Social reform in a society with conflicting tendencies

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SW 150—Dinis--Handout

Core Content of Each Chapter from The Reluctant Welfare State (Bruce Janson)

Chapter One


Main points to understand:

  • the conflicting tendencies in American society regarding social problems

  • while specific populations have often experienced a disproportionate burden of social problems, many social problems afflict most Americans at one point or another in their lives

  • the controversial nature of social policy

  • the ideologies of conservatives, libertarians, liberals and radicals and how these ideologies affect their support for social policies

  • the complexity of most social problems and the difficulties that social workers often face in dealing with these problems

  • the need for social workers to be proactive participants in the shaping of social policies

  • how social policy history provides an ideal means of evolving our personal "policy identities" and allows us to evaluate the social work profession

  • while we must not ignore the differences between the contemporary period and prior eras, we can still make evaluative judgments about those eras

Chapter Three


Main points to understand:

  • the feudal inheritance (i.e., social welfare functions were assumed by the church, social and economic conservatism discouraged basic changes in land ownership and participation in political affairs by ordinary people)

  • the gradual unraveling of feudalism and the new ideas that influenced early American settlers

  • policy choices in the period of transition (positive and punitive polices; i.e., the Elizabethan Poor Law Act of 1601, denial of civil liberties to the poor, laws of settlement)

  • while American society in 1750 was similar to England, the colonists created a political culture and institutions that departed markedly from England by 1800

  • the process of transformation at the inception of the Republic and the forces that led to this change (access to land, capitalism, absence of aristocracy and monarchy)

  • how the American Revolution acted as a catalyst that moved Americans to define their differences from the Old World and to forge a distinctive set of institutions

  • why the American Revolution was not a revolution in the traditional sense

  • the process from Revolution to limited government (the construction of the Constitution, which did not mention social policy as one of the enumerated powers, and the debate between Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians)

  • the conflicting tendencies in social policy at the nation's (i.e., positive policies such as

charity, state and local regulations, private philanthropy, but also punitive policies such as

workhouses, indentured service, laws of settlement)

  • the harsh treatment of Native Americans, slaves, women

  • how the early belief that Americans had created a utopian society retarded the development of social programs

Chapter Four


1789 1860
Main points to understand:

  • the harsh social realities in the new nation

  • how a preoccupation with personal economic issues, with settling the frontier, and with regional issues diverted attention from serious social problems in the nation

  • the rapid growth of American cities and the harsh conditions that existed within them

  • the moral crusade to rid the land of social problems defined not by social and economic inequality, but by "willful" violation of social norms. Social problems were generally viewed as emanating from the moral defects of citizens.

  • the development of national solutions to social problems was impeded by the localistic nature of the new society. Thus, social reformers of the 19th century usually turned to local governments, as well as to nongovernmental organizations.

  • the social reform policies developed by Americans in the early and middle nineteenth century ("moral treatment"; policies initiated to give Americans political, economic and social opportunities; policies devised to control, regulate, and oppress racial minorities)

  • the extent to which this period was devoted to institution building and how these institutions were meant to purge the moral defects from the citizenry

  • the absence of powerful radical movements in America provided uncertain pressure for the development of social welfare programs

  • the experiences and survival strategies of outgroups in the early republic, including Irish immigrants

  • the status of women and the "cult of domesticity"

Chapter Five


Main points to understand:

  • the responses of Americans to the rapid settlement of the frontier, the emergence of the Civil War, and the development of the industrial system resulted in lost opportunities for social reform

  • policy at the American frontier consisted of land policies that enriched mostly speculators and railroad companies and extreme prejudice against Native Americans, Spanish speaking people, and Asian immigrants

  • the coinage of the term "manifest destiny" and its effects on indigenous populations

  • the American frontier was a success when viewed in terms of the speed in which the population was dispersed through the countryside and the rate at which the I and was cleared, cultivated and/or ranched, but it was a failure when viewed in terms of the development of social institutions to meet common human needs

  • the multiple factors that contributed to the emergence of the Civil War (sectional rivalries, nationalism, moralistic ideology)

