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Abstracts from Volume 35, Number 1
(March, 2008)


SPECIAL ISSUE ON HISTORY OF
CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL POLICY

INTRODUCTION TO THE SPECIAL ISSUE
Richard K. Caputo, Special Editor

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD: EPITOMIZING
DEVOLUTION THROUGH FAITH-BASED
ORGANIZATIONS

Robert J. Wineburg, Brian L. Coleman, Stephanie C. Boddie,
and Ram A. Cnaan

The original New-Federalism agenda that emerged with the
Reagan administration weakened federal programs and transferred
power to states and localities. While Ronald Reagan and George
Herbert Walker Bush’s years were characterized by block grants
and dismantling public assistance, the Clinton years will be remembered
for the dismantling of AFDC. Recruiting faith-based
organizations to provide social services epitomized the second
Bush presidency. In this article, we demonstrate how the seeds for
recruiting faith-based groups were planted before and during the
Reagan years, and how two waves of devolution chipped away at
our national commitment to welfare. These first two waves provided
both the ideological and practical means for faith-based
social service delivery, which epitomizes the third wave of devolution.
We also briefly review the incorporation of religion in social
services as part of the neo-federalist trend of the Reagan legacy.

SOCIAL WORK IN THE WORKFARE REGIME:
A COMPARISON OF THE U.S. AND AUSTRALIA

Catherine McDonald and Michael Reisch

Australia and the U.S. are both liberal welfare states. During the
past quarter century, they have begun the transition from a welfare
to a workfare state, albeit at different rates and through different
paths. Social work developed in each country in ways congruent
with the local liberal welfare state, and as such, has been destabilized
by the transition to the workfare regime. Drawing on neo-institutional
theory and extant empirical research in other professionalized
fields, the paper suggests that this transition can be understood as
an aspect of institutional change. By comparing the developments
in two similar, yet different nations, this analytical framework provides
fresh insights into the nature, motives, and consequences of
the transition and its impact on social work. Further, by adopting
the comparative approach, the paper demonstrates that the theoretical
framework used has utility beyond specific nation state boundaries
to understand developments in social work more broadly.

SOCIAL SECURITY PRIVATIZATION: AN
IDEOLOGICALLY STRUCTURED MOVEMENT

Judie Svihula and Carroll L. Estes

We document the cumulative change in expressions of support
for Social Security’s social insurance ideals to privatization, from
the late 1970s through 2007. Social Security’s basic structure and
principles generally were supported by the United States government
and in amendments to the original Act of 1935. However, in
the 1980s market arguments began to proliferate in government
alongside pension privatization projects by international governmental
organizations and conservative think tanks. Although
in 1983 Commission members concluded “the Social Security
system is sound in principle…and…structure,” four members
wrote a supplemental statement that emphasized market rationalism.
By 1994 dissension in Congress was apparent. The history
of Social Security privatization reveals an increasing ideological
alignment on the political agenda among transnational organizations,
financial institutions, conservative think tanks, Congress,
Presidents, and the Social Security Commission and Board of
Trustees. Our research denotes the ideological alignments that
formed the foundation for a politically motivated social movement.

THE ILLUSION OF CHANGE, THE POLITICS OF
ILLUSION: EVOLUTION OF THE FAMILY SUPPORT

ACT OF 1988
Luisa S. Deprez

The enactment of the Family Support Act was the outcome of a
six-year legislative and administrative review of, and debate about,
welfare policy and programs. Heralded as the opportunity of the
century, it did little, however, to alter existing policy. This article
examines the evolution of the Family Support Act within the United
States Congress, spotlighting two important time periods leading
up to its enactment: 1981 to 1985 and 1986 to 1988. Original documents
from the files of the late Senator Moynihan, legislative sponsor
of the Family Support Act, as well as a comprehensive investigation
of Congressional records of hearings and debates, media editorials
and commentaries, and extensive Congressional interviews
form the basis for this analysis which vividly illustrates the politics
of welfare policy-making in the United States. It concludes with observations
about the policy implications of the Family Support Act
and offers insight into how its passage paved the way for the Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

WHEN DOES PUBLIC OPINION MATTER?
Jennifer L. Christian

The landmark 1996 reform to Aid to Families with Dependent
Children (AFDC) provides an opportunity to study processes of
welfare reform in the United States. A potential factor behind the
transformation of AFDC is public opinion, possibly in the form
of changes in attitudes among politically relevant groups. This
study will evaluate this thesis, focusing on attitudinal changes
between partisan identifiers. Most data suggest the American
public may have been critical of welfare programs prior to the
1996 reform. However, the extent of these criticisms generally
varies depending on who is asked, how questions are worded and
the type of program. Using General Social Survey (GSS) data, I
analyze trends in public opinion among political identifiers and
evaluate the process through which the 1996 reform was enacted.

