Three Worlds of Relief: Race, Immigration, and the American Welfare State from the Progressive Era to the New Deal

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Overview

Three Worlds of Relief examines the role of race and immigration in the development of the American social welfare system by comparing how blacks, Mexicans, and European immigrants were treated by welfare policies during the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Taking readers from the turn of the twentieth century to the dark days of the Depression, Cybelle Fox finds that, despite rampant nativism, European immigrants received generous access to social welfare programs. The communities in which they lived invested heavily in relief. Social workers protected them from snooping immigration agents, and ensured that noncitizenship and illegal status did not prevent them from receiving the assistance they needed. But that same helping hand was not extended to Mexicans and blacks. Fox reveals, for example, how blacks were relegated to racist and degrading public assistance programs, while Mexicans who asked for assistance were deported with the help of the very social workers they turned to for aid.

Drawing on a wealth of archival evidence, Fox paints a riveting portrait of how race, labor, and politics combined to create three starkly different worlds of relief. She debunks the myth that white America's immigrant ancestors pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, unlike immigrants and minorities today. Three Worlds of Relief challenges us to reconsider not only the historical record but also the implications of our past on contemporary debates about race, immigration, and the American welfare state.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Thoroughly researched and well written, the book enhances the literature on immigration and ethnicity.
Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare - Marguerite G. Rosenthal
Three Worlds of Relief covers new territory in social welfare history and will interest academics and students in the field. Of particular importance to the social work profession is the author's attention to the role that social workers played in advocating both for progressive legislation and practice, except in the West and Southwest.
From the Publisher

Co-Winner of the 2014 Barrington Moore Book Award, Comparative and Historical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association

Winner of the 2013 Distinguished Book Award, Latina/o Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association

Winner of the 2013 Thomas and Znaniecki Best Book Award, International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association

Co-Winner of the 2013 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award, Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association

Winner of the 2012 Award for Best Book in Latino Politics, Latino Caucus of the American Political Science Association

Winner of the 2012 C. Wright Mills Award, Society for the Study of Social Problems

"Thoroughly researched and well written, the book enhances the literature on immigration and ethnicity."--Choice

"Three Worlds of Relief covers new territory in social welfare history and will interest academics and students in the field. Of particular importance to the social work profession is the author's attention to the role that social workers played in advocating both for progressive legislation and practice, except in the West and Southwest."--Marguerite G. Rosenthal, Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare

"Three Worlds of Relief reminds us that welfare policies must be measured by their implementation and effects as well as their intent. State and local authorities have the power to accentuate or to mute ethnic and racial biases in ways that undermine or enhance the mission of dispensing benefits impartially. Students, scholars, and practitioners concerned with the problem of inequality in the welfare state will find this book illuminating."--Lara Vapnek, Journal of Children and Poverty

"Fox's scholarship provides a detailed and rich portrait of how racism and race-based nativism, in conjunction with political and economic interests, shaped the design and implementation of U.S. welfare policies. . . . [T]his book is necessary reading for advanced scholars of U.S. social policy, welfare, poverty, and race and immigration and is highly recommended for graduate courses on these topics as well as historical and comparative methods."--Ellen Reese and Michael Walker, American Journal of Sociology

"Fox has set a scholarly agenda for a new social history of the American welfare state that will integrate the Southwest into a story largely about the Deep South and Northeast and that will bring Mexican immigrants into narratives told largely in black-and-white. Most importantly, this book and the work that will follow it has the potential to show how essential an active welfare state is to making immigration a driver of individual economic opportunity and national economic growth."--Jeffrey Helgeson, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"Fox's work is intended to inject new perspective into current debates about relief, citizenship, and state aid. It succeeds in reframing our understanding of the origins of the welfare state, and deserves to be widely read by scholars of immigration history, political history, and social history."--Sarah Elvins, Labour

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Cybelle Fox is assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the coauthor of "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings."
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii
Abbreviations xi
Chapter 1: Race, Immigration, and the American Welfare State 1
Chapter 2: Three Worlds of Race, Labor, and Politics 19
Chapter 3: Three Worlds of Relief 52
Chapter 4: The Mexican Dependency Problem 73
Chapter 5: No Beggar Spirit 95
Chapter 6: Deporting the Unwelcome Visitors 124
Chapter 7: Repatriating the Unassimilable Aliens 156
Chapter 8: A Fair Deal or a Raw Deal? 188
Chapter 9: The WPA and the (Short-Lived) Triumph of Nativism 214
Chapter 10: A New Deal for the Alien 250
Chapter 11: The Boundaries of Social Citizenship 281
Abbreviations in the Notes 295
Notes 299
Index 371
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