  • the lack of social programs for freed slaves and the application of the moral treatment ideology to the African American population by the abolitionists

  • social policy during the war toward dislocated persons (Freedmen's Bureau)

  • the comparison between the advantages enjoyed by European immigrants and the condition of freed slaves

  • the status of women during and after the war

  • the speed at which the transformation from an agricultural to an industrial society took place in America and the resulting effects on its population (economic turmoil, rapid population growth, poor working conditions, economic inequality)

  • the failure of regulation to mitigate harmful social and economic problems that accompanied industrialization

  • the inability of unions to counter the strength of corporations and financiers, which had taken advantage of a power and policy vacuum after the Civil War

  • the changes in popular culture that helped to impede social reform (social Darwinism and the deification of affluent persons)

Chapter Six


Main points to understand:

  • the negative consequences of industrialization, mostly borne by immigrants, and the strategies used by immigrants to face this adversity

  • how catalytic events (i.e., the depression of 1893), public opinion, and the emergence of social unrest eventually led to reform

  • the regulatory emphasis of the Progressives

  • the achievements of the Progressives (regulations, reforms for women and children, and workmen's compensation)

  • the limited social programs of the Progressive Era and why the Progressives' social reforms were of a limited nature (political and cultural barriers, lack of state, local, and federal revenues to fund major social programs)

  • why women and children received most of the attention during the Progressive era (Muller v. Oregon (1908) and the tactical ingenuity of women's organizations)

  • the Bull Moose Campaign of 1912, the reformers' dreams of political realignment, and the failure of the Progressive Party

  • the environment faced by racial minorities, women, and immigrants during the Progressive Era

  • the strategies, difficulties, and achievements of Jane Addams and other social reformers

  • the emergence of the social work profession

  • how the medical profession and the Supreme Court retarded social reform

  • the achievements of the Progressives, though seemingly limited to contemporary citizens, represented remarkable innovations during the early twentieth century

  • the Progressives championed the role of the government in addressing a range of social problems and thus served as precursors to the development of the modem welfare state

Chapter Seven

Main points to understand:

  • the decade of the 1920s (the second American industrial revolution, a "trickle down" economic philosophy)

  • the era of denial (1929 to March 1933) (Hoover's conservative response to the Depression

  • the period of emergency reforms (March 1933 to January 1935)

  • the forces behind FDR's reforms (support of the working and middle class, the magnitude of human suffering, the disarray of the Republican Party after Hoover's defeat)

  • the forces that limited reform (political opposition from conservatives, limited union support, lack of fiscal and governmental institutions to implement reform, lack of a well developed radical movement in the US, local organizations of unemployed persons sprung up, but were not united and focused on existing programs, FDR's conservative advisors and dissension among them, FDR's own beliefs (he was not a radical))

  • the emergency programs created by FDR to provide relief, jobs, and food to destitute Americans (i.e., the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Civilian Works Administration (CWA), the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the food stamp program

  • FDR's fiscal, monetary, regulatory and market support strategies to reform the economic system

Chapter Eight

Main points to understand:

  • reforms established during the second New Deal (November 1934 November 1936)

  • the pressure that FDR received from social reformers, such as Harry Hopkins and Huey Long, who wanted to expand social reform during the second half of the New Deal

  • the conservative pressure on FDR

  • how the combination of liberal and conservative pressures on FDR led confusing patterns of deletions,

  • continuations, and additions to New Deal programs as well as compromises on new legislation

  • legislation enacted during the second half of the New Deal

the Social Security Act

the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

the Works Progress Administration (WPA)

the National Youth Administration (NYA)

  • the era of stalemate (1936 1941); the halting of Roosevelt's reform momentum

  • how the emergence of WWII led to attacks on social reform

  • the policies enacted during the era of stalemate

increased funding for the WPA, CCC, and NYA

the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1938

  • outgroups in the New Deal (African Americans, women, Latinos, and Asian Americans)

  • the role of social workers during the New Deal

  • how the New Deal contributed to and furthered the evolution of the reluctant welfare state

Chapter Nine


Main points to understand:

  • why social reform was impeded during World War 11, the postwar era, and the 1950s (conservative pressure, public opinion, international developments, the Cold War, military spending, racial animosities by the white population toward African Americans)

  • the serious social problems that existed in the 1960s, which initiated a turn toward reform (poverty, African American discontent, economic inequality, hazardous working conditions, various problems faced by mentally ill and disabled persons, etc.)

