The Wages of Motherhood: Inequality in the Welfare State, 1917-1942 / Edition 1

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Entering the vigorous debate about the nature of the American welfare state, The Wages of Motherhood illuminates ways in which a "maternalist" social policy emerged from the crucible of gender and racial politics between the world wars. Gwendolyn Mink here examines the cultural dynamics of maternalist social policy, which have often been overlooked by institutional and class analyses of the welfare state.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book's brevity and repetitiveness enhance the clarity of its argument, making it a quick and accessible read for policymakers and students alike. Its challenge to contemporary liberal thinking about poor women's work make it a provocative text for courses in public welfare policy, women's labor history, and recent feminism, as well as a needed reminder to activists for social justice."—Labor History

"In this fascinating book, Mink analyzes the development of early welfare policies and programs. . . . She sheds considerable light on the forces of racism and sexism as continuing influences on the structuring and restructuring of American social responsibility."—Choice

"Mink places racial and . . . 'cultural' differences among women at the forefront of her analysis. She underlines the chasm that lay between women who had the power to make policy and women who needed public funds and services to keep their families alive. . . . Mink's work suggests that, indeed, we do need to 'end welfare as we know it,' and to replace it with a generous, universal system of social protections—something we've never yet had."—In These Times

"Carefully researched and tightly argued, The Wages of Motherhood illuminates the source of today's social policy dilemmas."—Linda Gordon, author of Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare

"What happens to race and gender equality, and to the reach of the welfare state, when welfare programs are proposed as maternalist interventions to save the family and improve moral character rather than as class and universal entitlements of citizenship? Mink shows how debates and policy in the Progressive period cast their shadow over the fundamental issues of contemporary domestic politics."—Michael Rogin, author of Ronald Reagan the Movie; and Other Episodes in Political Demonology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801495342
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The Promise of Motherhood: Maternalist Social Policy between the Wars 3
Ch. 2 Wages for Motherhood: Mothers' Pensions and Cultural Reform 27
Ch. 3 "A Baby Saved Is a Citizen Gained": Infancy Protection and Maternal Reform 53
Ch. 4 Schooling for Motherhood: Woman's Role and "American" Culture in the Curriculum 77
Ch. 5 Cultural Reform across the Color Line: Maternalists and the Politics of Educational Provision 97
Ch. 6 Maternalism in the New Deal Welfare Slate: Women's Dependency, Racial Inequality, and the Icon of Welfare Motherhood 123
Ch. 7 Wage Earning or Motherhood: Maternalist Labor Policy during World War II 151
Afterword: Postmaternalist Welfare Politics 174
Index 193
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