This new edition updates a highly acclaimed work with an analysis of the most recent developments in welfare "reform" and welfare rights activism. Drawing on first-hand reports of women forced to leave welfare and other newly available data, Mimi Abramovitz documents the impact of this historic change in public policy on the lives of poor single mothers and their children. She punctures the highly publicized claims that equate successful reform with shrunken rolls, showing that if the reformers set out to improve the lives of women and children, something went dangerously awry. Abramovitz argues that welfare reform has penalized single motherhood; exposed poor women to the risks of hunger, homelessness, and male violence; swept them into low-paid jobs, and left many former recipients unable to make ends meet. In four readable essays, Under Attack, Fighting Back also presents the long history of punitive attacks on programs for poor single mothers and applies a gender lens to conventional theories of the welfare state.
The last essay, a short history of low-income women's activism during the twentieth century, pays special attention to the welfare rights activism spurred by the latest welfare reform. Contrary to popular wisdom, Abramovitz shows that poor women have always the courage and ability to fight back.