Women in the American Welfare Trap

By Catherine Pélissier Kingfisher | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

This book, like most of life's projects, is a coproduction. It is, perhaps, a cultural peculiarity that we claim ownership of what we produce, and that we often privilege single authorship of books, poems, paintings, and songs over collective production. Even at the level of the actual writing, I did not produce this book singlehandedly, but was assisted by a barrage of editors, official and unofficial. Since "acknowledgments" is where we locate [and bracket] the fact of coproduction, however, it is here that I list my accomplices (none of whom, of course, bear responsibility for this work -- sole responsibility being one of the hazards of single authorship).

First and foremost, the data in this book were coproduced by the recipients and workers who so graciously tolerated my various intrusions. They were dedicated and invaluable teachers. Their willingness to trust me, and, on occasion, to discuss activities that could have caused them considerable harm had they been revealed to others in the welfare system, indicates their desire to contribute to efforts to improve their situations. I hope that this study proves useful to them.

Robert Lovell of the Michigan Department of Social Services made this research possible by providing me with access to the Kenyon County welfare office. I thank him for his support and for his continuing interest in my work. I hope he finds this book helpful in his efforts to improve the working conditions of Assistance Payments workers in Michigan. In addition to Robert Lovell, I would like to thank the Director of the Kenyon County office for permitting my presence among her staff, a presence that no doubt was disruptive at times.

This book represents a substantially revised version of my doctoral thesis. My committee members, Ann Millard, Rita Gallin, Frederick Erickson, and Harry Raulet, were key coproducers of the original work. Aside from their various and invaluable expertise, I thank all of them for their patience, perseverance and good humor, all part and parcel of their remarkable skill as teachers. I would especially like to thank Ann Millard for her continuing collegiality, and Frederick Erickson for his willingness

-ix-

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Women in the American Welfare Trap
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Producing the World in Everyday Talk 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Welfare Trap I: Recipients 16
  • Chapter 3 - A Tenuous Advocacy 43
  • Chapter 4 - Us 56
  • Chapter 5 - Them 72
  • Chapter 6 - The Welfare Trap II: Workers 82
  • Chapter 7 - Good and (Mostly) Bad Clients 98
  • Chapter 8 - Further Productions: Attitudes and Policy 117
  • Chapter 9 - Trapped as They Are 131
  • Chapter 10 - Conclusions 157
  • Appendix A: Transcripts 163
  • Appendix B 189
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 203
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