the conditions of women and girls in the United States who are living below the poverty line. It challenges the conventional attitudes and stereotypes of low-income women that produced the “welfare reform” policies at the end of the 20th century. The author documents the lives of hundreds of girls and women from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, through personal interviews, focus groups, surveys, and life history studies.

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  • Johnson, R. C., A. Kalil, R. E. Dunifon, and B. Ray. 2010. Mothers’ work and children’s lives: Low-income families after welfare reform. Kalamazoo, MI: W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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    This book focuses on women’s struggle to maintain a tenuous work-family balance and its effects on children. The authors argue that work per se is not detrimental for single-mother families; it is the nature of the work—the type of work, the number of hours worked, and the flexibility of the job—that is a key factor in maintaining an acceptable balance and in promoting positive outcomes for their children.

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  • Karamessini, M., and J. Rubery, eds. 2014. Women and austerity: The economic crisis and the future for gender equality. Routledge IAFFE Advances in Feminist Economics 11. London: Routledge.

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    This book argues that fiscal austerity in Europe and the United States reverses past progress toward gender equality by undermining important employment and social welfare protections. The findings demonstrate that in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, employment gaps between women and men declined—but due only to a deterioration in men’s employment position rather than any improvements for women.

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  • Levitsky, S. R. 2014. Caring for our own: Why there is no political demand for new American social welfare rights. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199993123.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book addresses the challenges created by an aging US population and dramatic changes in health-care provision, household structure, and women’s labor force participation since the 1960s. The demand for care of the old and infirm has increased while the supply of private family care is substantially contracting. This book examines why American families do not consider these unmet needs to be the basis for demands for new state entitlements.

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  • Mandell, B. R., ed. 2010. The crisis of caregiving: Social welfare policy in the United States. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230107847Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book discusses the crisis of caregiving that affects parents seeking to provide good care for their children, or their aged or disabled relatives. It includes essays on different components of caregiving and the diverse challenges that exist in caregiving for different populations. The authors discuss policy alternatives to the current welfare system, a description of the current safety-net programs, and an analysis of the privatization of social services.

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  • Nussbaum, M. C. 2000. Sex and social justice. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112108.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    These essays examine the needs of women in a global context. The author presents a distinctive conception of feminism that links feminist inquiry closely to the important progress that has been made since the late 20th century in articulating theories both of national and global justice. The author argues for a universal account of human capacity and need, while emphasizing the essential role of knowledge of local circumstance.

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  • Purvin, D. M. 2007. At the crossroads and in the crosshairs: Social welfare policy and low-income women’s vulnerability to domestic violence. Social Problems 54.2: 188–210.

    DOI: 10.1525/sp.2007.54.2.188Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author explores the impact of abused mothers’ interactions with various social welfare policy systems on their ability to protect themselves and their children from domestic violence. She demonstrates that policies that provided protection and security to some families placed others at increased risk. The author discusses some policy successes and failures since the end of the 20th century, the important role of frontline workers, and the importance of expanding research to include the structural forces affecting family life.

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  • Smith, A. M. 2007. Welfare reform and sexual regulation. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511619106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book explores the scope and structure of the measures pertaining to child support enforcement, family cap, marriage promotion, and abstinence education that are embedded within modern US welfare policy. The author argues that these measures violate the rights of poor mothers and that welfare policy has consistently constructed the sexual conduct of the racialized poor mother as one of its primary disciplinary targets.

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  • Stein, T. J. 1998. The social welfare of women and children with HIV and AIDS: Legal protections, policy, and programs. Child Welfare. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195109429.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book examines the consequences of the rapid increase in HIV infection among heterosexual women that occurred during the 1990s, including discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and education. It explores such topics as medical testing, confidentiality, reproductive freedom, income assistance, child welfare, and child custody. The author provides a comprehensive overview of public policy regarding these issues, focusing on the statutes that protect women and children with HIV/AIDS from discrimination.

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Employment and Employment Policy

Although US policy has also evidenced a preference for work over welfare, the nation has done little since the late 20th century to create jobs or prepare workers for the economy of the future. Since 1980, this problem has become more acute as a consequence of economic globalization and the early-21st-century economic crisis. Debouzy 2009 discusses the changes that have occurred in the early 21st century in the status of American workers. Swenson 2002 describes the role that changing markets played in affecting the conditions of workers in the United States and Sweden. Tilly and Tilly 1998 analyzes these changes in a sophisticated theoretical framework. Several books written at different times since the 1980s take a broad perspective on this issue and suggest alternative approaches to employment policy; these include Alperovitz 2013, Bartik and Houseman 2008, Hornbeck and Salamon 1991, and Reich 2001. Others address specific aspects of this issue. Barr, et al. 2007 suggests ways to build more-inclusive financial institutions, Heinrich and Scholz 2009 focuses on the needs of low-income workers and families, and Schor 1992 and Ciulla 2000 discuss the impact of the changing nature of employment on the balance between Americans’ leisure time and work.

  • Alperovitz, G. 2013. What then must we do? Straight talk about the next American revolution. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.

