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Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare
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Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Marshaling a vast array of research, Frances Fox Piven and Richard A Cloward persuasively demonstrate how public relief has been used to avert civil chaos during economic downturns and to exert pressure on the work force during periods of stability. Their analysis ranges from the early history of poor relief through the inception of welfare during the Great Depression to i ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published September 28th 1993 by Vintage (first published 1971)
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Steven Peterson
This book by Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward came out over three decades ago. And it is still powerful reading and powerful analysis. I would not expect everyone to agree with the authors' contentions, but once having read this book, you will be challenged in your understanding of welfare policy. Indeed, both many liberals and many conservatives alike are apt to be irritated by this book.

In short, the key point the authors make is that welfare policies are designed to pacify rebellious ou
As an intellectual homeless shelter resident with a master's degree and physical challenges restricting me to a desk job that I have yet to be offered in spite of 2,891 applications in the past 30 months, I was recommended this book by John Sheehan, the social worker at the soup kitchen at the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York. He told me that Piven, who is still living and speaks at sociology conferences was his inspiration to become a social worker. At the time, I was reading Barbara E ...more
Sep 22, 2007 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mark
Shelves: social-sciences
While a lot of this seems obvious to me now, I remember it being quite a revelatory book for me when I first read it.

Given the current debate, no, hysteria, re immigration perhaps a sequel is (over) due.
Absolutely vital to understanding the sober reality of the position of the American poor in politics.
Kim B
I first read this book back in 1976. It's pretty telling that I remember the book but not the class that required the book. I've recommended this book to all my liberal friends who have such a hard time understanding the conservative construct through the lens of a conservative. Making that mental leap that the systems exist not for moral reasons but for the sole purpose of controlling the poor is hard for most people. In addition, this book explains the historical basis for this thought process ...more
Regulating the Poor is the second book by Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward that I've read. (The first was Poor People's Movements.) Both books have left me with a completely new vision of American history and a totally different understanding of how social change happens and what kinds of victories average people can expect to win in this country.

Before reading Regulating the Poor, there were two books I'd read this year–Poor People's Movements and Nixonland–that have gone far beyond being
Kevin Reuning
A critical book to read if you want to understand the development of the welfare state in the US. The authors connect the history of disruption and welfare expansion from the 1920s to the 1970s.
Fredrick Danysh
The poor have always been with us. This work is an acidic dissertation on the role of welfare upon the economy and labor forces. Capitalism and socialism are compared and contrasted. The authors give evidence that since the 1960s, in the United States that many of the poor feel entitlement to money and services without having to make zany form of labor contribution. An interesting read as the number of unemployed grow and they demand more gifting as a right.
Oct 15, 2014 James added it
Absolutely essential book about the relation between welfare programs and low wage work.
Jan 19, 2012 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: food justice advocates and everybody else
Recommended to Emily by: Doug Henwood
Shelves: nonfiction, occupy
Connects Britain's enclosure movement to the plantation ecomony of the U.S. South and relevant to Off the Books. An essential read.

"Compared to the more developed welfare states, [U.S. relief] programs are backward, even cruel. Compared to what they might have been in the absense of protest, the American welfare state is an achievement."

Behind the News Interview with Piven:
Although published decades ago, the book posits a theory that is still applicable today. For those wanting some insights into federal govenment discretionary spending rationale, this is a must read.
I haven't read this in a looong time but it is an essential text in the field of sociology. It first came out in 1971 and the second edition was early 1990s. It explains pretty clearly the necessity of a welfare system and also some of the problems with various welfare plans.
Thomas Simard
Reading this book should change the way in which you look upon the poor and upon welfare programs.

If I were a social scientist and had written this, I would feel very satisfied.

A classic.
John Cook
Apr 01, 2013 John Cook rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in government regulation or in poverty law.
Shelves: history
I read the original edition of this book in 1972, and it made a lasting impression. I recently learned of this revised edition and bought it immediately.
I read this book at ten years ago, and I still go back to it for quotations.
Alsoud Soud
I didn't really read it. I started it, but I didn't finish it.
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