Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 30, 2009
Sanford Schram, Joe Soss, Richard Fording, and Linda Houser recently posted their fascinating article, “Deciding to Discipline: Race, Choice, and Punishment on the Frontlines of Welfare Reform” (74 American Sociological Review 398-422 (June 2009) on SSRN. Here is the abstract.
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Welfare sanctions are financial penalties applied to individuals who fail to comply with welfare program rules. Their widespread use reflects a turn toward disciplinary approaches to poverty management. In this article, we investigate how implicit racial biases and discrediting social markers interact to shape officials’ decisions to impose sanctions. We present experimental evidence based on hypothetical vignettes that case managers are more likely to recommend sanctions for Latina and black clients – but not white clients – when discrediting markers are present. We triangulate these findings with analyses of state administrative data. Our results for Latinas are mixed, but we find consistent evidence that the probability of a sanction rises significantly when a discrediting marker (i.e., a prior sanction for noncompliance) is attached to a black rather than a white welfare client. Overall, our study clarifies how racial minorities, especially African Americans, are more likely to be punished for deviant behavior in the new world of disciplinary welfare provision.
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To download the paper for free, click here. To read a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Robin Hood Motives” and “Monkey Fairness.”
Posted in Abstracts, Choice Myth, Distribution, Ideology, Implicit Associations, Public Policy | Tagged: Implicit Associations, implicit racism, welfare | Leave a Comment »
Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 4, 2009
John Bronsteen, Christopher Buccafusco, and Jonathan Masur posted another interesting paper, “Welfare as Happiness,” on SSRN. Here’s the abstract.
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In the fields of law, economics, and philosophy, the leading conception of human welfare is preference-satisfaction — getting what one wants. An important rival is an objective list approach to ethics — possessing an enumerated set of capabilities. This Article argues against both major views and in favor of a third, defining welfare as subjective well-being — feeling good. We reject the leading approach on the ground that preferences are often mistaken or else involve goals independent of the individual’s own welfare. When sophisticated preference-satisfaction theories launder out such preferences, those accounts reduce to our happiness-based approach. We reject objective list theories on the ground that they impose objective criteria, whereas an individual’s well-being is a purely subjective concept. How good a person’s life is for her cannot be judged by how well she satisfies someone else’s standards of virtue or flourishing. By contrast with these theories, our hedonic approach captures the ordinary understanding of what it means for someone to have well-being, and it stands up better to analytical challenges than do its rivals. As a result, we advocate that administrative agencies replace cost-benefit analysis (the tool of the preference-based approach) with well-being analysis. Groundbreaking new research in hedonic psychology makes this possible, and we discuss how it can be accomplished.
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You can download the paper for free here. For more Situationist posts about some of those authors’ previous work, see “Happiness and Punishment – Abstract,” and “The Situation of Civil Settlements – Abstract.” To read other releated Situationist posts, see “Something to Smile About,” “Happiness Rankings by Country,” “Miscalculating Welfare – Abstract,” and “Situating Emotion.”
Posted in Abstracts, Emotions, Legal Theory, Positive Psychology | Tagged: Happiness, hedonic psychology, Positive Psychology, preference-satisfaction, preferences, welfare | Leave a Comment »