Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy from Colonial Times to the Present

By Mimi Abramovitz | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

Writing a book is both an independent endeavor and a product of all that has come before. The values given me by my family, friends, and education clearly influenced the questions that I've asked. The social movements I participated in--Civil Rights, anti-war, and Women's Liberation--all played an enormous role in shaping my worldview.

The subjectivity and isolation involved in writing means that the advice and support of others is crucial. Many colleagues contributed to the development of this book. Harold Lewis, Miriam Dinerman, Dorothy O. Helly, Dorothy Miller, Joel Blau, and Jan Hagan read extensive portions of the manuscript and discussed it with me in depth. Their comments were invaluable in helping me to clarify, modify, develop, and present my ideas. The critiques and perceptive responses offered by Joan Tronto, Barbara Cristy, Sylvia Wenston, and Jo Grellong immensely improved specific chapters. In particular, I want to thank Clarke C. Chambers. The extra time, the attention to detail, the long singlespaced typed letters, and the many drafts he read added enormously to the depth, breadth, and historical accuracy of the book. I shamelessly took advantage of his love for American social welfare history. His enthusiastic encouragement validated my efforts and gave me the courage to proceed.

My intellectual debt to Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, authors of Regulating the Poor. The Functions of Public Welfare, is acknowledged in the title of the book. As one of the first in my social work education to offer an analytic framework for understanding the origins and functions of public welfare, Regulating the Poor suggested the possibility of having a way to think about the welfare state. While my ideas, like the authors' own, have developed since then, the impact of that important work has remained.

Hunter College School of Social Work, where I worked while writing this book, offered a supportive environment. Donna Shalala, President of Hunter College, created an atmosphere in which feminists might thrive. Harold Lewis, Dean of the School of Social Work, regularly encouraged me to pursue my ideas and not to avoid risks. The faculty

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