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The Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty Paperback – April 11, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0195101225 ISBN-10: 0195101227

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 11, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195101227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195101225
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Conservatives and defenders of consensus may deplore them, but Florida State University sociology professor Quadagno demonstrates convincingly that race, class, and gender are essential analytical categories for those who hope to understand the nation's past and to design public policies for its future. Her timely, well-researched study of the War on Poverty and the "equal-opportunity welfare state" it produced begins by dissecting the New Deal's crucial compromise: providing some economic security for working men and their families while reinforcing the color line. When the War on Poverty--under pressure from the civil rights movement--challenged that color line, its community action, housing, and job training programs came to be seen as benefiting only African Americans and indeed as threats to middle-class white Americans, the major beneficiaries of the New Deal. The Color of Welfare challenges the more accepted explanations of American exceptionalism, and insists that "the continual reconfiguration of racial inequality" is "the motor driving American history." Only by overcoming racial inequality can the U.S. reform its welfare system and redeem its democratic principles. Mary Carroll --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A pointed reinterpretation of the history of antipoverty policy, arguing that racism most explains why our welfare state is feeble compared with other industrialized nations. Quadagno (Sociology/Florida State Univ.; The Transformation of Old Age Security, not reviewed) proceeds with several case studies, which could have used a bit of leavening with political context and journalistic verve. The author notes that black agricultural workers and domestic servants were denied Social Security protection because of white political opposition in the Roosevelt era. Similarly, New Deal programs seeking to bolster the housing market actually reinforced housing segregation. The Office of Economic Opportunity, the main engine of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, didn't receive enough funding, nor did it establish a policy of redistribution, the author notes. Her discussion of government job-training programs and affirmative action, in which she attacks William Julius Wilson's well-known critique of group rights, is not fully convincing; nor does it address some latter- day issues like the ``race-norming'' of job tests. More potent is her analysis of federal housing policy, which in the 1980s retreated from its commitment to subsidizing housing for the poor. Also, she shows how Richard Nixon's Family Assistance Plan, which promised a guaranteed annual income to the poor, threatened Southern political and business powers, who led the political opposition. She does suggest that the country's lack of commitment to universal child care can be blamed less on racism than on general social conservatism. In the end, Quadagno establishes that the US, compared to other industrialized nations, does the least to fight poverty. However, she would have set the stage better for discussion of solutions had she mentioned America's changing multiracial landscape, debates about the impact of culture on poverty, and current proposals for such policies as workfare. Mainly for students and policy wonks. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Color of Welfare does an excellent job of tracing the evolution of the U.S. welfare state. Quadagno explores the major programs of the welfare system. The main conclusion is that racism was the major factor in the development of policies designed to help those in need. Quadagno chronicles the political games and their impact on the services to the poor. Each major program or department responsible for the distribution of welfare benefits is explored and critiqued. Overall, a good source of background knowledge of the maze of the programs and benefits that make up the welfare system.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on October 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jill Quadagno argues that governments (reflecting the sentiments of moneyed constituents) bought into and even reinforced stereotypes about women of color being 'welfare queens'.

Contrasting with the atmosphere of the authorizing legislation, society believed that these women needed to work outside the home and those who did not were 'lazy'. Black women especially found themselves being portrayed as the 'outsider'.

White women were still on welfare and had always comprised a majority of the program recipients, but politicians knew they could not create public outrage and internal disorder against somebody who more or less resembled the status quo. They had to attack somebody who was so `different' from themselves.

Neither the realities of a tight job market, lax community infrastructure, non-existent mass transit, or the exorbitant cost of quality and safe child care shattered those carefully-spun stereotypes. That positioning also made it easy for the government to ignore how little the monthly check was actually buying by the 1990's because it had not been adjusted for inflation.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very goog read, would recommend to other readers who are interested in welfare system.
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