  • domestic policy during the Kennedy presidency

  • the reform failures and successes of the Kennedy presidency

  • the Johnson Administration's contribution to social welfare reform (civil rights legislation, Earl Warren and the Supreme Court, Medicare and Medicaid, aid to education, the War on Poverty, welfare reform, and food stamps)

  • the profound consequences that Johnson's involvement in Vietnam had on his social policies

  • Johnson's loss of credibility

  • the treatment of outgroups during the 1960s

  • social work in the 1960s

  • overall assessment of the Great Society

Chapter Ten

Main points to understand:

  • the peculiar mixture of liberalism and conservatism during the decade of the 1970s

  • Richard Nixon's ascent to the White House

  • the "inner circle of ambivalence" that existed in the White House during Nixon's first term that led to contradictory social policies

  • Nixon's "floating coalition strategy" and "political outbidding" as strategies to gain support for social reforms

  • the social reforms enacted during the first term of the Nixon Administration (welfare policy, Social Security, revenue sharing and social services, civil rights, health policy and other legislation)

  • Nixon's turn to the right in 1972 and the resulting assault of reformers

  • the short reign of Gerald Ford and the continuing stalemate between conservatives and liberals over the size of social spending

  • Jimmy Carter's entrance onto the Washington scene and the domestic legislation enacted during his tenure

  • Carter's fall from political grace and loss to Ronald Reagan

  • the hidden social spending revolution of the 1970s

  • outgroups in the 1970s changes in tactics and organization new sets of outgroups the 1970s as a revolution in rights the beginnings of backlash

Chapter Eleven



Major points to understand:

  • the resurgence of conservatism between 1966 and 1980

  • the various demographic and social trends that weakened the Democratic party and

  • the campaign and marketing tactics of the Republicans

  • the expansion of the constituency of conservatism in the late 1970s

  • the emergence of Ronald Reagan as a catalyst for a conservative movement

  • Reagan's emergence as a national hero, his adoption of supply side economics, and the

campaign of 1980

  • the Reagan policy blitzkrieg

major budget cuts (OBRA)

tax cuts

elimination of many regulations

reductions in the policy roles of the federal government

massive increases in military spending

programs (why he is often called the "guns and butter president")

  • Reagan's loss of momentum (a result of a split within the Administration, a deep recession,

more willingness by Democrats to resist Reagan's polices)

  • Social Security, job training, and Medicare polices during the first Reagan Administration

  • the election of 1984

  • Reagan's second term

  • the transfer of power from Reagan to Bush

  • the social policies of the Bush Administration

  • outgroups in the era of Reagan and Bush

  • the social work profession in this era

Chapter Twelve




Main points to understand:

  • the ascendance of Bill Clinton

  • the search for the "real" Bill Clinton

  • the search for the "New Democrat"

  • the 1992 campaign

  • Clinton's promises of deficit reduction, a stimulus package, social investments,

health care reform, the repeal of the ban on gays in the military

  • a brief discussion of the budget process

  • the demise of Clinton's stimulus package

  • early warning signs that Clinton's social investments would be gutted

  • the halving of social investments

  • the second year: anti crime legislation, but no health reform

  • building a revolution within the counter-revolution

  • the House Republicans take charge (Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America)

toward a budget resolution, how far would Clinton retreat?

  • outgroups during the Clinton Administration

  • the enactment and implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Act

  • policy issues posed by the emergence of budget surpluses in 1998 and succeeding years

  • issues posed by cuts in federal discretionary spending

Historical Perspectives of Social Welfare Policies
19th C 1900s-1930 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s

(Conservative v. Liberal)

Economic Climate
Key Actors

(e.g., President)

Social (Work/Welfare) Programs Developed

Or Considered

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