Sex panic, reform, social safety net, welfare state, public policy, public debate, moral panic


2006 marked the tenth anniversary of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The 1996 law was the culmination of decades of erosion in backing for basic provisions of the U.S. social safety net. The following reviews the political campaign that undermined thefoundationfor this vital component of the New Deal/Great Society income supports. A series of panics diminished approval for the welfare state, leading to the 1996 "reform." Panic discourse increasingly accompanies policy debate. Examples of anti welfare, anti outsider panic discourses are explored.

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