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    This book addresses the increasing frustration many Americans feel about the nation’s economic system in the aftermath of the Great Recession, and it presents some radical proposals for the construction of a new economy. The author proposes a possible next system that would democratize the ownership of wealth, strengthen communities in diverse ways, and be governed by policies and institutions sophisticated enough to manage a large-scale, powerful economy.

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  • Barr, M. S., A. Kumar, and R. E. Litan, eds. 2007. Building inclusive financial systems: A framework for financial access. Papers presented at the seventh annual Financial Markets and Development conference, held 30–31 May 2006 in Washington, DC. Emerging Markets. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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    The authors argue that broad-based and inclusive financial systems significantly raise growth, alleviate poverty, and expand economic opportunity. They point out that many households, small enterprises, and the rural poor often have difficulty obtaining financial services for many reasons. The book addresses the challenges of making financial systems more inclusive, emulating successful ventures in new markets, and utilizing technologies and government policies to support the expansion of financial access.

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  • Bartik, T. J., and S. N. Houseman, eds. 2008. A future of good jobs? America’s challenge in the global economy. Kalamazoo, MI: W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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    This book examines the issue: Can the US economy generate healthy growth of good jobs that will ensure a steady improvement in the standard of living for the middle class and offer a way out of poverty for low-income Americans? In its essays, leading policy analysts examine the challenges facing US labor market policy and propose concrete steps to make American workers and employers more competitive in a global economy.

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  • Ciulla, J. B. 2000. The working life: The promise and betrayal of modern work. New York: Three Rivers.

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    This book examines why so many people at the end of the 20th century had let their jobs take over their lives. It examines why Americans work longer hours, despite the introduction of “labor-saving” technology, and it assesses the impact of the dissolution of the long-standing social contract between employers and employees. It traces the evolution of the meaning of work, and changes that had occurred in late-20th-century management practices.

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  • Debouzy, M. 2009. Le monde du travail aux Etats-Unis: Les temps difficiles (1980–2005). Logiques Sociales. Paris: L’Harmattan.

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    Translates as “The world of work in the United States: The difficult times (1980–2005).” This book analyzes the impact of economic transformation on the American workforce between the Reagan administration and the late 1990s. It contrasts developments in the late 20th century with those of the post–World War II era, discusses how the nature of employment changed over this twenty-five-year period and how the policy decisions that emerged during this quarter century exacerbated social and economic inequality in the United States.

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  • Heinrich, C. J., and J. K. Scholz, eds. 2009. Making the work-based safety net work better: Forward-looking policies to help low-income families. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    The 1996 welfare reform legislation emphasized work in improving the lives of low-income families. This book examines eight areas of the safety net where families are falling through, describing how early-21st-century policies and institutions could evolve to enhance the self-sufficiency of low-income families. It focuses on labor market policies and the minimum wage, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the relationship between work and improved parenting, psychological health, and child achievement.

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  • Hornbeck, D. W., and L. M. Salamon, eds. 1991. Human capital and America’s future: An economic strategy for the ’90s. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    Written prior to the major economic and policy changes that occurred during the Clinton administration, this book provides a snapshot of liberal ideas regarding future economic policies in a rapidly changing global context. It focuses on the importance of public policy as a tool for human capital development, which it regards as critical to the success of the US economy in the decades ahead.

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  • Reich, R. B. 2001. The future of success. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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    This book argues that many Americans may be earning more than ever before, but they are paying a steep price in longer hours, less family time, and fragmented communities. The author demonstrates that although we have more choices as consumers, and investors, the choices are undermining the rest of our lives. He also argues our society is splitting into socially stratified enclaves, with particularly deleterious consequences for low-income families.

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  • Schor, J. B. 1992. The overworked American: The unexpected decline of leisure. New York: Basic.

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    This book explains why, contrary to expectations, Americans were working harder than ever in the late 20th century. The author demonstrates that over the previous twenty years Americans’ working hours had increased by the equivalent of one month per year, a change that affected all social classes. She asks why Americans, unlike other industrialized Western nations, opt for money over time, and what can we do to change this trend?

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  • Swenson, P. A. 2002. Capitalists against markets: The making of labor markets and welfare states in the United States and Sweden. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/0195142977.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book challenges the conventional wisdom that welfare state builders took their cues from labor and other progressive interests. Instead, the author argues, pragmatic social reformers looked for support from above, taking into account capitalists’ interests and preferences. The book illuminates the political conditions for greater economic equality and social security in capitalist societies and presents an alternative interpretation of developments in US social welfare during the previous several decades.

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  • Tilly, C., and C. Tilly. 1998. Work under capitalism. New Perspectives in Sociology. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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    This book synthesizes then-recent institutionalist and Marxist ideas about the organization of production in a global political-economic environment, situating production within a social context. It builds upon a coherent theory and applies it to a wide range of experience, from household labor to transformations of health care in Great Britain and the United States. This analysis sheds new light on persisting inequalities by race and gender in the labor market.

