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Regulating the Poor:
Marshaling a vast array of research, Frances Fox Piven and Richard A Cloward persuasively demonstrate how public relief has been used to avert civil chaos during economic downturns and to exert pressure on the work force during periods of stability. Their analysis ranges from the early history of poor relief through the inception of welfare during the Great Depression to its massive erosion during the Reagan and Bush years. The authors provide a conceptual framework that sharply illuminates the problems current and future administrations will encounter as they attempt to rethink the welfare system. Admirably specific yet vast in its implications, Regulating the Poor is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about the American social contract. [via]