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Workfare or Fair Work: Women, Welfare, and Government Work Programs

by Nancy Ellen Rose

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Can the welfare system  in the United States accord people dignity? That question is often left out of the current debates over welfare and workfare. In this provocative book, Nancy Rose argues that the United States has been successful in the past--notably during the New Deal and in the 1970s--at shaping programs that gave people "fair work."            However, as Rose documents, those innovative job creation programs were voluntary and were mainly directed at putting men back to work. Women on welfare, and especially women of color,  continue to be forced into a very different kind of program: mandatory, punitive, and demeaning. Such workfare programs are set up for failure. They rarely train women for jobs with futures, they ignore the needs of the women's families, and they do not pay an honest wage. They perpetuate poverty rather than prevent it.            Rose uses the history of U.S. job creation programs to show alternatives to mandatory workfare. Any effort to redesign welfare in America needs to pay close attention to the lessons drawn from this perceptive analysis of the history of women, welfare, and work. This is an indispensable book for students, scholars, policymakers, politicians, and activists--for everyone who knows the system is broken and wants to fix it.  … (more)
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Can the welfare system  in the United States accord people dignity? That question is often left out of the current debates over welfare and workfare. In this provocative book, Nancy Rose argues that the United States has been successful in the past--notably during the New Deal and in the 1970s--at shaping programs that gave people "fair work."            However, as Rose documents, those innovative job creation programs were voluntary and were mainly directed at putting men back to work. Women on welfare, and especially women of color,  continue to be forced into a very different kind of program: mandatory, punitive, and demeaning. Such workfare programs are set up for failure. They rarely train women for jobs with futures, they ignore the needs of the women's families, and they do not pay an honest wage. They perpetuate poverty rather than prevent it.            Rose uses the history of U.S. job creation programs to show alternatives to mandatory workfare. Any effort to redesign welfare in America needs to pay close attention to the lessons drawn from this perceptive analysis of the history of women, welfare, and work. This is an indispensable book for students, scholars, policymakers, politicians, and activists--for everyone who knows the system is broken and wants to fix it.  

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