Babies as Barriers

Welfare policy discourse in an era of neoliberalism

Authored by: Linda Houser , Sanford F. Schram , Joe Soss , Richard C. Fording

The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415673440
eBook ISBN: 9781315755519
Adobe ISBN: 9781317627401


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Over the past four decades, shifting labor markets have severely diminished the work and income prospects for low-skilled Americans. Partly as a response, public assistance programs have been redesigned to prod people into whatever jobs the changing economy provides (Peck, 2001). Under the neoliberal logic that guides these programs, paid work has been enshrined as the chief responsibility of citizenship (Soss et al., 2011). Activities that were once seen as societal contributions in their own right (e.g., care of children or aging adults) are now widely viewed as impediments to paid work (Stone, 2007). In the process, a remarkable variety of life conditions have come to be known by a simple term: barriers.

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