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The Disciplinary Apparatus of Welfare Reform

Janine Fitzgerald

Abstract


In 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), to end "welfare as we know it." PRWORA, euphemistically referred to as "welfare to work" or simply "welfare reform," has fundamentally changed the status of women within U.S. capitalism. Historically, women’s roles in the sexual division of labor have been to reproduce the laborer (cook and keep house) and reproduce the labor force (have children). If women had to work in the formal labor force, then society demanded that they hold jobs appropriate to their gender. There has always been a gender-based social discipline of women whether they were wage earners or homemakers. It is interesting to note that still today beauty contests, sexual harassment, and compulsory use of birth control pills are all forms of discipline enforced on women in many third world factories. Of course, sexual harassment is common in the workplaces of the rich capitalist countries as well.

Keywords


Sex; Inequality; Labor

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14452/MR-056-06-2004-10_5

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