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Income and Assets Policies

A perennial issue within US policymaking circles has focused on how to enhance the income of American workers and their families. This issue has become particularly significant since 1980 because of the decline in average weekly earnings, even as the US economy continues to grow. Several books written prior to the impact of the Great Recession assess the plight of America’s working families and the impact of a family’s economic status on the prospects of their children. These books include Blau 1999; Bowles, et al. 2005; Ciulla 2000 (cited under Employment and Employment Policy); and Levitan, et al. 1993. Others—for example, Grusky, et al. 2011 and Wolff 2009—update these analyses to the post–Great Recession period. Ehrenreich 1989 and Ehrenreich 2005 focus on the crisis of the American middle class. Sherraden 1991, Iversen and Armstrong 2006, and Speth 2012 propose different policy solutions to the problems confronting low- and middle-income Americans.

  • Blau, J. 1999. Illusions of prosperity: America’s working families in an age of economic insecurity. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Despite the current emphasis on free-market solutions to social problems, these solutions have failed to improve the lives of most US working families. This book challenges these long-standing assumptions by examining late-20th-century reforms in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), education, job training, and welfare. The author argues that these policies have made matters worse, and he calls for a stronger, more caring government to counter the market’s debilitating effects.

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  • Bowles, S., H. Gintis, and M. Osborne Groves, eds. 2005. Unequal chances: Family background and economic success. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    This book presents early-21st-century estimates that show that intergenerational inequality in the United States is far greater than was previously thought. The authors argue that the inheritance of wealth and better schooling do not fully account for the success of the upper class; nor does the genetic inheritance of IQ. The authors assert that parent-offspring similarities in personality and behavior may play an important role in intergenerational status transmission.

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  • Ehrenreich, B. 1989. Fear of falling: The inner life of the middle class. New York: Pantheon.

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    This work examines the insecurities of the middle class in an attempt to explain its embrace of more-conservative political positions during the 1980s. It traces the myths about the middle class to their roots in the ambitions and anxieties that torment the group and that have led to its retreat from a responsible leadership role. It accurately forecasts the advent of 21st-century conservative movements such as the Tea Party.

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  • Ehrenreich, N. 2005. Bait and switch: The (futile) pursuit of the American Dream. New York: Henry Holt.

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    This book describes how Americans’ working lives are growing more precarious every day as a consequence of layoffs, outsourcing, and cutbacks in long-standing benefits and pensions. It highlights the experiences of people who have done everything right yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster because of the lack of adequate social supports for these newly disposable workers, resulting in little security even for those who have jobs.

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  • Grusky, D. B., B. Western, and C. Wimer, eds. 2011. The Great Recession. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book is the first authoritative assessment of how the aftershocks of the recession are affecting individuals and families, jobs, earnings and poverty, political and social attitudes, lifestyle and consumption practices, and charitable giving. Focused on individual-level effects rather than institutional causes, the essays examine whether the economic aftermath caused by the recession is transforming how Americans live their lives, what they believe in, and the institutions they rely on.

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  • Iversen, R. R., and A. L. Armstrong. 2006. Jobs aren’t enough: Toward a new economic mobility for low-income families. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    The authors of this ethnographic account examine the obstacles to economic mobility for low- and, increasingly, for middle-income families in 21st-century America. They show that the historical myths about opportunity, merit, and “bootstraps” are outdated and, in some cases, downright dangerous for many urban workers and their families. They argue that the social institutions of family, education, labor market, and policy all intersect to influence mobility.

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  • Levitan, S. A., F. Gallo, and I. Shapiro. 1993. Working but poor: America’s contradiction. Rev. ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    Revised and expanded for the 1990s, this new edition examines the experiences and hardships of that decade’s poor workers and analyzes how government policies can best relieve deprivation and encourage work. In profiles of poor workers, the authors examine the severity of income problems and analyze the nature of low-wage job markets. They also assess the impact of unemployment, technological developments, immigration, and international trade on this complex problem.

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  • Sherraden, M. 1991. Assets and the poor: A new American welfare policy. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

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    This work proposes a new approach to welfare: a social policy that goes beyond simple income maintenance to foster individual initiative and self-sufficiency. It argues for an asset-based policy that would create a system of saving incentives through individual development accounts (IDAs) for specific purposes, such as college education, homeownership, self-employment, and retirement security. In this way, low-income Americans could gain the same opportunities that middle- and upper-income citizens have.

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  • Speth, J. G. 2012. America the possible: Manifesto for a new economy. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    In this third volume of his American Crisis series, the author examines the array of social and economic problems confronting the United States in the early 21st century and presents a range of policy solutions for a better future. The book identifies a dozen features of the American political economy and spells out the specific changes that are needed to move toward a new sustainable and more humane political economy.

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  • Wolff, E. N. 2009. Poverty and income distribution. 2d ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

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    Written by a leading scholar in the field, this textbook provides a thorough introduction to the topic of income distribution and poverty, with additional emphasis on the issues of inequality and discrimination. It includes valuable statistical data, including optional econometric studies. It also places current conditions in the United States in an international context.

