Through a sweeping analytical narrative, from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of today, Caring for America shows how law and social policy shaped home care into a low-wage job, stigmatized as part of public welfare, primarily funded through Medicaid, and relegated to the bottom of the medical hierarchy. Care work became a job for African American and immigrant women that kept them in poverty, while providing independence from institutionalization for needy elderly and disabled people. But while the state organized home care, it did not do so without eliciting contestation and confrontation from the citizens themselves who gave and received it. Authors Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein trace the intertwined, sometimes conflicting search of care providers and receivers for dignity, self-determination, security, and personal and social worth. This book highlights social movements of senior citizens for disability rights and independent living, the civil rights organizing of women on welfare and domestic workers, the battles of public sector unions, and the unionization of health and service workers.
It rethinks the history of the American welfare state from the perspective of care work, all the while re-examining the strategies of the U.S. labor movement in terms of a growing care work economy. An unprecedented study, Caring for America serves as a definitive historical account of how public policy has impacted major modern movements and trends in class, race, and gender politics in the United States.