Both Hands Tied: Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom in the Low-Wage Labor Market

Both Hands Tied: Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom in the Low-Wage Labor Market

by Jane L. Collins, Victoria Mayer

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Both Hands Tied studies the working poor in the United States, focusing in particular on the relation between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. Grounded in the experience of thirty-three women living in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, it tells the story of their struggle to balance child care and wage-earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jobs with inflexible schedules—and the moments when these jobs failed them and they turned to the state for additional aid.

Jane L. Collins and Victoria Mayer here examine the situations of these women in light of the 1996 national Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and other like-minded reforms—laws that ended the entitlement to welfare for those in need and provided an incentive for them to return to work. Arguing that this reform came at a time of gendered change in the labor force and profound shifts in the responsibilities of family, firms, and the state, Both Hands Tied provides a stark but poignant portrait of how welfare reform afflicted poor, single-parent families, ultimately eroding the participants’ economic rights and affecting their ability to care for themselves and their children.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226114071
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 05/15/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 932,993
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Jane L. Collins is the Evjue Bascom Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the author of Threads: Gender, Labor and Power in the Global Apparel Industry, among other titles. Victoria Mayer is assistant professor of sociology at Colby College.

Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsPreface1 Introduction: The Connection Between Welfare and Work2 Welfare Reform’s Context: The Growth of the Low-Wage Service Sector3 Welfare Reform’s Content: Building Connections Between Work and Welfare4 Tying the First Hand: The Solitary Wage Bargain5 Tying the Second Hand: Challenges to Economic Citizenship6 Both Hands Tied: The Race to the Bottom in the Low-Wage Labor Market7 Conclusion: Untying the HandsAppendix A. Description of Interview ProcessAppendix B. Interview ProtocolAppendix C. Economic Composition of SampleAppendix D. Industrial Composition of Milwaukee and RacineAppendix e. Wisconsin Works (W-2)DocumentsNotesReferences


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