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The New Racial Politics of Welfare: Ethno-Racial Diversity, Immigration, and Welfare Discourse Variation

Hana Brown
Social Service Review
Vol. 87, No. 3 (September 2013), pp. 586-612
DOI: 10.1086/673171
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/673171
Page Count: 27
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The New Racial Politics of Welfare: Ethno-Racial Diversity, Immigration, and Welfare Discourse Variation
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Abstract

AbstractResearch on race and welfare focuses largely on characterizations of black and white welfare recipients. Few studies examine racialized welfare discourse beyond the black-white divide. Employing media and archival data from four states during the 1996 welfare reforms, this study finds variation in welfare discourse depending on the perceived race of the beneficiaries. While existing work emphasizes the prevalence of a morality discourse about lazy and hyper-fertile black recipients, and which this study indeed finds predominant in Alabama and Georgia, in California and Arizona, debates centered on Hispanic, Asian, or Native American recipients, and discourse about law-and-order and economic opportunity prevailed. These types of discourse varied in racial character and in their claims about the causes of and solutions for welfare participation. Policy makers used the morality discourse to demand punitive welfare regulations, while law and order and economic opportunity discourses were used to promote immigration enforcement and economic development, respectively.

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