Rachel Fuchs shows how poor urban women in Paris negotiated their environment, and in some respects helped shape it, in their attempt to cope with their problems of poverty and pregnancy. She reveals who the women were and provides insight into the nature of their work and living arrangements. With dramatic detail, and drawing on actual court testimonies, Fuchs portrays poor women's childbirth experiences, their use of charity and welfare, and their recourse to abortion and infanticide as desperate alternatives to motherhood.
Fuchs also provides a comprehensive description of philanthropic and welfare institutions and outlines the relationship between the developing welfare state and official conceptions of womanhood. She traces the evolution of a new morality among policymakers in which secular views, medical hygiene, and a new focus on the protection of children replaced religious morality as a driving force in policy formation.
Combining social, intellectual, and medical history, this study of poor mothers in nineteenth-century society illuminates both class and gender relations in Paris, and illustrates the connection between social policy and the way ordinary women lived their lives.
Starting with a brief overview of the history of charity medical care, Jonathan Engel presents the debates surrounding Medicaid’s creation and the compromises struck to allow federal funding of the nascent programs. He traces the development of Medicaid through the decades, as various states attempted to both enlarge the programs and more finely tailor them to their intended targets. At the same time, he describes how these new programs affected existing institutions and initiatives such as public hospitals, community clinics, and private pro bono clinical efforts. Along the way, Engel recounts the many political battles waged over Medicaid, particularly in relation to larger discussions about comprehensive health care and social welfare reform. Poor People’s Medicine is an invaluable resource for understanding the evolution and present state of programs to deliver health care to America’s poor.
Over seven million Americans are either incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, with their criminal records often following them for life and affecting access to higher education, jobs, and housing. Court-ordered monetary sanctions that compel criminal defendants to pay fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution further inhibit their ability to reenter society. In A Pound of Flesh, sociologist Alexes Harris analyzes the rise of monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system and shows how they permanently penalize and marginalize the poor. She exposes the damaging effects of a little-understood component of criminal sentencing and shows how it further perpetuates racial and economic inequality.
Harris draws from extensive sentencing data, legal documents, observations of court hearings, and interviews with defendants, judges, prosecutors, and other court officials. She documents how low-income defendants are affected by monetary sanctions, which include fees for public defenders and a variety of processing charges. Until these debts are paid in full, individuals remain under judicial supervision, subject to court summons, warrants, and jail stays. As a result of interest and surcharges that accumulate on unpaid financial penalties, these monetary sanctions often become insurmountable legal debts which many offenders carry for the remainder of their lives. Harris finds that such fiscal sentences, which are imposed disproportionately on low-income minorities, help create a permanent economic underclass and deepen social stratification.
A Pound of Flesh delves into the court practices of five counties in Washington State to illustrate the ways in which subjective sentencing shapes the practice of monetary sanctions. Judges and court clerks hold a considerable degree of discretion in the sentencing and monitoring of monetary sanctions and rely on individual values—such as personal responsibility, meritocracy, and paternalism—to determine how much and when offenders should pay. Harris shows that monetary sanctions are imposed at different rates across jurisdictions, with little or no state government oversight. Local officials’ reliance on their own values and beliefs can also push offenders further into debt—for example, when judges charge defendants who lack the means to pay their fines with contempt of court and penalize them with additional fines or jail time.
A Pound of Flesh provides a timely examination of how monetary sanctions permanently bind poor offenders to the judicial system. Harris concludes that in letting monetary sanctions go unchecked, we have created a two-tiered legal system that imposes additional burdens on already-marginalized groups.
A view of Persian and Hellenistic Judean communities through theological and socioeconomic lenses
Johannes Unsok Ro employs philological, historical, and sociological approaches to investigate the close connections between socioeconomic structures, social inequality, and theological developments in the Judean communities in Persian- and Hellenistic-era Palestine. Ro contends that competing points of view from communities of lay returnees, priestly returnees, and communities of resident Judeans and Samaritans were juxtaposed within the Hebrew Bible, which took shape during the postexilic period. By exploring issues such as the relationship between the shaping of the canon and literacy in the Judean community, the term strangers in the biblical law codes, the socioeconomic structures of Judean communities reflected in the biblical law codes, the development of the theological concept of divine punitive justice, the piety of the poor in certain psalms, and the concept of poverty in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ro illustrates that the communities behind each text and its redactions can be ascertained through sociological and theological lenses.
Welfare reform was supposed to end welfare as we know it. And it has. The welfare poor have been largely transformed into the working poor, but their poverty persists. This hard-hitting book takes a close look at where we’ve gone wrong—and where we might go next if we truly want to improve the lot of America’s underclass.
Tracing the roots of recent reforms to the early days of the war on poverty, A Poverty of Imagination describes a social welfare system grown increasingly inept, corrupt, and susceptible to conservative redesign. Investigating the causes of the ongoing failure of welfare assistance, Stoesz focuses on the economic barriers that impede movement out of poverty into the American mainstream. He explores such issues as the heterogeneity of welfare families, generational welfare, inadequate benefits, the negative effects of time limits on welfare recipients, a fringe banking industry that exploits low-income families, the limited capacity of low-wage markets, and the unavailability of credit.
Stoesz suggests that a form of "bootstrap capitalism" would allow individuals and families to participate more fully in American society and achieve upward economic mobility and stability. This proposal, emphasizing wage supplements, asset building, and community capitalism, sets the stage for the next act in poverty policy in the United States. With its valuable insights on the American welfare system and its positive agenda for change, this book makes a significant intervention in our ongoing struggle to come to terms with widespread poverty in the wealthiest nation on earth.
The Progressive Era has been depicted as a seismic event in American history—a landslide of reform that curbed capitalist excesses and reduced the gulf between rich and poor. Progressive Inequality cuts against the grain of this popular consensus, demonstrating how income inequality’s growth prior to the stock market crash of 1929 continued to aggravate class divisions. As David Huyssen makes clear, Progressive attempts to alleviate economic injustice often had the effect of entrenching class animosity, making it more, not less, acute.Huyssen interweaves dramatic stories of wealthy and poor New Yorkers at the turn of the twentieth century, uncovering how initiatives in charity, labor struggles, and housing reform chafed against social, economic, and cultural differences. These cross-class actions took three main forms: prescription, in which the rich attempted to dictate the behavior of the poor; cooperation, in which mutual interest engendered good-faith collaboration; and conflict, in which sharply diverging interests produced escalating class violence. In cases where reform backfired, it reinforced a set of class biases that remain prevalent in America today, especially the notion that wealth derives from individual merit and poverty from lack of initiative.A major contribution to the history of American capitalism, Progressive Inequality makes tangible the abstract dynamics of class relations by recovering the lived encounters between rich and poor—as allies, adversaries, or subjects to inculcate—and opens a rare window onto economic and social debates in our own time.
The decentralization of public policy from the federal government to state and local governments offers increased opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate directly in public policymaking. Yet these opportunities may not be equally shared. Due to a variety of factors, low-income citizens have long been denied a meaningful role in the public life and governance of our country.
By contrast, the essays in this volume explore how low-income citizens have successfully affected public policy. The book is built around six case studies, all from Texas, that cover education finance and reform, local infrastructure provision, environmental protection, and indigent health care.
This research illuminates several issues of national importance, including how communities gain standing and recognition for themselves and their issues, how policy agendas are defined, how communities mobilize technical and institutional resources, and how they form coalitions and alliances to accomplish their goals.
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