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Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy (Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion) [Hardcover]

Martin Gilens
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 24, 1999 0226293645 978-0226293646 1
Tackling one of the most volatile issues in contemporary politics, Martin Gilens's work punctures myths and misconceptions about welfare policy, public opinion, and the role of the media in both. Why Americans Hate Welfare shows that the public's views on welfare are a complex mixture of cynicism and compassion; misinformed and racially charged, they nevertheless reflect both a distrust of welfare recipients and a desire to do more to help the "deserving" poor.

"With one out of five children currently living in poverty and more than 100,000 families with children now homeless, Gilens's book is must reading if you want to understand how the mainstream media have helped justify, and even produce, this state of affairs." —Susan Douglas, The Progressive
"Gilens's well-written and logically developed argument deserves to be taken seriously." —Choice

"A provocative analysis of American attitudes towards 'welfare.'. . . [Gilens] shows how racial stereotypes, not white self-interest or anti-statism, lie at the root of opposition to welfare programs." -Library Journal


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Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy (Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion) + With Malice toward Some: How People Make Civil Liberties Judgments (Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology)
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Gilens (political science, Yale Univ.) has written a provocative analysis of American attitudes toward welfare. Actually, he might have better titled his study Why Americans Hate Certain Kinds of Welfare, because he convincingly shows that most Americans actually support state assistance to the deserving poor, i.e., those who are not lazy and who actively seek employment. On the other hand, Americans overwhelmingly oppose welfare to those perceived as shiftless. This category has come to be associated with African Americans, partly through the medias long-term tendency to connect welfare with blacks. To prove this point, the book analyzes more than four decades of news reports on poverty. In the end, the author shows how racial stereotypes, not white self-interest or anti-statism, lie at the root of opposition to welfare programs. A well-written and thoughtful study on a timely subject.Anthony O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Why do Americans who want to "help the poor" have such negative attitudes toward "welfare" ? Yale University political science professor Gilens suggests the media are a primary culprit. Individualism and economic self-interest don't adequately explain white Americans' opposition to welfare. Using detailed analysis of surveys and other sources, Gilens traces this antipathy to portrayals in the media that "racialize" welfare and activate the ancient racial stereotype of African Americans as "lazy." The old notion of "the undeserving poor" is central here; many of those who want "an end to welfare as we know it" think government should be spending more, not less, to help poor people trying to support themselves. Gilens' study of how TV and newsmagazines "visualize" poverty may be controversial; he describes how racial stereotypes lead even liberal photo editors and producers to misrepresent the composition of America's poor people. Recognizing the complexity of these public attitudes, Gilens argues that well-conceived means-tested programs can achieve and maintain strong public support. Mary Carroll

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion
  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 24, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226293645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226293646
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,065,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars state of the art public opinion analysis December 9, 1999
By (d)avid
Format:Hardcover
The finding that welfare policies are not popular is not new, but Marty Gilens carefully analyzes the reasons people give for disliking welfare. By embedding experiments within surveys, he is able to gain insight into topics which would otherwise remain obscured. In effect, he is able to trick participants into revealing their true beliefs on race and welfare. The conclusions he reaches are new, convincing, and thought-provoking. In short, this is an excellent book for anyone interested in either public opinion research methodology or welfare politics.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very important book. July 15, 2005
Format:Paperback
This book should be required reading in every high school civic class. Gilens dispels the myths of the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor and the myths of the racial composition of welfare recipients. The text is extremely well researched and clearly written. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book December 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gilens is a rockstar, I had to read this book for a polysci class and I really enjoyed it, he makes some good and interesting points and backs them up with tons of data making all his research very reliable. For the period it was written (1998 I think?) he had some revolutionary ideas.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
No I am not a rabid conservative but, I do think myself a reasonable man. Pay able bodied people to sit home and collect a check and you encourage sloth simple as that. Also fashion a captialist economic system that is unable to provide the number of living wage jobs needed to employ those wanting to work and you create the logical needs based foundation that supports the concept of "Welfare!" Both sides contribute to the disgrace that is welfare. On one side we have the super rich who now have so much money thay can never spend it all. On the other hand we have hard working honorable US citizens toiling away at dead end, low paying minimum wage jobs that make life so hard its just a hint above slavery. Walfare is the admission that while capitalism is a far better system than communism it has its serious flaws. Thw gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. The working poor are increasingly being treated like modern day slaves who suffer long hours, abusive labor practices insisted on by greedy ruthless corporations who would see the streets run red with blood just to make another dollar profit on the bottom line.

Welfare is an ugly truth made neccessary by the failings of capitism in the area of wealth distribution. Welfare is so often seen as a program for the poor when in fact it is a program that aid's the rich corporations. Only because of welfare can today's mega corporations afford to pay the minimum slave wages that maximize profits at the expense of hard working class people. Huge corporations and their disgusting ugly fat cat slob investors are getting rich off the blood and suffering of the working poor. Welfare is a sick system but, let's be clear on who reaps its rewards.
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