Carework Strategies and Everyday Resistance Among Mothers Who Have Timed-Out of Welfare

Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins

ISBN: 978-1-78756-400-8, eISBN: 978-1-78756-399-5

ISSN: 1529-2126

Publication date: 15 November 2018


The Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act of 1996, better known as Welfare Reform, implemented, in addition to many other features, a 60-month lifetime limit for welfare receipt. Research to date primarily documents individual-level barriers, characteristics, and outcomes of those who time out. Very little scholarly work considers experiences of mothering or carework after timing out. In this chapter, I ask, what kinds of carework strategies are used by women who have met their lifetime limits to welfare? What do the ways mothers talk about these strategies tell us about the discursive forces they are resisting and/or engaging? Using in-depth interviews at two points in time with women who have timed out of welfare (n = 32 and 23), this analysis shows how mothers’ strategies and the ways they discuss them reveal covert material and symbolic resistance to key discourses – negative assumptions about welfare mothers and a culture of work enforcement – and the conditions shaping their lives (Hollander & Einwohner, 2004). Mothers use carework strategies very similar to those identified in many other studies (e.g., London, Scott, Edin, & Hunter, 2004; Morgen, Acker, & Weigt, 2010; Scott, Edin, London, & Mazelis, 2001), but they provide us with an understanding of carework in a new context. The three groups of strategies explored here – structuring employment and non-employment, protecting children, and securing resources – reveal raced, classed, and gendered labor in which women engage to care for children in circumstances marked by limited employment opportunities and limited state support. The policy implications of mothers’ strategies are also discussed.



Weigt, J. (2018), "Carework Strategies and Everyday Resistance Among Mothers Who Have Timed-Out of Welfare", Taylor, T. and Bloch, K. (Ed.) Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 195-212.

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