Nov 19, 2004

(To request a review copy, contact Barbara Jester by phone, fax 212.995.4021, or email.)

Long-standing beliefs about African American mothers were the foundation for the contentious 1996 welfare reform debate that effectively “ended welfare as we know it,” according to Ange-Marie Hancock, author of The Politics of Disgust: The Public Identity of the Welfare Queen (216 pages/$60, cloth; $20, paper), to be published by New York University Press in December.

By examining the public identity of the so-called welfare queen and its role in hindering democratic deliberation, Hancock shows how stereotypes and politically motivated misperceptions about race, class, and gender were effectively used to instigate a politics of disgust. The ongoing role of the politics of disgust in welfare policy is revealed here by using content analyses of the news media, the 1996 Congressional floor debates, historical evidence, and interviews with welfare recipients themselves.

Hancock’s incisive analysis is both compelling and disturbing, suggesting the great limits of today’s democracy in guaranteeing not just fair and equitable policy outcomes, but even a fair chance for marginalized citizens to participate in the process.

Hancock is an assistant professor of political science and African American studies at Yale University.

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