John Horton, Linda Shaw, and Manuel H. Moreno




Sanctions as Everyday Resistance to Welfare Reform

The authors show that the working poor and immigrants are among the most likely to be sanctioned for noncompliance in the Los Angeles County GAIN (Greater Avenues of Independence) welfare-to-work program. The program is significant since only the total welfare caseloads in the states of California and New York exceed those of Los Angeles County. In an overall strategy of survival among the poor, GAIN represents a fallback means of support. The largely unskilled workers in the paid labor market who are compelled to seek such aid resist welfare reform measures whenever program requirements make their struggle for a better life more difficult. Unlike the welfare rights movements of the 1960s that led to progressive changes, today collective patterns of everyday resistance are individual and personal. The authors argue that all current welfare reform measures should aim toward the development of a national strategy to reduce and eliminate poverty as a constitutional right.

GAIN, welfare reform, sanctions

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 35, No. 4 (2008): 83-98