Work, Welfare and Politics conference (fwd)

Anitra Freeman (
Sun, 23 May 1999 18:02:39 -0700 (PDT)

Call For Participants in a Conference on
Work, Welfare and Politics
University of Oregon
February 28-March 1, 2000

Sponsored by the Wayne Morse Chair of Labor and Politics,
The Center for the Study of Women in Society, and
The Labor Education and Research Center
University of Oregon

Current welfare policy in the United States is premised on a series of
assumptions about the relationship between work, public assistance and
poverty.  Among these core beliefs are that any type of work is better
than welfare, and that participation in the labor force is the key to
moving families out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.  Welfare reform
is taking place against the backdrop of grim economic realities faced by
many low-wage workers, political and economic policies that have
diminished the power of labor, and what Frances Fox Piven calls the
breaking of the American compact."  This conference aims to explore the
wisdom, impact and political context of welfare reform and related labor,
tax and economic policies across class, race and gender lines.

The conference coincides with the University of Oregon residency of Dr.
Frances Fox Piven, holder of the Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics in
the year 2000.  Professor Piven is one of the foremost authorities on
poverty and politics in the United States.  Her research has spanned over
twenty-five years of work on social welfare policy, poor people's
political mobilization and electoral politics.  Frances Fox Piven will
give a keynote address at the conference.

The goal of the conference is a dialogue between and among researchers,
faculty and students, policy makers, human service providers, labor
organizers, poor people's organizations, and members of the local
community.  We envision two types of conference presentations: academic
research papers that provide a strategic analysis of work and welfare
issues; and more informal presentations by community groups, welfare
rights organizations, policy makers and other practitioners in the field.

Papers presented at the conference will be selected for inclusion in a
published volume which is intended to serve as a major analytical
contribution to the national debate over the policy and politics of
welfare and work.

We invite proposals for presentations at the conference in the following

Welfare Reform: Is It Working?

How has the well-being of low-income families been affected by changing
policies, including welfare and labor policies in the past decade?  Do
policies such as  work first", family caps, time limits and other features
of recent workfare programs effectively serve the interests of poor
families?  How is the role of motherhood being reformulated in light of
welfare reform?

Limits to Opportunity: Employment Conditions for Low-Income Americans

Beyond the specific focus on welfare recipients, what are the broader
economic realities of the low-wage labor market?  What are economic
conditions like -- are there enough decently paying jobs, are people able
to support themselves or their families, are they able to move out of
poverty?  How have economic changes of the past few decades affected the
compensation, quality of work life, upward mobility and security or
insecurity of workers in the low-wage labor market?  How will the influx
of millions of new welfare workers affect this market?  How similar or
distinct are the economic challenges facing welfare recipients and other
low-wage workers?

The Politics of Anti-Poverty Policy

What is the relationship between welfare reform and other social and
economic policies of the past two decades?  What is the political context
for understanding welfare reform?  What political dynamics created the
consensus for welfare reform?  What are the prospects of effective
political mobilization behind alternative policy agendas?  How are welfare
recipients, welfare advocates, and other poor people's organizations
responding to the politics of welfare reform?

To propose a paper for this conference, please submit an abstract of
between 250-500 words, including 1) your name and affiliation; 2) the
title of your paper; 3) a description of the content of the paper; and 4)
an indication of the research (or other sources of information and
expertise on which the paper will be based.)  Proposals must be submitted
by August 9, 1999 to Terri Heath, Conference Coordinator, Center for the
Study of Women in Society, 340 Hendricks Hall, 1201 University of Oregon,
Eugene, OR 97403-1201.

Gordon Lafer
Labor Education and Research Center     Phone: (541) 346-2786
1289 University of Oregon                 Fax: (541) 346-2790
Eugene, OR  97403-1289                 E-Mail:
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[end forward]
/ Anitra L. Freeman /
"Never doubt that a small group of imperfect people can improve the
world--indeed they are the only ones who ever have." not Margaret Mead