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Welfare Hot Buttons

Welfare Hot Buttons: Women, Work, and Social Policy Reform

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 192
  • Book Info
    Welfare Hot Buttons
    Book Description:

    Sylvia Bashevkin probes the fate of single mothers on social assistance during the period when three "third way" political executives were in office ? Bill Clinton (US), Jean Chrétien (Canada), and Tony Blair (Great Britain).

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8326-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    At its best, meaningful social science research answers three fundamental questions. First, what happened? Second, how did these developments transpire? And third, so what? Of what larger significance are the patterns and events under study?

    This book presents one of the first comparative assessments of contemporary social policy change in three Western industrialized countries: the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. It adopts as its starting point the following puzzle: If conservative political executives in these nations endorsed a serious rethinking and retrenchment of welfare programs through the 1980s, and faced eventual electoral defeat partly because of the stances they...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Conservative Legacies
    (pp. 19-43)

    For a variety of reasons, Anglo-American welfare regimes supporting lone mothers and their children were widely viewed as far from ideal, even during their ostensible ʹgolden age.ʹ Progressives condemned what they saw as the social control dimension of income assistance programs, notably the invasive regulation of poor families by armies of social workers and other public employees. Many women who received welfare benefits resented the limited support offered under schemes that had originated in widowsʹ pensions of the early twentieth century. Taken together, these criticisms of social control, meagre benefits, and the stigmatization of poor mother households shaped the agenda...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Promises, Promises
    (pp. 44-68)

    In their efforts to push aside conservative leaders and assume top executive office, Third Way politicians presented an intriguing combination of abstract ideas and concrete proposals. The campaign rhetoric of Bill Clinton, Jean Chrétien, and Tony Blair highlighted the importance of restoring faith in some notion of the common good, which had been eroded and endangered in their view by Republican presidents and Conservative prime ministers. Third Way talk about restoring more community-based values, however, often focused on a nostalgic revival of traditional norms in which ambition, hard work, and commitment to the nuclear family paid off. In the jargon...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR ʹPost-Conservativeʹ Developments
    (pp. 69-100)

    The promise of Third Way public policy, encapsulated in Anthony Giddensʹs commitment to rejecting market fundamentalism in favour of a renewed focus on social inclusion, needs to be juxtaposed against performance in office. Two full terms of the Clinton administration, two consecutive Canadian Liberal majority governments and one New Labour majority term provide the empirical grounding for this comparative assessment of ʹpost-conservativeʹ welfare reform.

    Our core conclusions can be summarized as follows. In the United States and Canada, decisions of the Clinton and Chrétien eras replaced shared-cost federal social programs with block grants (or fixed, lump-sum payments), cut spending on...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Charting the Consequences
    (pp. 101-132)

    How can researchers assess the impact of public ideas and policies that remain very much in play at the time of writing? Some welfare reform analysts have focused on the measurable fallout from leadersʹ decisions. In the United States, for example, the elimination of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and its replacement by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in 1996 generated a great deal of interest in the more obvious, empirically straightforward consequences of policy change. American writers often addressed quantifiable issues such as caseload decline, rather than the larger question of how Bill Clintonʹs promise to...

  9. CHAPTER SIX The Rise of the Duty State
    (pp. 133-144)

    Of what larger importance is the comparative study of conservative and Third Way welfare reform? Who cares if the rhetoric and actions of Bill Clinton, Jean Chrétien, and Tony Blair were fundamentally consistent with, or divergent from, those of their predecessors?

    This chapter presents a broad-ranging argument in response to the ʹso whatʹ question. We propose that the willingness of Third Way leaders to pursue and, above all, extend the main lines of conservative discourse and policy will likely prove extremely significant to the evolution of American, Canadian, and British welfare states. In particular, we suggest, the trajectory from conservative...

  10. Appendix: Interview Schedules
    (pp. 145-148)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 149-182)
  12. Index
    (pp. 183-188)