Race and the Politics of Welfare Reform

Sanford F. Schram, Joe Soss, and Richard C. Fording, Editors
A searching and succinct restatement of the many ways race and American racial attitudes affect how we talk about the poor--and how we handle the problem of poverty relief


Until now, there has been no single integrated overview of the subject of race in U.S. welfare policy. This volume both fills that need and provides a forum for a range of voices that reaffirm the key role race has played and continues to play in our approach to poverty. With these new insights, readers will develop their own replies and begin the hard work of confronting the enduring relationship between race and welfare in the United States.

As Frances Fox Piven writes in her concluding essay, "Why Welfare Is Racist," "Race-laden political contests have helped keep racist political attitudes alive, and the campaign to reform welfare is a good example of just such an entrepreneurial use of racism."

Piven's challenging observation offers a thought-provoking counterpoint to the national discussion of race in welfare policy. As the final essay, her sharp critique of the welfare system is a powerful rejoinder to the book's invitation to rethink the problems and possibilities of race in welfare politics.

Sanford F. Schram is Visiting Professor of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College.

Joe Soss is Associate Professor of Government at American University.

Richard C. Fording is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Kentucky.

Praise / Awards

  • "At last, a comprehensive examination of the ways in which race and racism—so often downplayed in policy analysis—pervade the history and outcomes to date of welfare reform, with appropriate attention paid to the role of the media in shaping public attitudes and public policy."
    —Chester Hartman, Executive Director, Poverty & Race Research Action Council

  • "Students of social policy have long understood that the issue of race has been a key factor influencing the development over the course of the 20th century of a distinctly American welfare state. The fine essays collected in this volume provide further and more contemporary evidence of how the social stigma in American political culture associated with 'blackness' continues to impede our capacity to create and sustain a humane social contract."
    —Glenn Loury, Director of the Institute on Race and Social Division, Boston University

Look Inside


Mass Media and Mass Attitudes


Policy Choice and Implementation

Beyond Welfare Reform: Race and Social Policy in the States


Copyright © 2003, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 392pp.
  • 10 drawings, 1 photograph, 18 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06831-9

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  • $38.95 U.S.

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