Gendering the Welfare State Essay

Gendering the Welfare State Essay

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Gendering the Welfare State

The impetus for the creation of welfare in the United States was children . Children are viewed as a social good— the good students (or the troubled youth) of tomorrow or the devoted worker (or the unemployed worker) of the future. However rampant the notion of the free-market, capitalist society, children, argued proponents, are not autonomous beings and should not be treated as so. Therefore, it was morally right and just to create a program providing for children who could not be provided for. Along the long road from New Deal policies, welfare shifted form many times, most notably to adjust to the growing sense that family is also a part of child development and well-being and parents must be included in financial support. The welfare system as we have known it in our lifetimes has been in place for the supposed aid of families and children. This paper will lay out the main components of the current welfare system, test the extent to which the system purports to be women and family friendly and the extent to which it actually is, and locate the place men have within the system. Furthermore, I will look to the current state of welfare as it approaches reauthorization, reviewing proposed changes and suggesting others to fully discover that the United States welfare system, though providing a very necessary service, devalues women and acts as a block against women acquiring agency and independence.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed TANF into law. The 'Temporary Aid For Needy Families' policy created several new distinctions between itself and pre-'96 law. The most important, with regard to scope and effect on women, were the devolution of power to the states, a federally imposed five-year...

... middle of paper ...

...he American welfare system, which in many ways is a useful tool for families living in poverty. The attention to women, promised by the program but not realized in its actuality, must be reevaluated if the system is going to become a tool for empowering women and turning out productive members of society.

Internet Sources:

1) Families that Work: Policies for Reconciling Parenthood and Employment. Janet C. Gornick Marcia K. Meyers. New York. Russell Sage Foundation. 2003.

2) "Reforming Welfare by Rewarding Work". Hage, Dave. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press. 2004

3) "Common Dreams News Center. "Unequal Treatment Over the Law". Online: available:

4) "Marriage and Welfare Reform: The Overwhelming Evidence that Education Works. Online. Available:

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