ERIC Number: ED104976
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1973-Mar
Reference Count: 0
The Politics of Poor Relief: A Study in Ambiguities.
Holden, Matthew, Jr.
The essay addresses both the question of poverty and the scope of political science. The study of poverty demands a transeconomic approach because the act of making an economic choice is fundamentally political, but the act is likely to be ambiguous and that ambiguity is peculiarly revealed in the politics of poor relief. While the idea of "welfare" implies an underlying concept of "rights,""poor relief" actually reflects policymakers' judgments about which parts of the population can be left over when the most important economic choices (macroeconomic policy) are being made. In the U.S. public relief is a form of aid accruing to those who are jobless and whose joblessness is not their own "fault," using the social estimation of fault. Its chief form is public assistance. Public assistance is ambiguous, both as to loci of decision and to policy content. The ambiguity as to loci of decision is an expression of (1) federalism and (2) the changing administrative legislature relationship as policy once more becomes open to debate, hence "legislativized." The ambiguity as to policy is expressed (1) in the variety of "welfare reform" proposals and the inability to secure approval for any, and (2) the inversion of reform symbolism since the 1960's, so that it now has a restrictive tone, but (3) the fact that the conservatizing trend has also been exaggerated. (Author/JM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Economic Opportunity, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Univ., Madison. Inst. for Research on Poverty.