Synopses & Reviews
Entering the vigorous debate about the nature of the American welfare state, The Wages of Motherhood illuminates ways in which a "maternalist" social policy emerged from the crucible of gender and racial politics between the world wars. Gwendolyn Mink here examines the cultural dynamics of maternalist social policy, which have often been overlooked by institutional and class analyses of the welfare state. Mink maintains that the movement for welfare provisions, while resulting in important gains, reinforced existing patterns of gender and racial inequality. She explores how Anglo American women reformers, as they gained increasing political recognition, promoted an ideology of domesticity that became the core of maternalist social policy. Focusing on reformers such as Jane Addams, Grace Abbott, Katherine Lenroot, and Frances Perkins, Mink shows how they helped shape a social policy premised on moral character and cultural conformity rather than universal entitlement.