Welfare Recipients Talk Back

Lisa D. Brush

in Poverty, Battered Women, and Work in U.S. Public Policy

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195398502
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897483 | DOI:

Series: Interpersonal Violence

Welfare Recipients Talk Back

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This chapter presents stories and causal analyses written by eight current and former welfare recipients who participated in a community literacy project. As they tell their stories of toil and trouble, tenacity and redemption, the writers respond to myths about poverty, motherhood, work, and relationships. They produce narratives to represent how they have experienced conflicts affecting welfare recipients’ safety, solvency, or eligibility for welfare benefits. The writers also provide their own causal analyses of their situations and trajectories and carry on imaginary dialogs with rival perspective and explanations, to which they in turn ‘talk back.’ The particulars of these women’s situations–and especially the ways that relationships with controlling men obstruct not just their employment but their realizing their life projects–often do not fit with the categories through which the criminal justice and welfare systems try to recognize the “needs” of poor or abused women.

Keywords: community literacy project; welfare; motherhood; poverty

Chapter.  15459 words. 

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