Wily Patients, Welfare Queens, and the Reiteration of Race

Khiara M. Bridges

in Reproducing Race

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268944
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520949447 | DOI:
Wily Patients, Welfare Queens, and the Reiteration of Race

Show Summary Details


This chapter begins with an examination of the acrimony characterizing the relationship between the clinic staff and their pregnant patients, suggesting that the acerbity of this relationship is rooted in employees' perception of the patients as uneducated. It explores this construction of the health-care seeking subject—the wily patient. It argues that the wily patient parallels the figure of the welfare queen, similarly constructed as an uneducated, yet again somehow incredibly shrewd, manipulator of federal and state governments. It discusses the origin of the stereotype of the welfare queen at the hands of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and examines why he was able to get so much mileage out of it. It concludes with a discussion of how the discursive non-whiteness of the wily patient affects the experiences of those material wily patients who are racialized as white.

Keywords: uneducated; wily patient; federal government; state government; stereotype; welfare queen; Ronald Reagan; 1980s; racialized

Chapter.  20202 words. 

Subjects: Race and Ethnicity

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.