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Stratified Reproduction and Poor Women's Resistance

Karen McCormack
Gender and Society
Vol. 19, No. 5 (Oct., 2005), pp. 660-679
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27640834
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Stratified Reproduction and Poor Women's Resistance
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Abstract

The welfare mother is a powerful symbol of the supposed irresponsible, sexually promiscuous, and immoral behavior of the poor. Resting on dominant ideologies of race, class, and gender, the welfare mother suggests not a poor mother but a bad mother. Based on interviews with 34 mothers receiving public assistance, this article explores how women receiving assistance claim for themselves an identity as good mothers by defining the appropriate responsibilities of mothers to prioritize, protect, discipline, provide for, and spend time with their children. The material realities of poverty combined with work requirements now attached to public assistance exacerbate contradictions between these roles and create difficulties for these mothers. This article explores these contradictions and examines the possibilities for and limits of their use as resistance strategies.

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