 

POLITICAL ECONOMY, MORAL ECONOMY AND THE
MEDICARE MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2003

Judie Svihula

Through the lens of political and moral economy, I examined
the dominant values and actors in the legislative process of the
Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. In my content analysis of
federal hearings, I found that witnesses from government agencies,
Congress and think tanks had almost equal presence at the
hearings. Witnesses who were invited by Congress to testify at
the hearings expressed twice as much support for private interests
than for the general Medicare population or low-income beneficiaries.
Few expressed concern for the uninsured population.
Witnesses offered almost four times as many expressions of support
for market rationalism than social insurance and three times
as many than for improving Medicare’s solvency/sustainability.
The 2008 presidential candidates are split between support for
social insurance and support for the private market. Medicare advocates
will need to devote extraordinary efforts to significantly
counterweigh the strength and influence of market rationalists.

A DECENT HOME FOR EVERY FAMILY? HOUSING
POLICY INITIATIVES SINCE THE 1980s

Sondra J. Fogel, Marc T. Smith, and Anne R. Williamson

A fundamental economic and social principle embedded in the American
psyche remains the value of shelter. However, housing policy
is the result of a complex exchange among economic, political, and
social agendas competing for attention within the multiple levels of
local, state, and federal governments. This article intends to capture
what we consider a few of the significant initiatives since 1980 that
reflect these tensions and comprise our current housing policies and
directions. Furthermore, we suggest additional housing issues that
may need to be addressed by the next presidential administration.

DOES BELIEF MATTER? SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL
CHARACTERISTICS AND THE LIKELIHOOD OF
WELFARE USE AND EXIT

Michele Lee Kozimor-King

Numerous studies have reemerged examining social psychological
variables as predictors of individual differences in the human experience.
Still, current research focusing on the effects of self-beliefs
on welfare use and exit is limited. This study examines the effects
of social psychological variables on the likelihood of welfare use and
five-year outcomes of women using data from the 1979 through
2000 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY).
Binary logistic regression estimates suggest that social psychological
characteristics are initially related to welfare use, but do not
remain once control variables are introduced. While social psychological
predictors do not appear to have strong or robust direct effects
in multivariate models, traditional human capital variables
of public assistance outcomes past initial entry are significant.

SOCIAL WELFARE POLICY AND PUBLIC ASSISTANCE
FOR LOW-INCOME SUBSTANCE ABUSERS

Sean R. Hogan, George J. Unick, Richard Speiglman, and
Jean C. Norris

Prior to January 1, 1997, individuals with drug- or alcohol-related disabilities could qualify for federal public assistance through the
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. During the welfare
reforms of the Clinton administration, this policy was changed,
resulting in lost income and health care benefits for many low-income
substance abusers. This paper examines the historical underpinnings
to the elimination of drug addiction and alcoholism
(DA&A) as qualifying impairments for SSI disability payments.
Following this, empirical evidence is presented on the effect this
policy change had on the subsequent economic security of former
SSI DA&A beneficiaries. Findings indicate that study participants
who lost SSI benefits suffered increased economic hardship
following the policy change. These findings have important
implications for future social welfare policymaking decisions.

TRACING THE HISTORY OF MEDICARE HOME
HEALTH CARE: THE IMPACT OF POLICY ON
BENEFIT USE

Joan K. Davitt and Sunha Choi

We trace key policy changes that affected use of the Medicare home
health benefit from the 1980s through the prospective payment
system implemented in 2000, analyzing the impact on three measures
of home care use: expenditures, users and visits. We demonstrate
the impact of policies generated in the legislative, the judicial,
and the executive branches of government and the gaming
behavior of home health agencies in response to policy changes.
Our analysis suggests that the policy itself and the implementation
process are critical to understanding benefit use. The incentives
in the policies and agency reactions had the potential to generate
fraud in two directions, either over or underuse. Throughout
this history, use of the benefit was driven less by patient need than
by arbitrary interpretations of eligibility. These interpretations
were in turn influenced by opposing ideologies favoring redistribution
based on market principles versus those based on need.

 

Due to the overwhelming response to this Special Issue
topic, Book Reviews and Book Notes will appear in the
next issue.

 

 

 

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