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Both Hands Tied: Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom in the Low-Wage Labor Market [Paperback]

Jane L. Collins , Victoria Mayer

Price: CDN$ 28.53 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

May 1 2010

Both Hands Tied studies the working poor in the United States, focusing in particular on the relation between welfare and low-wage earnings among working mothers. Grounded in the experience of thirty-three women living in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, it tells the story of their struggle to balance child care and wage-earning in poorly paying and often state-funded jobs with inflexible schedules—and the moments when these jobs failed them and they turned to the state for additional aid.


Jane L. Collins and Victoria Mayer here examine the situations of these women in light of the 1996 national Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and other like-minded reforms—laws that ended the entitlement to welfare for those in need and provided an incentive for them to return to work. Arguing that this reform came at a time of gendered change in the labor force and profound shifts in the responsibilities of family, firms, and the state, Both Hands Tied provides a stark but poignant portrait of how welfare reform afflicted poor, single-parent families, ultimately eroding the participants’ economic rights and affecting their ability to care for themselves and their children.

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"The originality of Both Hands Tied lies not just in its rich case study interview materials - in poor women's voices and the trajectories of their work and home lives - but in its careful tying of those materials to shifting national, state, and local economic policies." - Micaela di Leonardo, Northwestern University"

About the Author

Jane L. Collins is the Evjue Bascom Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the author of Threads: Gender, Labor and Power in the Global Apparel Industry, among other titles. Victoria Mayer is assistant professor of sociology at Colby College.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Research April 27 2010
By Daniel - Published on
I have been fortunate enough to take a course with Prof. Collins at Wisconsin and this book only deepened my respect for her and her work. This is precisely the type of research that makes sociology such an important and dynamic field--understanding the effect social policy has on the way actual people live their lives.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and readable June 5 2014
By worddancer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Commentators have noted what a sham welfare 'reform' has been. BOTH HANDS TIED helps us see why that is, and appreciate the high cost of the retreat for all concerned....except the 'new' employers who have been given our support for offering less and less to their employees.

It's a disgrace.

When will our policies renounce hatred of the poor?
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars None sense Oct. 3 2013
By Xuan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It waste my money to buy it. The book itself did not do anything wrong, I hate it because I was insane to sign up the course which needs this book and I get nothing from it. Sociology sucks!

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