Feminism In The Welfare State

1960 Words4 Pages

This paper examines the enactment and development of the modern welfare state and a policy model of it in the United States, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. It presents a theoretical review of two radical yet different perspectives on the welfare state: feminist and power structure analyses. Feminist research of the welfare state has recently proposed a reconfiguration of welfare policy development. Feminist analysis approaches welfare policy from two standpoints: the state as a reproducer of inequality through social policy and women as active agents of an expanded welfare state benefiting them. The second theoretical framework is power structure analysis. Power structure research is an analysis of power and the unequal distribution of resources through formal and informal organizational networks engaged in any number of institutions including but not limited to economy, policy/law, and media.
Feminist Theoretical Approach
There are a number of feminist theories on the development of the welfare state and its policy byproducts. They include state-centered theory (Skocpol, 1985) and the social democratic view (Shalev, 1983). The former argues that the state is an autonomous organ that influences the political motives of official organizations, such as parties, and groups seeking policy change and rationally meets social needs (Skocpol, 1985, p.28). The state is the domineering force exerting its influence over all aspects of social life. The latter theory posits the development of the welfare state as an index of organized labor power or social democratic state (Quadagno, 2006, p.4). This view purports to explain the many welfare-related policies and programs of social democrac...

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...ifferent elements of conservatism had the effect of sanitizing previously Old Right ideas for less-ideologically inclined audiences (pp.138-139). The synthesis of old ideas with different concepts also had the added effect of reuniting conservatives and libertarians. Conservatives and libertarians generally agree on free-market principles, limited taxes, and a narrow social role for government.
Theoretical research provided this paper with insights about how social policy develops, the ways in which the welfare state affects women, and the methods in which we can gain a better understanding of the policy-making process. Theoretical public policy research pays particular attention to modes of social thought articulated by welfare. It describes the contours of the welfare reform debate in terms of the policy proposals and the social effects of welfare policy.

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