By Bob Wineburg
Ranging from the Reagan years to the present -- a crucial period in both social welfare policy development and the history of religious involvement in social services -- A Limited Partnership explores an important undercurrent in the new welfare policy. Robert Wineburg argues that the present policy, with its emphasis on services increasingly being delivered by the faith community, simply cannot work the way its architects envisioned. He calls for rationality in finding solutions to the complex problems of poverty and the division of responsibilities for helping those in need at the local level. Using almost twenty years of data from Greensboro, North Carolina, as a long-term case study, the author examines how the budget cuts of the Reagan era, the Bush era, and the Clinton era altered the relationships among religious congregations and other agencies. The book presents a vivid picture of the chaos caused by these policy changes at the level of service delivery and clearly demonstrates that the religious community cannot be the sole provider of social services but instead must remain an important but limited partner with a special role in delivering social services. Wineburg's study provides a fresh perspective on a policy debate that genuinely lacks understanding of how politics, religion, and a complicated web of social services operate at the community level.