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Education and Educational Policy

Educational policy has been an arena of considerable controversy in the United States since the early 1980s. Wide differences exist among policymakers and advocates about the purpose and effectiveness of public schools, the role of government in developing and implementing education policy, and solutions to the growing gap in educational outcomes along racial and class lines. Several books assess the shifting politics of educational policy since 1980 and its implications for the nation’s educational system. These include Henig 2013, Katz and Rose 2013, and Spring 2005. Other books address the presence of racial and class inequalities in the American educational system. These include Kozol 1991, Shavit and Blossfeld 1993, and Rothstein 2004. Two books—Herrnstein and Murray 1994 and Fischer, et al. 1996—take conflicting positions on the role of hereditary intelligence in determining student outcomes. Ravitch 2010 and Shaker and Heilman 2008 present alternative policy solutions to the problems that confront the nation’s educational system.

  • Fischer, C. S., M. Hout, M. S. Jankowski, S. R. Lucas, A. Swidler, and K. Voss. 1996. Inequality by design: Cracking the bell curve myth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    In this book the authors refute the claims in The Bell Curve (Herrnstein and Murray 1994) that inherited differences in intelligence explain inequality. They offer a powerful alternative explanation—that economic fortune depends more on social circumstances than on IQ and discuss how social policy changes have widened the gap between the rich and the rest of Americans since the 1970s.

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  • Henig, J. R. 2013. The end of exceptionalism in American education: The changing politics of school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education.

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    Since the 1960s, the “special” status of education decision making has been eroded. Once the province of local and state school boards, decisions about schools and schooling have begun to emerge in every level and branch of government. This book traces the roots of this dramatic shift in school governance and assesses its consequences for American education. It contributes to our understanding of education policy in the future.

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  • Herrnstein, R. J., and C. Murray. 1994. The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press.

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    This controversial book proposes that intelligence in modern society is a consequence of one’s class and race. Differences in educational outcomes, therefore, can be explained by hereditary circumstances, rather than social conditions. The authors suggest ways in which public policy could mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty. The book reflects contentions in discourse on US social welfare during the mid-1990s.

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  • Katz, M. B., and M. Rose, eds. 2013. Public education under siege. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

    DOI: 10.9783/9780812208320Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book discusses early-21st-century changes in the US education system that produced enormous variance in the resources available to children in different communities. It also analyzes why racial and ethnic segregation remains commonplace despite landmark cases of the civil rights movement and ongoing pushes to enact diverse and inclusive curricula. The authors argue for an alternative to the test-driven, market-oriented core of the current reform agenda.

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  • Kozol, J. 1991. Savage inequalities: Children in America’s schools. New York: Crown.

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    For two years, beginning in 1988, the author visited schools in neighborhoods across the country, from Illinois to Washington, DC, and from New York to San Antonio. This book presents the results of interviews with teachers, principals, superintendents, and children. He found that not only were schools for rich and poor blatantly unequal, the gulf between the two extremes was widening—and it has widened since.

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  • Ravitch, D. 2010. The death and life of the great American school system: How testing and choice are undermining education. Rev. ed. New York: Basic.

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    In this book, the author makes a passionate plea to preserve and renew public education. She examines her career in education reform and repudiates positions that she once staunchly advocated. The book critiques many popular early-21st-century ideas for restructuring schools, including privatization, standardized testing, punitive accountability, and the spread of charter schools. It provides vivid case examples from such major cities as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, and San Diego.

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  • Rothstein, R. 2004. Class and schools: Using social, economic, and educational reform to close the black-white achievement gap. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

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    Modern public policy assumes that the achievement gap between black and white students could be closed if only schools would do a better job. The author discusses the need for social and economic reforms that would give all children a more equal chance to succeed in school. He links broader social and economic conditions to the problems of low-income and racial minority students, and proposes specific solutions to address them.

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  • Shaker, P., and E. E. Heilman. 2008. Reclaiming education for democracy: Thinking beyond No Child Left Behind. Sociocultural, Political, and Historical Studies in Education. New York: Routledge.

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    This book is a vigorous critique of the doctrines of educational neoliberalism and the limits of the No Child Left Behind Act. The authors combine a history of education policy since the late 20th century with an in-depth analysis of the origins of such policy and its impact on professional educators. The book also examines the psychology of advocates who demonstrate a special animus toward universal public education.

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  • Shavit, Y., and H. P. Blossfeld, eds. 1993. Persistent inequality: Changing educational attainment in thirteen countries. Social Inequality. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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    This comparative study of change in educational stratification in thirteen industrialized countries explores which societal conditions help reduce existing inequalities in educational opportunity. The contributors show that in most industrialized countries, inequalities in educational opportunity among students from different social and economic strata have been remarkably stable since the early 20th century. It places the problems of education policy in the early-21st-century United States in a global perspective.

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  • Spring, J. 2005. Conflict of interests: The politics of American education. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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    This book presents a critical analysis of the political and social forces shaping educational politics in the United States. It describes and analyzes how policy is made for American schools and its consequences. The author argues that the politics of education is driven by a complex interrelationship among politicians, private foundations and think tanks, teachers’ unions, special-interest groups, educational politicians, school administrators, boards of education, courts, and the knowledge industry.

