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Both Hands Tied: Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom in the Low-Wage Labor Market

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Both Hands Tied studies the working poor in the United States, focusing in particular on the relation between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. Grounded in the experience of thirty-three women living in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, it tells the story of their struggle to balance child care and wage-earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jo Both Hands Tied studies the working poor in the United States, focusing in particular on the relation between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. Grounded in the experience of thirty-three women living in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, it tells the story of their struggle to balance child care and wage-earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jobs with inflexible schedules—and the moments when these jobs failed them and they turned to the state for additional aid.   Jane L. Collins and Victoria Mayer here examine the situations of these women in light of the 1996 national Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and other like-minded reforms—laws that ended the entitlement to welfare for those in need and provided an incentive for them to return to work. Arguing that this reform came at a time of gendered change in the labor force and profound shifts in the responsibilities of family, firms, and the state, Both Hands Tied provides a stark but poignant portrait of how welfare reform afflicted poor, single-parent families, ultimately eroding the participants’ economic rights and affecting their ability to care for themselves and their children.


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Both Hands Tied studies the working poor in the United States, focusing in particular on the relation between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. Grounded in the experience of thirty-three women living in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, it tells the story of their struggle to balance child care and wage-earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jo Both Hands Tied studies the working poor in the United States, focusing in particular on the relation between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. Grounded in the experience of thirty-three women living in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, it tells the story of their struggle to balance child care and wage-earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jobs with inflexible schedules—and the moments when these jobs failed them and they turned to the state for additional aid.   Jane L. Collins and Victoria Mayer here examine the situations of these women in light of the 1996 national Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and other like-minded reforms—laws that ended the entitlement to welfare for those in need and provided an incentive for them to return to work. Arguing that this reform came at a time of gendered change in the labor force and profound shifts in the responsibilities of family, firms, and the state, Both Hands Tied provides a stark but poignant portrait of how welfare reform afflicted poor, single-parent families, ultimately eroding the participants’ economic rights and affecting their ability to care for themselves and their children.

30 review for Both Hands Tied: Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom in the Low-Wage Labor Market

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Absolutely invaluable, phenomenal, and heartbreaking book about the (d)evolutions of welfare and the labor market.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lorette

    How policy and welfare reform intersect, particularly in the Rancine/Milwaukee area, at the cost of poor, single mothers. Will make you angry.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Brilliantly demonstrates how welfare reform and the the increasing demand for low-wage service workers in the current economy are mutually constituted social processes. Very well executed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Devries

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Harmon

  6. 4 out of 5

    Geno Mehalik

  7. 4 out of 5

    Navya

  8. 4 out of 5

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  9. 4 out of 5

    C

  10. 5 out of 5

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  12. 5 out of 5

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  13. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

  14. 4 out of 5

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  15. 4 out of 5

    Meg

  16. 5 out of 5

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  17. 5 out of 5

    William Richardson

  18. 5 out of 5

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  19. 4 out of 5

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  20. 5 out of 5

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  21. 4 out of 5

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  22. 5 out of 5

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  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  24. 5 out of 5

    Keith Rada

  25. 5 out of 5

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  26. 4 out of 5

    Goutham Kandru

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kari

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alejandra (Allie)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kolanowski

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roxie Brookshire

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