Deprez, Luisa S.
About the author: Luisa S. Deprez is Director of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Southern Maine. She writes and teaches on social welfare policy including politics, ideology and public opinion in the policy process, women and welfare, and language politics. A Fellow of the National Center on Adult Learning, she is conducting work on women, welfare, and higher education. She received her PhD from Brandeis University.2002 0-7734-7226-6
This study makes in important contribution to understanding the politics of policy-making by exploring the relationship between political ideology, public opinion, and social welfare policy. It investigates this linkage through a case study of the Family Support Act of 1988. Findings are based on analysis of Congressional hearings and debates, news media editorials and commentaries (over three years), Congressional interviews, and documentary evidence obtained from the private legislative files of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the legislative sponsor. The latter, exclusive access to the files, provides the study with a unique perspective: it enables a ‘policy story’ to be told using ‘insiders’ information. Prevailing notions about poverty, dependency and welfare, and the role of government are examined and placed within in a theoretical framework grounded in individualistic and structuralist perspectives.
“. . . argues that, trapped within an intensifying individualistic discourse which blamed women’s attitudinal and behavioral deficiencies for poverty, the Family Support Act of 1988 necessarily failed to address the structural sources of female-headed family poverty and set the tone for the even more punitive and coercive Personal Responsibility Act of 1996. This book connects a history of social welfare ideas in the 1980s to a micro-analysis of the legislative process, showing how ideas are embodied in legislation. . . . Deprez shows in meticulous detail how these ideas turned up in editorials, opinion columns, and congressional hearings.” – Peggy Kahn