The Segregated Origins of Social Security: African Americans and the Welfare State / Edition 1

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Overview

The relationship between welfare and racial inequality has long been understood as a fight between liberal and conservative forces. In The Segregated Origins of Social Security, Mary Poole challenges that basic assumption. Meticulously reconstructing the behind-the-scenes politicking that gave birth to the 1935 Social Security Act, Poole demonstrates that segregation was built into the very foundation of the welfare state because white policy makers--both liberal and conservative--shared an interest in preserving white race privilege.

Although northern white liberals were theoretically sympathetic to the plight of African Americans, Poole says, their primary aim was to save the American economy by salvaging the pride of America's "essential" white male industrial workers. The liberal framers of the Social Security Act elevated the status of Unemployment Insurance and Social Security--and the white workers they were designed to serve--by differentiating them from welfare programs, which served black workers.

Revising the standard story of the racialized politics of Roosevelt's New Deal, Poole's arguments also reshape our understanding of the role of public policy in race relations in the twentieth century, laying bare the assumptions that must be challenged if we hope to put an end to racial inequality in the twenty-first.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Makes an important contribution to an understanding of the cultural, social and political factors that contributed to the adoption of the Social Security Act. . . . [Poole's] meticulous scholarship and attention to detail sets an exemplary standard for future research."
Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

"This well-researched book makes a valuable addition to our knowledge of the racial origins of the welfare state."
American Historical Review

"A long overdue book. . . . A detailed reading. . . . No one interested in the foundations of the modern U.S. welfare state can afford to ignore [Poole's] analysis."
The Journal of Social History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807856888
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 5/29/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Poole teaches history at Prescott College in Arizona. She previously served as an analyst with the Washington State Senate, where she drafted the budget for state and federal welfare programs.
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Table of Contents

1 So now Mr. President, we are looking for something : African Americans, the Social Security Act, and the Great Depression 12
2 The not-so-solid South : southern democrats in Congress 28
3 Colorblind public policy : the staff of the Committee on Economic Security 61
4 Shaky ground : black and interracial organizations 97
5 Gender and the white united front : the women of the Federal Children's Bureau 140
Conclusion : those old discriminatory practices 174
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