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Urban Policy

The economic and social changes that have occurred since 1980 in the United States are most clearly demonstrated in the transformation of urban areas and the nature and extent of urban problems. Several books, such as Wilson 1987, Wilson 1996, and Sasson 2011, examine the effects of this transformation, with a particular emphasis on its economic roots. Devine and Wright 1993, Massey and Denton 1993, and Halpern 1995 focus on the impact of policy decisions on urban conditions, particularly the plight of low-income and racial minority populations. Freudenberg, et al. 2006 analyzes the factors that contribute to public health in urban environments. Harvey 2009 uses a novel interpretive framework to explain the relationship among the physical, economic, social, and policy environments of cities. A few books in addition to William Wilson’s offer solutions to urban poverty and its related problems. Cnaan, et al. 2006 describes how religious congregations enhance the quality of urban life, and it implicitly endorses the promotion of government-funded “faith-based” initiatives. Hudnut 1998 proposes policy solutions based on a combination of market incentives and pragmatic administrative innovations.

  • Cnaan, R. A., S. C. Boddie, C. C. McGrew, and J. J. Kang. 2006. The other Philadelphia story: How local congregations support quality of life in urban America. City in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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    This in-depth study illuminates how congregations function, their involvement in social services, and their support of other charitable organizations. It shows that almost every assembly of parishioners emphasizes caring for others, even if the help is modest. The author argues that people living in US cities receive social services not only from the government but increasingly from local religious communities, particularly since the Clinton administration promoted faith-based social services.

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  • Devine, J. A., and J. D. Wright. 1993. The greatest of evils: Urban poverty and the American underclass. Social Institutions and Social Change. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

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    This volume develops three principal themes. First, poverty is not monolithic; second, the so-called underclass represents a new and corrosive development; and third, the War on Poverty of the 1960s offered a boldness of vision that today’s poverty policies tend to lack. The authors show how the social and economic costs of poverty-related problems were linked at the policy level to the search for feasible solutions to urban poverty.

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  • Freudenberg, N., S. Galea, and D. Vlahov, eds. 2006. Cities and the health of the public. Nashville: Vanderbilt Univ. Press.

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    These essays introduce an ecological approach to the study of the health of urban populations and assess the primary determinants of well-being in cities in the United States, including the social and physical environments, diet, health care, and social services. Essays address the history of public health in cities, the impact of urban sprawl and urban renewal on health, and the challenges facing cities in the developing world.

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  • Halpern, R. 1995. Rebuilding the inner city: A history of neighborhood initiatives to address poverty in the United States. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    This study charts the history of neighborhood-based initiatives in the United States, illuminating the enduring dilemmas and contradictions in American governments’ efforts to eradicate poverty. The author argues that these initiatives divert attention from broader social inequities by failing to examine them in a broader national and structural context.

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  • Harvey, D. 2009. Social justice and the city. Rev. ed. Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation 1. Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia Press.

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    This book examines the relationship among politics, capitalism, and the social aspects of geographical theory. It analyzes core issues in city planning and policy—employment and housing location, zoning, transport costs, concentrations of poverty—and examines the relationship between social justice and space. Rather than focusing on liberal, technocratic solutions, the author’s line of inquiry emphasizes “revolutionary geography,” which transcends the structural limitations of existing approaches to space.

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  • Hudnut, W. H., III. 1998. Cities on the rebound: A vision for urban America. Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute.

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    In this book, the author draws on his past experience as mayor of Indianapolis to describe his vision of American urban life in the future. Using a modified market-oriented perspective, he addresses such issues as demographic diversity, sustainable development, alternatives to sprawl, technological change, regional collaboration, and government efficiency.

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  • Massey, D. S., and N. A. Denton. 1993. American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This book links persistent poverty among African Americans in the United States to the unparalleled degree of deliberate segregation they experience in American cities. It shows how African American ghettos were created during the first half of the 20th century to isolate growing urban African American populations. It demonstrates that segregation continues to be perpetuated through an interlocking set of individual actions, institutional practices, and governmental policies.

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  • Sasson, S. 2011. Cities in a world economy. 4th ed. Sociology for a New Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

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    This updated edition shows how the changing characteristics of the flow of money, information, and people have led to the emergence of a new social formation—global cities—during the past several decades. This process has also been influenced by new types of migrations, financial crises, environmental catastrophes, and the multiplication of communication technologies. These developments give new meaning to the centrality of place and the importance of geography.

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  • Wilson, W. J. 1987. The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    This book examines the social transformation of inner-city ghettos since the 1950s and their condition in the mid-1980s. It offers a critical analysis of the relationship among race, employment, education, and poverty and rejects both conservative and liberal interpretations of life in the inner city. The author provides essential information and a number of policy solutions. The second edition (2012) includes an afterword that offers fresh insight into its findings.

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  • Wilson, W. J. 1996. When work disappears: The world of the new urban poor. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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    This book challenges both liberal and conservative perspectives on urban poverty and analyzes the devastating effects that joblessness has had on urban ghettos in the United States, particularly during the previous several decades. The author argues that problems endemic to America’s inner cities—from fatherless households to drugs and violent crime—stem directly from the disappearance of blue-collar jobs in the wake of a globalized economy.

