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Caring for Our Own

Sandra R. Levitsky

Published in print May 2014 | ISBN: 9780199993123
Published online June 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199378906 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199993123.001.0001
Caring for Our Own

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  • Gerontology and Ageing
  • Social Movements and Social Change

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Aging populations and changes in health care, household structure, and women’s labor force participation over the last half century have created a “crisis in care”: demand for care of the old and infirm is rapidly growing, while the supply of private care within the family is substantially contracting. And yet despite the adverse effects of the long-term care crisis on the economic security of families and the health of family caregivers, American families have demonstrated little inclination for translating their private care problems into political demands for social policy reform. Caring for Our Own inverts an enduring question of social welfare politics. Rather than asking why the American state, a known laggard in all matters involving social welfare, hasn’t responded to unmet needs by expanding social entitlements, this book asks: Why don’t American families view unmet needs as the basis for demands for new state entitlements? How do traditional beliefs in family responsibility for social welfare persist even in the face of unmet need? The answer, this book argues, lies in a better understanding of how individuals imagine solutions to their social welfare problems and what prevents politicized understandings of social welfare provision from developing into political demand for reform. This book considers the ways in which existing social policies shape the political imagination, reinforcing longstanding values about family responsibility, subverting grievances grounded in notions of social responsibility, and in some rare cases, constructing new models of social provision that transcend existing ideological divisions in American politics.

Keywords: long-term care; caregivers; social welfare; policy reform; entitlements; rights; political demand; family responsibility; social provision; politicize

Book.  224 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gerontology and Ageing ; Social Movements and Social Change

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Introduction in Caring for Our Own

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