Family Support Act of 1988 a Case Study of Welfare Policy in the 1980s

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This study makes in important contribution to understanding the politics of policy-making by exploring the relationship between political ideology, public opinion, and social welfare policy. It investigates this linkage through a case study of the Family Support Act of 1988. Findings are based on analysis of Congressional hearings and debates, news media editorials and commentaries (over three years), Congressional interviews, and documentary evidence obtained from the private legislative files of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the legislative sponsor. The latter, exclusive access to the files, provides the study with a unique perspective: it enables a ‘policy story’ to be told using ‘insiders’ information. Prevailing notions about poverty, dependency and welfare, and the role of government are examined and placed within in a theoretical framework grounded in individualistic and structuralist perspectives.

“. . . argues that, trapped within an intensifying individualistic discourse which blamed women’s attitudinal and behavioral deficiencies for poverty, the Family Support Act of 1988 necessarily failed to address the structural sources of female-headed family poverty and set the tone for the even more punitive and coercive Personal Responsibility Act of 1996. This book connects a history of social welfare ideas in the 1980s to a micro-analysis of the legislative process, showing how ideas are embodied in legislation. . . . Deprez shows in meticulous detail how these ideas turned up in editorials, opinion columns, and congressional hearings.” – Peggy Kahn

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface by Sanford Schram
1. Introduction
2. The Context of Social Welfare
3. Social Policy in the 1980’s
4. The Evolution of the Family Support Act of 1988
5. An Analysis of the Debates in the Media and Congress
6. Emerging Ideas in the Debate on Welfare
7. The Triumph of Individualism in Welfare Policy in 1988
8. The Worst of All: Welfare Policy in 1996
Appendices; Bibliography; Index

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