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Children’s Issues and Child Welfare Policy

Since 1980, the United States has had the highest rate of poverty and reported child abuse among industrialized nations. These books examine different aspects of child welfare in the United States during the past several decades. Several books, such as Duncan and Brooks-Gunn 1997, Haveman and Wolfe 1994, and Rainwater and Smeeding 2003, take a holistic approach to children’s well-being in the United States. They analyze the impact of poverty on their life chances and the extent to which public policies effect any improvements. By contrast, Mayer 1997 questions many prevailing assumptions about the relationship between family income and children’s success in later life. Other books address the problem of teen parenting, which has become a prominent and controversial issue during the past several decades. These include Furstenberg 2007, Garfinkel and McLanahan 1986, and Hoffman and Maynard 2008. Lindsey 2003 and Jenson and Fraser 2011 provide comprehensive analyses of policies affecting children in the United States and propose a set of policy and program reforms. Harris 2014 discusses the ongoing issue of racial disproportionality in the nation’s child welfare system.

  • Duncan, G. J., and J. Brooks-Gunn, eds. 1997. Consequences of growing up poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book examines the multiple effects of poverty on children’s well-being in the United States. It discusses children’s educational achievement, health and mental health outcomes, the likelihood of being on public assistance and having a child out of wedlock, and the probability of being involved in the juvenile justice or criminal justice system. It proposes a set of policy reforms to combat the effects of poverty on children’s life chances.

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  • Furstenberg, F. F. 2007. Destinies of the disadvantaged: The politics of teenage childbearing. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book argues that the conventional wisdom about teenage childbearing distorts reality. It traces the history of public concern over teen pregnancy and explores why this topic has become so politically powerful, and so misunderstood. It describes how the issue emerged from obscurity to become one of the most heated social controversies in America during the past several decades by exaggerating the adverse consequences of early parenthood.

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  • Garfinkel, I., and S. McLanahan. 1986. Single mothers and their children: A new American dilemma. Changing Domestic Priorities. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

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    This book assesses a recent phenomenon in American life: the increasing proportion of children living in households headed by single women. Among policymakers there is concern (and some evidence) that these children are less likely to be successful adults. The book discusses the trends in public debate about this problem. It examines the issue of providing public assistance to such families and whether doing so fosters long-term welfare dependency.

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  • Harris, M. S. 2014. Racial disproportionality in child welfare. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Since the mid-20th century, the number of children of color entering the child welfare system in the United States is disproportionately high. This book identifies the practice and policy changes required to address the unequal treatment of children of color in the child welfare system, and their multiple implications. It critiques most existing social welfare policies and presents best practices for each decision point in the child welfare process.

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  • Haveman, R., and B. Wolfe. 1994. Succeeding generations: On the effects of investment in children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book examines the impact of child-centered public policies on the future prospects of children. It analyzes the relative consequences of late-20th-century government policies, such as investments in education, family support, childcare, and health and mental health, which focus on specific factors that contribute to children’s well-being. It questions the efficacy of addressing children’s needs through policy silos and proposes a more comprehensive policy strategy for the future.

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  • Hoffman, S. D., and R. A. Maynard, eds. 2008. Kids having kids: Economic costs & social consequences of teen pregnancy. 2d ed. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

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    Although it has been declining since 1991, the US still consistently has the highest teen birth rates in the industrialized world. This book identifies the consequences of teen childbearing for the parents, the children, and our society. The researchers sought to isolate the birth itself from the mother’s circumstances and thus discover its true costs. This updated edition features a new chapter evaluating teen pregnancy interventions.

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  • Jenson, J. M., and M. W. Fraser, eds. 2011. Social policy for children and families: A risk and resilience perspective. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    The authors assert that a public health framework based on ecological theory and principles of risk and resilience is essential for the successful design of social policy. They apply this framework to the substantive domains of child welfare, education, mental health, health, developmental disabilities, substance use, juvenile justice, and poverty. The book presents suggestions for policy and program changes that focus on preventing problem behaviors and supporting children and families.

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  • Lindsey, D. 2003. The welfare of children. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195136715.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book traces the transformation of child welfare into child protective services and argues that the current focus on abuse has produced a system that functions as a last resort for only the worst and most dramatic cases. The author asserts there is no evidence that this transformation has reduced child abuse fatalities or provided a safer environment for children. He argues that the criminal justice system should assume responsibility for the problem.

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  • Mayer, S. E. 1997. What money can’t buy: Family income and children’s life chances. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This book explores the question of whether income directly affects children’s life chances, or if the factors that cause parents to have low incomes also impede their children’s life chances. The author finds that the effect of income on children’s outcomes is smaller than many experts have thought. Money alone, she concludes, does not buy either the material or the psychological well-being that children require to succeed.

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  • Rainwater, L., and T. M. Smeeding. 2003. Poor kids in a rich country: America’s children in comparative perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This book compares the situation of American children in low-income families with their counterparts in fourteen other countries. The authors find that while the child poverty rate in most countries has been relatively stable since the early 1980s, child poverty has increased markedly in the United States and Britain. The book explores the underlying reasons for this difference and propose policies to enable working parents to raise their children.

