Synopses & Reviews
With three-fourths of all poor families headed by women and about 54 percent of single-mother families living below the poverty line, a rethinking of the fundamental assumptions of our much-reviled welfare program is clearly necessary. Here, Linda Gordon unearths the tangled roots of AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). Competing visions of how and to whom public aid should be distributed were advanced by male bureaucrats, black women's organizations, and white progressive feminists. From their policy debates emerged a two-track system of public aid, in which single mothers got highly stigmatized "welfare" while other groups, such as the aged and the unemployed, received "entitlements."
Gordon strips today's welfare debates of decades of irrelevant and irrational accretion, revealing that what appeared progressive in the 1930s is antiquated in the 1990s. She shows that only by shedding false assumptions, and rethinking the nature of poverty, can we advance a truly effective welfare reform.
An important original contribution and one that offers provocative insights into the current welfare reform debate. Deborah A. Stone
Illuminating...skillfully written and well-documented.
Particularly timely and instructive...thoroughly documented, balanced and often absorbing...Perhaps it will help us to take another look at the current thinking about both the needs and the rights of the poor beforeharsh, punitive policies critically injure children and their families for generations to come.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 315-419) and index.
About the Author
Linda Gordon is Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of the now classic history of birth control in America, Woman's Body, Woman's Right, and of Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, winner of the Joan Kelly Prize for the best book in women's history.