By Linda Gordon
With three-fourths of all bad households headed by way of ladies and approximately fifty four percentage of single-mother households dwelling under the poverty line, a rethinking of the elemental assumptions of our much-reviled welfare application is obviously priceless. right here, Linda Gordon finds the tangled roots of AFDC (Aid to households with established Children). Competing visions of ways and to whom public reduction might be dispensed have been complex via male bureaucrats, black women's enterprises, and white innovative feminists. From their coverage debates emerged a two-track method of public relief, during which unmarried moms obtained hugely stigmatized "welfare" whereas different teams, comparable to the elderly and the unemployed, obtained "entitlements."
Gordon strips latest welfare debates of many years of inappropriate and irrational accretion, revealing that what seemed revolutionary within the Thirties is antiquated within the Nineties. She indicates that basically by means of laying off fake assumptions, and rethinking the character of poverty, do we boost a really potent welfare reform.
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Extra info for Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare, 1890-1935
By the mid- 1920s the latter visions had been rather definitively defeated, although the maternalist program had also been drastically reduced. By the time of the Social Security Act, it was clear that these programs had been outmoded from the beginning, not only in the inadequate size of their stipends and the proportion of single mothers covered, but also in their fundamental design. Indeed, they had never been appropriate to the problem they were said to address that of mothers alone with young children.
Many Progressive Era reformers were intensely concerned about sexual immorality and women's sexual victimization; feminists conducted a substantial crusade against prostitution, for example. But those concerned with single mothers and public aid did not at first generate an alarm about out-of-wedlock motherhood, probably because they did not want to call attention to these examples of unchastity among potential beneficiaries of aid. Widespread discussion of unmarried mothers began only after the wave of mother's aid laws was well under way.
Moreover, unsupported children might be placed into terrible conditions. Institutions were usually cold, rigid, punitive, and unhealthy; placements in individual homes were often exploitative, as many foster "parents" took children because they were seeking household, farm, or small-business labor power. Asylums were also physically dangerous: Infectious diseases would sweep through an institution, killing many of the youngest. ^"* As children grew older, they were less often placed out and more often sent to work; for this reason the discussion of single motherhood engaged those concerned about child labor as well.