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Social Justice and Social Policy

Although it was widely employed as a rationale for public policies and a variety of efforts at social change during the 20th century, the definition of social justice remains ambiguous and contested both in political and policymaking circles, particularly in the United States. These books apply different conceptions of social justice to the development and implementation of modern social policies that address human welfare. Several books discuss the application of social justice to a broad range of policy issues. These include Bates and Swan 2010, Franklin 1998, and Reisch 2014. Others present alternative ways of framing social justice from widely different perspectives, discussing how their alternative approach would be applied in practice. These books include Gilbert 1995, Nussbaum 2011, Pelton 2005, Sen 2009, Wronka 2008, and Young 2011. White 2000 compares two different approaches to public care in the aftermath of welfare reform and describes the features of a more democratic system of care.

  • Bates, K. A., and R. S. Swan, eds. 2010. Through the eye of Katrina: Social justice in the United States. 2d ed. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

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    Through the use of a multidisciplinary case study approach, this book examines the continued struggle for social justice from the perspectives of communication, criminology, education, ethnic studies, history, justice studies, law, political science, and sociology. The collection of articles is divided into three sections representing the causes of, consequences of, and responses to social injustice as illustrated through the case study of Hurricane Katrina.

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  • Franklin, J., ed. 1998. Social policy and social justice: The IPPR reader. Malden, MA: Polity.

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    This volume analyzes the changing needs and demands in welfare and their implications for the debate about public and private provision and the interface among family, work, and community. The authors address the issues that characterize today’s changing policymaking agenda and examine such issues as: What kind of policies can encourage a stable and loving home environment for children to grow into dependable adults?

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  • Gilbert, N. 1995. Welfare justice: Restoring social equity. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    The author argues that policymakers need to develop programs that balance the rights and responsibilities of citizens, and take a hard look at who benefits from government resources. He calls for a new form of social protection to supersede the welfare state: the “enabling state,” where citizens are treated not as passive recipients of public benefits and care but as individuals capable of looking after themselves with occasional government assistance.

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  • Nussbaum, M. C. 2011. Creating capabilities: The human development approach. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.

    DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674061200Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author argues that our dominant theories of development have created policies that ignore our most basic human needs for dignity and self-respect. She proposes an alternate model: the capabilities approach. This model provides a path to justice both for humans and nonhumans, weighs its relevance against other philosophical stances, and reveals the value of its universal guidelines even as it acknowledges cultural difference.

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  • Pelton, L. H. 2005. Frames of justice: Implications for social policy. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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    This work analyzes three major frames of justice—group justice, individual desert, and life affirmation—their implications, and their reflections in early-21st-century social policies. The author argues that the prominence of one frame over another at any particular point in history or in a particular geographical location is influenced by a variety of factors. The book explores the relationships among principle, sentiment, reason, justice, and policy.

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  • Reisch, M., ed. 2014. The Routledge international handbook of social justice. Routledge Handbooks. London: Routledge.

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    These essays written by leading scholars from a wide range of disciplines explore different modern perspectives on social justice and what its attainment would involve. They present various international, historical, and theoretical perspectives and discuss the dilemmas inherent in implementing social justice concepts in policy and practice. The essays also include multiple examples of how social justice might be achieved at the interpersonal, organizational, community, and societal levels.

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  • Sen, A. 2009. The idea of justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.

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    In this book in place of a transcendental theory of justice, the author proposes an approach to justice that focuses on the comparative judgments of what is “more” or “less” just, and on the comparative merits of the different societies that actually emerge from certain institutions and social interactions. The heart of his argument is a respect for reasoned differences in our understanding of what a “just society” really is.

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  • White, J. A. 2000. Democracy, justice, and the welfare state: Reconstructing public care. University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press.

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    Written in the aftermath of the controversy generated by 1990s efforts to “end welfare as we know it,” the author argues that care as it is currently institutionalized often both assumes and perpetuates dependency and paternalistic relationships to authority. He asserts that an enhanced system of public care requires that such paternalistic practices be challenged and that care in a democratic system must itself be democratic in practice.

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  • Wronka, J. 2008. Human rights and social justice: Social action and service for the helping and health professions. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    This book asserts that human rights should serve as the bedrock of attaining the goal of social justice. It traces the history of human rights perspectives and policy initiatives since World War II and discusses the extent to which these initiatives have been implemented in the United States and other nations. It provides a blueprint of how human rights and social justice concerns can serve as a conceptual framework for policy and practice interventions.

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  • Young, I. M. 2011. Responsibility for justice. Oxford Political Philosophy. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392388.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book synthesizes a number of important topics: global justice; democracy and difference; continental political theory; ethics and international affairs; and gender, race, and public policy. It discusses a society’s responsibilities to address “structural” injustices in which many are implicated often by virtue of participating in the market. The author argues that addressing structural injustices requires a new model of responsibility, which she calls the “social connection” model.

