In the mid-1980s, the popularity of Charles Murray's anti-welfare treatise "Losing Ground" signaled the rising influence of the right-wing critique of welfare. In "Lost Ground: Welfare Reform, Poverty and Beyond," a respected array of social scientists buck the conservative trend established by Murray and his cohorts, exposing welfare reform as a sham and positing new strategies to end poverty.
Since the mid-1990s, when Bill Clinton betrayed his supporters on the left by signing welfare reform legislation, the United States has drastically restructured its national policies regarding basic state supports for the poor. Welfare reform legislation is up for reauthorization on the federal level and in 32 states in 2002, but evidence suggesting that welfare reform has created more problems than it has solved is starting to mount. For example, studies marking the 5-year anniversary of welfare reform show that children forced off AFDC (Aid for Dependents and Children) are significantly less successful in school and more inclined toward violent and criminal behavior, even when their mothers have found employment.
The downside of welfare reform is documented in "Lost Ground." And this anthology analyses welfare issues in the context of broad political shifts, including globalization, the end of the family wage, the sexual revolution, and the rise of black liberation, feminism, and multiculturalism. Contributors include Mimi Abramovitz, Willie Baptist, Mary Bricker-Jenkins, Linda Burnham, Linda Gordon, James Jennings, Gwendolyn Mink, Frances Fox Piven, Sanford Schram, Joe Soss and Lucie White.
Randy Albelda and Ann Withorn are professors at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. They have written several books and articles including "Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty" by Randy Albelda and Chris Tilly; and "For Crying Out Loud: Women's Poverty in the United States," edited by Ann Withorn and Diane Dujon.