chapter  Chapter 3
45 Pages

The Historical Context: Development of Our Current Welfare System

ByRosemary Kennedy Chapin, Melinda Lewis

The Historical Context: Development of Our Current Welfare System begins with World War I and continues through the period following the 2018 mid-term election. This chapter is premised on the idea that history is not merely a prologue to the present. Rather, the ways in which historical social policy approaches are understood and reinterpreted directly and immediately affect the social policy decisions made. Chapter 3 contains an expanded discussion of the Civil Rights Movement and of income support strategies enacted since World War II. The changes that brought us retrenchment and devolution during the Reagan era are examined and connected to policy developments in the present time. This fifth edition has expanded discussion of the effects of the Great Recession, including how different populations were disproportionately impacted and how the lingering effects of the economic downturn are felt by different groups. Other major updates to this edition include analysis of the dynamics that contributed to Donald Trump’s 2016 election and the most consequential effects of his presidency, including the erosion of regulatory oversight, the rollback of essential civil rights protections, and the reshaping of the federal judiciary. Social workers are encouraged to focus their attention on these changes and the ways in which they are likely to continue to reverberate, with particular importance for people of color and others often marginalized in U.S. social policy. An effort has been made to avoid redundancies between this chapter and other chapters that address policy developments in specific fields of practice. For example, this chapter now includes only brief mention of judicial rulings that altered affirmative action, since Chapter 7 includes an extensive discussion of the evolution of affirmative action policies.