The spatial politics of public policy: Devolution, development, and welfare reform

Ann R. Tickamyer, Julie Anne White, Barry L. Tadlock, Debra A. Henderson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


At the end of the last century, the U.S. embarked on a large-scale social experiment to restructure the welfare system. The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) by the U.S. Congress in 1996 marked an enormous shift in the institutional arrangements of social welfare policy, affecting the form and structure of the safety net, the relative power and autonomy of different political units, and of course, the fortunes of individuals, families, and communities who were the focus. Although the full meaning and impact of welfare reform is still unfolding, this massive restructuring of public policy provides social scientists, policy analysts, and policymakers with a rare opportunity to research the effects of this social experiment and its policy outcomes and implications. One particularly important component is relatively little scrutinized or understood-the role of spatial inequalities and their influence on public policy. In particular, the story of welfare reform is partly about its variable capacity to accomplish its goals across place and space. Its advent permits researchers to scrutinize the capacity for welfare reform in different geopolitical units across space and the construction of new forms of difference and inequality. Most importantly, it permits an assessment of an increasingly popular political theory underlying the decision to overhaul this safety net.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSociology of Spatial Inequality, The
PublisherState University of New York Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780791471074
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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