Social Welfare: A History of the American Response to Need / Edition 4

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Social Welfare: A History of the American Response to Need

Seventh Edition

June Axinn

Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

Mark J. Stern

University of Pennsylvania

Basic Approach:

Social Welfare, Seventh Edition, describes and analyzes the ideas that have shaped the history of social welfare–from the Colonial Period to the present day. It offers a comprehensive examination of the history of social welfare that explores the ideas and the economic and political forces that have shaped policy development, providing students with a foundation for understanding current policies.


  • New! The period from 1992—2006 (Chapter 9) looks at the main thrusts of social welfare policy emphasized by the Republican majority in Congress and examines their impact on the poor and the oppressed in the United States.
  • Chapter 9 includes updated material on Medicare prescription drug legislation, welfare reform, Hurricane Katrina, and social security privatization.
  • Expanded sections cover the historical development of institutions and the de-institutionalization movement.
  • Revised discussion of the War on Poverty takes recent scholarship into consideration.
  • Expanded discussions of trends in the justice system address the immigration debate and the issue of homosexuality and the law.
  • New Discussion Questions for each chapter help engage students in the role of history in contemporary policy debates.

What the reviewers are saying…

“I really enjoy Social Welfare: A History of the American Response to Need and find that each time I read it in order to prepare for class, I pick up a few new interesting facts.”

Michael Wolf-Branigin, George Mason University

“I think [Social Welfare] is still the best overall text for BSW or MSW students in courses that emphasize the history of social welfare. It is well-organized, researched and written. It has a clear theme that is maintained throughout the book. It reflects the disciplinary strengths of the authors (economics and history) and it uses primary source documents effectively.” Michael Reisch, University of Michigan


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Editorial Reviews

Axinn and Stern (social work, U. of Pennsylvania) present a historical narrative of social welfare issues in the US, accompanied by relevant historical documents. Organized around historical time periods from the mid-18th century to 1999, the volume places social welfare policy into economic, demographic, and political contexts. Revisions include new sections on the treatment and status of Native Americans, immigration policy, family roles, and attitudes towards the aging. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801317002
  • Publisher: Allyn & Bacon, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 The Colonial Period: 1647-1776 13
3 The Pre-Civil War Period: 1777-1860 35
4 The Civil War and After: 1860-1900 81
5 Progress and Reform: 1900-1930 123
6 The Depression and the New Deal: 1930-1940 168
7 War and Prosperity: 1940-1970 220
8 Economic and Social Stagnation: 1970-1990 268
9 A Turn to the Right: The 1990s 305
Index 335
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