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Praxis for the Poor

Piven and Cloward and the Future of Social Science in Social Welfare

Sanford Schram

Publication Year: 2002

Praxis for the Poor puts the relationship of politics to scholarship front and center through an examination of the work of Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward. Piven and Cloward proved that social science could inform social-policy politics in ways that helped energize a movement. Praxis for the Poor offers a critical reflection on their work and builds upon it, demonstrating how a more politically-engaged scholarship can contribute to the struggle for social justice.

Necessary reading for political scientists, sociologists, social workers, social welfare activists, policy-makers, and anyone concerned with the plight of the poor and oppressed, Praxis for the Poor shows how social science can play a role in building a better future for social welfare.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. ix


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-8

In 1996, after nearly three decades of gridlock, the stalemate over public assistance in the United States was dramatically broken when President Bill Clinton agreed to sign the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The 1996 law ended “welfare as we knew...

Part I. The Theory of Practice

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1. What Accessibility Can’t Do: The Politics of Welfare Scholarship

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pp. 11-32

The call for compromise bulks large in welfare scholarship. This is especially the case when welfare scholars take on the role of “public intellectuals” who seek to influence public discourse on issues of social welfare policy. ...

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2. The Future of the Past: Jane Addams and the Social Work of Politics

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pp. 33-48

Forging a better future for social science in social welfare necessarily involves rethinking the relationship of theory to practice.1 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jane Addams was already demonstrating how social theory could be related to social practice in ways that engender fruitful connections between the two. ...

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3. Radical Incrementalism Personified: The Piven and Cloward Legacy

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pp. 49-108

Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward’s work represents a distinctive alternative on how to combine welfare scholarship and politics. They were perhaps the most important people to have done so in the twentieth century. Piven and Cloward’s work remains to this day among the...

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4. Which Side Are You On? Rethinking Research and Advocacy in Social Welfare

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pp. 109-135

The politics of scholarship in recent years highlights the difficulties of articulating politically productive and socially progressive relationships between social science research and social welfare politics. These difficulties are demonstrated in several recent calls for reconfiguring the relationship of social science to social welfare. ...

Part II. The Practice of Theory

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5. The Old Is New: The Racial Basis of Welfare Reform

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pp. 139-156

What is the future for social science in social welfare? Will it be a quantitative future or one focused on the narratives of policy discourse? Will it be dedicated to illuminating the iconography of social welfare and the role of representations in shaping the public imaginary on matters of social assistance? ...

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6. Putting a Black Face on Welfare: The Good and the Bad

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pp. 157-185

“Everyone who knows anything about welfare knows that most recipients are white.” This is a common statement among people concerned about racist representations of welfare in the mass media. It often goes unchallenged. In fact, in recent years it seems to have taken on the status of an...

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7. Success Stories: Welfare Reform, Policy Discourse, and the Politics of Research

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pp. 186-200

Welfare reform is a success! Or so one might think based on a majority of evaluations coming from leading public officials and media sources. After five years under the new policy regime, initial anxieties have given way to a rough consensus that welfare reform, up to this point, has succeeded. ...

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8. Compliant Subjects for a New World Order: Globalization and the Behavior Modification Regime of Welfare Reform

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pp. 201-240

There is an important debate about whether globalization needs to be taken seriously, especially in terms of its implications for social and economic life in the United States.1 There is also another important debate about whether welfare reform’s new behavior modification regime is more...

Appendix: Sources and Measures for Data in Chapter 5

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pp. 241-243


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pp. 245-289


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pp. 291-301

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About the Author

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p. 303

Sanford F. Schram teaches social policy and social theory in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College. He is the author of After Welfare: The Culture of Postindustrial Social Policy (New York University Press, 2000); and...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814786642
E-ISBN-10: 0814786642
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814798171
Print-ISBN-10: 0814798179

Page Count: 317
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 228142258
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Praxis for the Poor

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Economic policy.
  • Social justice -- United States.
  • Political socialization -- United States.
  • United States -- Social policy.
  • Poverty -- Government policy -- United States.
  • Cloward, Richard A.
  • Public welfare -- United States.
  • Piven, Frances Fox.
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