Review of Edwin Amenta, Bold Relief: Institutional Politics and the Origins of Modern American Social Policy
Sociological Forum, Vol. 15, No. I, 2000
4 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2014
Date Written: 2000
In Bold Relief, Edwin Amenta sets aside the conventional wisdom that the American welfare state was destined to be backward. He asks what might have been had the New Deal system of jobs provision and relief survived World War II. To do this he rejects the current view of the 1930s, as a time when a piecemeal system of social insurance emerged that set the stage for the future, and considers what policymakers of the 1930s envisioned. The title of the book, Bold Relief captures the system they put into place. That system transformed the United States from a social insurance laggard into the world's leader. The two pillars were a conventional cash aid program and an aggressive public employment program to provide jobs for those who were disappointed by the private sector.
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