Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race. By Joe Soss, Richard C. Fording, and Sanford F. Schram. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. 368p. $75.00 cloth, $25.00 paper.
It is more than 15 years since the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was passed in 1996, famously described by then-President Bill Clinton as “the end of welfare as we know it.” In Disciplining the Poor, Joe Soss, Richard Fording, and Sanford Schram analyze recent changes in US welfare policy as reflections of broader transformations of the “governance” of poverty, arguing that these transformations represent a new form of “neoliberal paternalism” in which race continues to be an important element. In this symposium, a diverse group of political scientists working on welfare issues have been asked to critically assess the book's account and to comment more broadly on the importance of the “governance of poverty” to the future of American politics.—Jeffrey C. Isaac, Editor