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The Ideology of Division: Behavior Modification Welfare Reform Proposals

28 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2012  

Lucy A. Williams

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: 1992

Abstract

Even before the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the rhetoric of “welfare reform” debate blamed recipients for their poverty while diverting attention from structural problems of our society. Proponents of “reform” argued that by withholding welfare benefits, government could change recipients’ behavior, transform present recipients into “productive members” of society, and solve the intractable problems of poverty. This article analyzes two of the most popular behavior-modification models, Learnfare and Family Cap, and contends that these “reform” efforts were driven by a New Right agenda, an “ideology of division” that manipulated public opinion by highlighting racial and gender biases.

Suggested Citation

Williams, Lucy A., The Ideology of Division: Behavior Modification Welfare Reform Proposals (1992). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 102, No. 3, pp. 719-746, 1992; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2003037

Lucy A. Williams (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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