Race, Ethnicity and Welfare States
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Race, Ethnicity and Welfare States

An American Dilemma?

Edited by Pauli Kettunen, Sonya Michel and Klaus Petersen

In this interdisciplinary volume, leading and emerging scholars examine the relationship between homogeneity and welfare state development. They trace Gunnar Myrdal’s influence on thinking about race in the US and explore current European states’ approaches to the strangers in their midst, and what social citizenship looks like from a global perspective.
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Chapter 4: The US welfare state’s punishment of black women’s childbearing and care giving

Dorothy Roberts


Race has always governed the meaning of welfare in the United States. White Americans’ fears that blacks will benefit from public assistance have worked to make welfare in the United State both puny and punitive. Two chief systems within the US welfare state – public aid and child protection services – penalize black women for their role as mothers. This chapter examines public policies toward black women’s childbearing and care giving by the US welfare state in order to elucidate how race helps to maintain welfare’s punitive features in the United States.

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