First Advisor

Julius McGee

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science and University Honors


Political Science


United States. Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Program), Public welfare -- Political aspects -- United States, Welfare recipients -- Public opinion, Racism in social services, Public welfare, Capitalism -- United States -- History




The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, or PRWORA, is a major act of US welfare legislation that was signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Under the program it authorized, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, welfare recipients can only receive benefits for up to 60 months lifetime and must maintain full time employment as soon as required by welfare administrators. As a result, welfare enrollment and the quantity of benefits distributed have decreased significantly since PRWORA was passed. The implementation of a welfare work requirement was a key goal of an anti-welfare policy position that became highly influential in both major American political parties through the 1980s and 1990s. The success of this position came about at least in part because of racialized and derogatory images of welfare recipients advanced by politicians and the media. This suggests particular connections between class, race and the state that are central to the theories of racial capitalism and expropriation advanced by Cedric Robinson and Nancy Fraser. Their theoretical outlook indicates that PRWORA's main effect was to produce a large expropriable labor class whose existence is justified through the racial images latent in welfare reform rhetoric.


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