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Book Summary

Katz, Michael 2001. The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State. New York: Metropolitan Books.

In this book, Michael Katz explores the history of the American welfare state and offers his projections for its future. He reviews the major welfare policy overhauls of the twentieth century, paying attention to the ideological underpinnings of each one. This serves to chronicle the change in national mindset from welfare as a safety net for all, to a set of programs designed to force people into the workforce. As a result, welfare no longer serves to protect Americans from the unpredictability of the market, but rather makes them more subject to it.

Katz focuses on the increasing ties between welfare and employment. In the quest to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving poor, policy makers have gradually changed the definition of citizenship in America toward including only those with jobs. Katz discusses the magnitude of this shift, pointing out the negative effect that it has had on the nations neediest citizens. Katz views the history of welfare through the lens of what it means to be an American citizen, giving an eye-opening view of the consequences of altering this definition.

Chapter 1: The American Welfare State. Katz unpacks the "American welfare state" to reveal an elaborate framework of public and private systems.

Chapter 2: Poverty and Inequality in the New American City. The author looks at the economic, demographic, and spatial forces that have created the modern American city.

Chapter 4: Governors as Welfare Reformers. Governors became the most prominent welfare reform agents during the 1990s by cutting benefits, changing regulations, and experimenting with new welfare programs.

Chapter 5: Urban Social Welfare in an Age of Austerity. Katz chronicles funding changes that have affected America's largest urban areas.

Chapter 6: The Independent Sector, the Market and the State. American charity and social services have traditionally been provided by a complex blend of private organizations and public agencies.

Chapter 7: The Private Welfare State and the End of Paternalism. The author describes the private welfare state in the United States, which consists of work-related benefits, mainly those offered by employers to their workers.

Chapter 9: New Models for Social Security. Katz examines Social Security in the U.S. and the question of whether or not the government should privatize this system.

Chapter 10: The Assimilation of Healthcare to the Market. Katz recounts the development of the U.S. healthcare system and notes its chronic inability to provide reasonable coverage at reasonable costs to those most in need of public assistance.

Chapter 12: The End of Welfare. An overview of the pre-1996 welfare system, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and its overhaul under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA).

Epilogue: Work, Democracy and Citizenship. Katz analyses the contemporary concept of citizenship in U.S. society to discuss the viability of welfare in the current context of the three forces that are redefining the welfare state: 1) the war on dependence, 2) devolution, and 3) markets.