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The Politics of Policymaking

Since 1980, the politics of social welfare policymaking in the United States has become increasingly contentious as a consequence of fiscal scarcity, growing inequality, racial conflict, ideological and cultural differences, and the growing polarization of the nation’s political system. These books examine different aspects of the process of policymaking during the past several decades. A number of them focus on the politics involved in a specific arena of social welfare policy. For example, Costin, et al. 1996 examines the issue of child abuse; Marmor 2000 looks at Medicare policy; Noble 1997, O’Connor 2003, and Rogers-Dillon 2004 analyze the impact of politics on welfare policy; and Weissert and Weissert 2012 assesses its effects on health policy. Two books discuss the intricate details of early-21st-century policymaking: Kerwin and Furlong 2011 describes the process of rulemaking once legislation has been adopted, Schick 2007 discusses the modern federal budgetary process, and Waldman 1995 presents a case study of the congressional legislative process. Edsall and Edsall 1991 provides an insightful analysis of how the combination of racial tensions, resistance to taxation, and the push to expand civil and social rights produced a conservative backlash in the 1980s.

  • Costin, L. B., H. J. Karger, and D. Stoesz. 1996. The politics of child abuse in America. Child Welfare. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This book examines the contradictions of the US approach to child abuse, which the authors claim has transformed the issue from a social problem to a social spectacle. The authors argue that child abuse must be viewed as a public safety problem. This redefinition would make it congruent with other family-based social trends, and would provide children with the same legal protection currently extended to physically and sexually abused women.

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  • Edsall, T. B., and M. D. Edsall. 1991. Chain reaction: The impact of race, rights, and taxes on American politics. New York: Norton.

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    This book describes how three volatile issues—race, rights, and taxes—shaped US politics in the 1980s and influenced a wide range of domestic issues, from welfare policy to suburban zoning practices. The authors describe how this transformative power shift occurred and contributed to political polarization. Their analysis explains many of the policy developments since the early 1990s and continues to have relevance in the 21st century.

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  • Kerwin, C. M., and S. R. Furlong. 2011. Rulemaking: How government agencies write law and make policy. 4th ed. Washington, DC: CQ.

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    This book provides a detailed analysis of rulemaking, which the authors categorize as the single most important function performed by government agencies. This revised edition contains new data, fresh analysis of interest groups’ participation in rulemaking, and coverage of the Obama administration’s early actions, from executive orders and key personnel decisions to a description of how federal agencies have responded to policy changes.

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  • Marmor, T. R. 2000. The politics of Medicare. 2d ed. Social Institutions and Social Change. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

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    This book provides valuable historical background on the development and evolution of Medicare and the politics surrounding this controversial piece of public policy. The author interprets the history of the program and explores what happened to Medicare politically as it turned from a legislative act in the mid-1960s to a major program of American government in the three decades since.

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  • Noble, C. 1997. Welfare as we knew it: A political history of the American welfare state. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This book explains why, compared to other rich Western democracies, the United States does less to help its citizens adapt to the uncertainties of life in a market economy. The author demonstrates that deeply rooted political factors have limited what reformers have been able to accomplish. He argues that reformers must refocus their activities on political and institutional change, such as campaign finance and labor law reform, in the future.

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  • O’Connor, B. 2003. A political history of the American welfare system: When ideas have consequences. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    This book discusses how American welfare policy moved from the ambitious and altruistic goals of the Great Society of the 1960s to the punitive and penurious provisions of the 1996 welfare reform legislation. It explores the power of ideology and rhetoric in the transformation of the American welfare state and shows how changing perceptions of poverty, morality, and economic responsibility reshaped it from a liberal to conservative perspective.

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  • Rogers-Dillon, R. H. 2004. The welfare experiments: Politics and policy evaluation. Stanford, CA: Stanford Law and Politics.

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    Welfare experiments conducted at the state level during the 1990s radically restructured the American welfare state and played a critical and unexpected role in the broader policymaking process. In this book, the author argues that these welfare experiments were not simply scientific experiments, as their supporters frequently contend, but a powerful political tool that created a framework within which few could argue successfully against the welfare policy changes.

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  • Schick, A. 2007. The federal budget: Politics, policy, process. 3d ed. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute.

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    This edition updates and expands earlier assessments of the long-term budgetary outlook. The author examines how surpluses projected during the final years of the Clinton presidency turned into oversized deficits under George W. Bush. He provides a detailed analysis of the politics and practices surrounding the federal budget and addresses issues such as the collapse of the congressional budgetary process and the threat posed by the termination of discretionary spending caps.

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  • Waldman, S. 1995. The bill: How legislation really becomes law; A case study of the National Service Bill. Rev. ed. New York: Penguin.

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    This book narrates the interplay of policy and politics between Congress and the White House through a case study of the passage and reauthorization of the National Service Bill, which created AmeriCorps. The author provides portraits of key players, both prominent and lesser known, and discusses the intricate steps in the policy development process. It provides an insider’s view of how legislative policy is enacted in the late-20th-century United States.

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  • Weissert, W. G., and C. S. Weissert. 2012. Governing health: The politics of health policy. 4th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    This book examines the development of health-care policy from a political perspective, describing how Congress, the president, special-interest groups, the health-care bureaucracy, and state governments contribute to the definition of health policy problems and the search for politically feasible solutions. The authors provide extensive reviews of the policies that have governed health care since the 1960s, discussing the politics and political impact of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

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