Gendered public policy: How welfare reform attempts to reconstitute the nuclear family

Jennifer Ann March, Fordham University


This dissertation examines the premise that reforms of AFDC policy have not sought to empower women in ways which would allow them to meet their domestic and economic needs independently. The study finds that the Family Support Act's JOBS program was subject to a gender bias which hindered female participants from obtaining economic independence. The study not only calls into question the debate leading up to policy reforms and the design of the JOBS program, but documents how gender bias is revealed in the structure of the program mandates and program options, the program's performance measurement system, and in the impact of participation on AFDC clients. The study illustrates how program administrators were permitted and encouraged to design, monitor, and implement JOBS programs in ways that produced budgetary savings, reduced and simplified bureaucracy, and enforced client compliance with preferred social and economic norms. These actors failed to design, monitor, and implement welfare to work programs in ways which would address client needs because the Family Support Act lacked a genuine commitment to female economic independence. The influence of the JOBS program's experience on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 is also examined, underscoring the gendered interests that guide policy formation and the likelihood that new reforms will negatively impact client well-being.

Subject Area

Public administration|Social work

Recommended Citation

March, Jennifer Ann, "Gendered public policy: How welfare reform attempts to reconstitute the nuclear family" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9964572.