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The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State Paperback – March 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0805069297 ISBN-10: 0805069291 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; First Edition edition (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805069291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805069297
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,491,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Arguably the leading historian of American social welfare, Katz (In the Shadow of the Poorhouse; The Undeserving Poor; etc.) has written a defining history of post-Nixon transformations of America's welfare state, including its nonprofit and private sectors (private pensions, health insurance, etc.). Three forces drive the welfare revolutions, he says a savage, selective war on dependence, a push for devolution of power from the federal level to the states and an often na‹ve, ill-conceived use of market models shaping a "master narrative of policy reform" involving "the discovery of a crisis of numbers and costs (rising rolls); the assignment of blame to morally suspect persons (the undeserving); the reduction of program size through controlling eligibility more than reducing benefits (reform); the measurement of achievement by fewer beneficiaries (success); and the failure to track the fate of those denied help (willful ignorance)." Katz's clear articulation of underlying forces and patterns never overwhelms the rich, compelling detail of specific histories involving workers' compensation, disability insurance, unemployment, medical care, food security, urban policy, urban housing, homelessness, Social Security and welfare. Highlights of earlier history serve to dispel common myths (there was no golden age of faith-based private charity), explain the genesis of modern policies (always products of conflict and compromise) and provide perspective for current proposals (which often echo past mistakes). Katz quotes and refers to a wide range of experts as well as political actors, producing a vivid sense of immediacy matched with keen reflection. Without preaching, Katz meticulously reveals the folly of emulating disintegrative forces rather than balancing them. This is a masterpiece of contemporary history. (Apr.)Forecast: This will be important reading for people in the social welfare fields as well as interested citizens, and a six-city author tour will help bring the book to public attention.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this exhaustive historical and political study of welfare in 20th-century America, political scientist Katz (Improving Poor People) focuses on the destructive influence of the market economy on social welfare programs. He argues that "the market's radical individualism, its processes of marginalization and exclusion, and its subversion of the public sphere" has a "corrosive impact" on our society because it "threatens our national cohesion" the very basis of citizenship. He deplores the transfer of political authority from the federal government to the states and worries about our country's future in an era when such benefits of citizenship as healthcare, unemployment compensation, and aid for the elderly will be denied those most needing public assistance. Well documented and passionately argued, this lucid and persuasive defense of public welfare insists that undoing the welfare state will change the reality of American citizenship, making it not a right but a privilege open only to those with money. The effect will irreparably tear apart the country's social fabric and increase the divide between poor and wealthy Americans. For academic and most medium and large public libraries. Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By on December 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Michael Katz's monograph on the end of AFDC and the rise of market systems as the preferred solution to everything is not the wittiest and most readable book one could have on the subject. Nor is it the most passionate. But it is thoroughly documented and it manifestly shows how the attack on the welfare state in the nineties has increased inequality and decreased security for most Americans. Katz starts off with a fine description of poverty and inequality in the modern American city. He emphasizes, as others have, the very generous government and public support for suburbia at the expense of the inner city, especially in transport and housing. Suburbia's most privileged and coddled residents then turned around to denounce any welfare and assistance to people not like themselves as the most horrendous abuse imaginable of taxpayer funds. More, I think, could have been said about the rise of the conservative ascendency, particularly the weakness of the Democratic Party and trade unions to serve or to mobilize any liberal alternative.
Katz then goes on to provide useful and informative chapters on governors as welfare reformers, mayors as welfare reformers, the limits of private charity, the decline of employer benefits, increased risks for the injured and disabled and unemployed, "reform" of social security, new market models for health care, the fate of food stamps and legal services and the end of welfare. Each chapter is useful and will be very illuminating for those who only read The New Republic. Consider the case of John Engler's welfare reform, which boasted of its removal of people from the welfare rolls and their placement in paying employment. But how much of this was the result of the reforms and how much was it that of a booming economy?
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By F_Luciano on July 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Katz is a historian on welfare in the United States. This book is a history book about welfare. It is a very balanced and objective book, because the author tends to NOT write any of his own opinions, and instead, just uses the opinions of others. This is a good thing for 2 reasons: (1). You aren't as likely to be getting the author's bias meshed in with the writings (2). You get a BETTER historical view of welfare, and the different sides.
Now, I'm not sure if Katz is a liberal. He doesn't really ever go into what he thinks, or what his views are on the different issues of welfare. What I am sure is that he presents BOTH SIDES of the debate on welfare. Not only do you get to read the opinions of the liberals who are for welfare, but you get to read all the opinions of conservatives against it. This is how historical books are supposed to be presented, and this is how Katz' Price of Citizenship is presented. The reviewer below who talks about Katz making all these liberal assumptions obviously didn't read the book. Katz opinions in the matter are absent in the book. The ONLY case you could make about Katz creating a libral-bias side FOR welfare is by saying he gives more credence to liberal views than conservative views by presenting more, or better written liberal views than conservative views. Well, I didn't notice any such thing at all.
Now, I'm not going to pretend like this book doesn't seem to hint at giving any sort of credence to a political ideology. Its conclusions do seem to give more credence to the liberal side of the welfare debate than the conservative one. But is that because the author is creating biased arguments in favor of liberal positions? Nope. Read the book.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Panopticonman on May 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
With "The Price of Citizenship," Katz performs a much needed demystification of the ways in which the social welfare state and the poor have been attacked and continue to be attacked by social and fiscal conservatives under the guise of consumer choice and the chimerical promise of the marketplace as the best of all possible ways to administer "welfare." A work of breathtaking scope, Katz examines each of the programs of the welfare state -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, AFDC ("welfare"), Public Eduation, etc. -- gives a brief history of the inception of each, and then gives a recent history of how each program has come under attack by the forces of business and and their shortsighted friends in government.
Here's how they do it, according to Katz: Using the same master narratives of sorting citizens into deserving and undeserving categories to begin the assault, then tightening the screws on the "undeserving," the conservative business forces follow up with the panacea of the marketplace as the be-all and end-all solution: get those lazy minority mothers off the dole and into jobs; close down the loopholes in unemployment so that no one will qualify; drive people slowly toward the assumption of more and more risk by scaring them with junk statistics on the imminent demise of Social Security and then offering them the "solution" of mutual funds -- etc., etc., etc. The strategy is always the same: the market will knit up the ravell'd sleeve of care, when in fact it really serves to unravel the social safety net for those who need it most, and, weaves new money-making nets for others in the name of "efficiency" and "choice.
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