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Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this sweeping narrative history from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of today, Caring for America rethinks both the history of the American welfare state from the perspective of care work and chronicles how home care workers eventually became one of the most vibrant forces in the American labor movement. Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein demonstrate the ways in which law and social policy made home care a low-waged job that was stigmatized as welfare and relegated to the bottom of the medical hierarchy.

For decades, these front-line caregivers labored in the shadows of a welfare state that shaped the conditions of the occupation. Disparate, often chaotic programs for home care, which allowed needy, elderly, and disabled people to avoid institutionalization, historically paid poverty wages to the African American and immigrant women who constituted the majority of the labor force. Yet policymakers and welfare administrators linked discourses of dependence and independence-claiming that such jobs would end clients' and workers' "dependence" on the state and provide a ticket to economic independence. The history of home care illuminates the fractured evolution of the modern American welfare state since the New Deal and its race, gender, and class fissures. It reveals why there is no adequate long-term care in America.

Caring for America is much more than a history of social policy, however; it is also about a powerful contemporary social movement. At the front and center of the narrative are the workers-poor women of color-who have challenged the racial, social, and economic stigmas embedded in the system. Caring for America traces the intertwined, sometimes conflicting search of care providers and receivers for dignity, self-determination, and security. It highlights the senior citizen and independent living movements; the civil rights organizing of women on welfare and domestic workers; the battles of public sector unions; and the unionization of health and service workers. It rethinks the strategies of the U.S. labor movement in terms of a growing care work economy. Finally, it makes a powerful argument that care is a basic right for all and that care work merits a living wage.

Synopsis:

Through a sweeping analytical narrative, from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of today, Caring for America shows how law and social policy shaped home care into a low-wage job, stigmatized as part of public welfare, primarily funded through Medicaid, and relegated to the bottom of the medical hierarchy. Care work became a job for African American and immigrant women that kept them in poverty, while providing independence from institutionalization for needy elderly and disabled people. But while the state organized home care, it did not do so without eliciting contestation and confrontation from the citizens themselves who gave and received it.

Authors Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein trace the intertwined, sometimes conflicting search of care providers and receivers for dignity, self-determination, security, and personal and social worth. This book highlights social movements of senior citizens for disability rights and independent living, the civil rights organizing of women on welfare and domestic workers, the battles of public sector unions, and the unionization of health and service workers. It rethinks the history of the American welfare state from the perspective of care work, all the while re-examining the strategies of the U.S. labor movement in terms of a growing care work economy. An unprecedented study, Caring for America serves as a definitive historical account of how public policy has impacted major modern movements and trends in class, race, and gender politics in the United States.

About the Author

Eileen Boris is Hull Professor and Chair, Department of Feminist Studies, at UC-Santa Barbara.

Jennifer Klein is Professor of History at Yale University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Illustrations

Abbreviations

Acknowledgments

Preface: The Personal is Prologue

Introduction: Making the Private Public

Chapter 1: Neither Nurses nor Maids: New Deal Origins

Chapter 2: Rehabilitative Missions: Social Welfare and Medical Models of Home Care

Chapter 3: Caring for the Great Society: The War on Poverty Discovers the Service Sector

Chapter 4: Welfare Wars, Seventies Style: From Disability Rights to Neo-Liberalism

Chapter 5: "Take Us Out of Slavery": Household Employees Become Home Attendants

Chapter 6: "The Union Is Us": Organizing in the Age of Reagan

Chapter 7: "We Were the Invisible Workforce": The Triumph of SEIU

Epilogue: Rethinking Home Care: Respect, Dignity and Social Rights

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195329117
Author:
Boris, Eileen
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Author:
Klein, Jennifer
Subject:
Human Services
Subject:
Sociology | Social Movement, Social Change
Subject:
Health and Medicine-Caregiving
Publication Date:
20120431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
12 illustrations
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
6.4 x 9.3 x 1.2 in 1.2 lb

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Related Subjects

Business » Human Resource Management
Business » Management
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Caregiving
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
History and Social Science » Politics » Labor
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Religion » Western Religions » Theology

Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State New Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195329117 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Through a sweeping analytical narrative, from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of today, Caring for America shows how law and social policy shaped home care into a low-wage job, stigmatized as part of public welfare, primarily funded through Medicaid, and relegated to the bottom of the medical hierarchy. Care work became a job for African American and immigrant women that kept them in poverty, while providing independence from institutionalization for needy elderly and disabled people. But while the state organized home care, it did not do so without eliciting contestation and confrontation from the citizens themselves who gave and received it.

Authors Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein trace the intertwined, sometimes conflicting search of care providers and receivers for dignity, self-determination, security, and personal and social worth. This book highlights social movements of senior citizens for disability rights and independent living, the civil rights organizing of women on welfare and domestic workers, the battles of public sector unions, and the unionization of health and service workers. It rethinks the history of the American welfare state from the perspective of care work, all the while re-examining the strategies of the U.S. labor movement in terms of a growing care work economy. An unprecedented study, Caring for America serves as a definitive historical account of how public policy has impacted major modern movements and trends in class, race, and gender politics in the United States.

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