Ain't No Trust

Ain't No Trust: How Bosses, Boyfriends, and Bureaucrats Fail Low-Income Mothers and Why It Matters

JUDITH A. LEVINE
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 314
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt3fh2jq
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  • Book Info
    Ain't No Trust
    Book Description:

    Ain't No Trust explores issues of trust and distrust among low-income women in the U.S.-at work, around childcare, in their relationships, and with caseworkers-and presents richly detailed evidence from in-depth interviews about our welfare system and why it's failing the very people it is designed to help. By comparing low-income mothers' experiences before and after welfare reform, Judith A. Levine probes women's struggles to gain or keep jobs while they simultaneously care for their children, often as single mothers. By offering a new way to understand how structural factors impact the daily experiences of poor women, Ain't No Trust highlights the pervasiveness of distrust in their lives, uncovering its hidden sources and documenting its most corrosive and paralyzing effects. Levine's critique and conclusions hold powerful implications for scholars and policymakers alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95691-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    One afternoon during the broiling hot summer of 1995, I sat in a tiny attic apartment on Chicago’s West Side talking with Bethany Grant, a thirty-four-year-old divorced African American mother.¹ Bethany was living with the youngest three of her five children and, temporarily, with her friend Sheena and Sheena’s children. The two-bedroom apartment was cramped for such a large number of people, and stifling hot, but the trees surrounding its windows made it feel like a tree house. Bethany’s willowy frame and flair for creating fashionable outfits from even the simplest of clothes gave her a certain grace. Just like...

  5. ONE Welfare Reform and the Enduring Structural Roots of Distrust
    (pp. 23-46)

    PRWORA was not the first time the United States attempted to reform the way it delivers cash assistance to low-income families. In fact, just a mere eight years earlier, the Family Support Act of 1988 had made similar, though smaller, changes. Both pieces of legislation echo themes that run throughout the history of the American welfare state. Since the beginning of this history, politicians and the public have been concerned that “handouts” in the form of cash assistance would create a dependent population and undermine the value of work.¹ Additionally, policy makers have resisted rewarding the “wrong” sorts of people...

  6. TWO “The Way They Treat You Is Inhumane”: CASEWORKERS AND THE WELFARE OFFICE
    (pp. 47-83)

    For several cold winter months in 2005 after reform, I spent a lot of time talking with Julie Callahan, a white mother of two whose freckles and strawberry blonde ponytail made her look even younger than her twenty-three years. Two days after I first met Julie, she applied for cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. We then spoke after each of her appointments in the process of her qualifying for benefits. Julie had been on TANF briefly when her five-year-old daughter was born but had quickly gotten back to work as a waitress in a...

  7. THREE “I Couldn’t Put Up with It No More”: PERCEIVED MISTREATMENT AND DISTRUST AT WORK
    (pp. 84-122)

    Juanita Soto, the thirty-eight-year-old Puerto Rican mother of three whom we met in the last chapter as I folded laundry with her in her kitchen, had once considered herself a success. All the talk about welfare mothers turning their lives around was really true in her case—and she had done it even before welfare reform. She signed herself up for classes at the Learning Place, a job-training center for low-income women with a two-year program that first addressed her experience with domestic violence and then taught her basic skills and eventually specific office skills. Finally, the icing on the...

  8. FOUR “I Don’t Trust People to Watch My Kids”: MOTHERS’ DISTRUST IN CHILD CARE PROVIDERS
    (pp. 123-146)

    Marguerite Guerrera had never imagined herself on welfare. And for good reason, since she had an unusually strong employment history and was married to a man who did too. For sixteen years she lived a financially stable and even, in her estimation, comfortable life. During those sixteen years, she worked in the same factory job on an assembly line making containers; it paid above minimum wage, was unionized, and gave her a healthy benefits package. Her husband, Miguel, worked in the same plant, and between their two incomes they felt they had made it. Even after having her two children,...

  9. FIVE “You Can’t Put Your Trust in Men”: GENDER DISTRUST AND MARRIAGE
    (pp. 147-178)

    Darlene Harris, an African American mother of a two-year-old son, was twenty-two years old when I interviewed her in 1994 before welfare reform. She had the poise of someone much older. Darlene spoke with determination about wanting to become a nurse and own a house. If she reached these goals, it would be in spite of the difficulties put in her way by her son’s father. She had spent four years with James but had finally extricated herself from daily life with his erratic behavior and its associated financial and emotional drains. Their breakup, however, did not free her completely...

  10. SIX “I Trust My Mother and No One Else”: TRUST AND DISTRUST IN SOCIAL NETWORKS
    (pp. 179-203)

    Lashawna Owens depended on her family, and they depended on her. She moved freely through her social world trusting that her family and her community provided a safe and supportive environment for herself and her eight-year-old son, Dante. Lashawna’s mother was her main source of child care. Her mother, who lived nearby, came over in the morning to take Dante to school, picked him up from school, and stayed with him until Lashawna got home from work about an hour later. While Lashawna did not directly return the favor to her mother, she did regularly watch her niece and nephew...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 204-218)

    During his 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton pledged to end “welfare as we know it.”¹ Many thought he had done so when, in August 1996, he signed welfare reform into law. This book has told the stories of low-income mothers living under welfare as we knew it before reform and as we know it after reform. Undeniably, there have been changes. Today’s welfare system, which Susan Schiller encountered when she last applied for benefits, has different rules than the one Bethany Grant faced. Bethany and all of the other women interviewed before reform knew that they always had a safety...

  12. APPENDIX: Research Methods
    (pp. 219-234)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 235-266)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-284)
  15. Index
    (pp. 285-298)