Regulating The Lives of Women

Civis Mundi Digitaal #74

Widely praised as an outstanding contribution to social welfare and feminist scholarship, Regulating the Lives of Women (1988, 1996) was one of the first books to apply a race and gender lens to the U.S. welfare state. The first two editions successfully exposed how myths and stereotypes built into welfare state rules and regulations define women as "deserving" or "undeserving" of aid depending on their race, class, gender, and marital status. Based on considerable new research, the preface to this third edition explains the rise of Neoliberal policies in the mid-1970s, the strategies deployed since then to dismantle the welfare state, and the impact of this sea change on women and the welfare state after 1996. Published upon the twentieth anniversary of "welfare reform," Regulating the Lives of Women offers a timely reminder that public policy continues to punish poor women, especially single mothers-of-color for departing from prescribed wife and mother roles.The book will appeal to undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students of social work, sociology, history, public policy, political science, and women, gender, and black studies – as well as today’s researchers and activists.



Publication Data:

Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy from Colonial Times to the Present, 3rd Edition


ISBN: 9780415785501| Paperback | 316 Pages| $31.96 | August 22, 2018

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About The Author:

Mimi Abramovitz, the Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Policy in the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA, writes extensively about women, welfare, poverty and activism. From welfare caseworker to welfare rights organizer to welfare state scholar, Abramovitz has galvanized a generation of students explaining how public policy shapes the lives of white women and women of color and how they fight back.


The 2018 recipient of the prestigious Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award.


Read our interview to discover more about her recent book here:




"Regulating the Lives of Women is an essential resource. A classic account of how gendered social policies shape poor women’s options, this new edition is especially important given the end of welfare and growing challenges to women’s well-being."

Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity and R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History, Columbia University, USA

"Regulating the Lives of Women, a nuanced history of American social welfare policy through a feminist lens, reveals how gendered and racialized division of labor and the racialized institutions frame social policy and the lives of all women. Defining the welfare state as an arena of political struggle, the book is a must for students, researchers, progressive policy makers and activists who will find it both insightful and, better yet, useful."

John Ehrenreich, author of Third Wave Capitalism and Professor of Psychology at SUNY Old Westbury, USA