Who Deserves Help? Who Must Provide?

Linda Gordon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Human societies have always provided help for the needy, and this provision has frequently been calibrated according to notions of deservingness and obligation. These notions have been shaped by gendered double standards, including measures of sexual morality, personal demeanor, housekeeping, and self-sacrifice, that are applied to women but not to men. Most fundamental, the fact that women are the primary child raisers has given many of them, in modern societies, two jobs--working for wages and working without wages to raise children. The modern welfare system arose from campaigns to help mothers who try to perform these two jobs without male help. Focusing first on deserted women, then on widows, and more recently on never-married mothers, U.S. welfare policy in the twentieth century was self-defeating because it tried to provide for poor children while avoiding giving aid or encouragement to lone mothers.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)12-25
    Number of pages14
    JournalThe Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Sep 2001

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • General Social Sciences


    Dive into the research topics of 'Who Deserves Help? Who Must Provide?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this