Doing Without: Women and Work After Welfare Reform

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Jane Henrici
University of Arizona Press, 2006 - Political Science - 233 pages
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The welfare reform legislation enacted in 1996 was applauded by many for the successes it had in dramatically reducing the number of people receiving public assistance, most of whom were women with children. Today, however, more than a decade later, these successes seem far less spectacular. Although the total number of welfare recipients has dropped by more than fifty percent nationwide, evidence shows that poverty has actually deepened. Many hardworking women are no better off for having returned to the workplace. In Doing Without, Jane Henrici brings together nine contributions to tell the story of welfare reform from inside the lives of the women who live with it. Cases from Chicago and Boston are combined with a focus on San Antonio from one of the largest multi-city investigations on welfare reform ever undertaken. The contributors argue that the employment opportunities available to poorer women, particularly single mothers and ethnic minorities, are insufficient to lift their families out of poverty. Typically marked by variable hours, inadequate wages, and short-term assignments, both employment and training programs fail to provide stability or the kinds of benefits—such as health insurance, sick days, and childcare options—that are necessary to sustain both work and family life. The chapters also examine the challenges that the women who seek assistance, and those who work in public and private agencies to provide it, together must face as they navigate ever-changing requirements and regulations, decipher alterations in Medicaid, and apply for training and education. Contributors urge that the nation should repair the social safety net for women in transition and offer genuine access to jobs with wages that actually meet the cost of living.
  

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Contents

Without a Net Without a Job
23
Z Flexible Families
40
Work First Then What?
64
k Looking for Home
83
The Myth of SelfSufficiency in Health
99
The Difference Disability Makes
113
Through a Quantitative and Qualitative Lens
131
Putting Mothers to Work
155
Agents of Change
172
Welfare Reform and LowWage Work
190
References
203
About the Contributors
225
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Jane Henrici, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Memphis, earned her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. Henrici has published articles and chapters on development programs and their interaction with ethnicity and gender in Peru, and on social programs and their effects on poorer women in the U.S. With respect to the latter, she edited as well as contributed to a volume contracted by the University of Arizona Press tentatively titled Going it Alone: U.S. Women in the Age of Welfare Reform. She is also the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship.

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