Political promises for welfare reform

Elizabeth Segal, Keith M. Kilty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Public debate by policymakers prior to the passage of the PRWORA reflected a common set of attitudes and beliefs of those in power about public assistance and the poor. The power of their language to shape and inform policy is significant in our society. Those who hold power use language to mold and rationalize public policies. From a critical theory perspective, examination of the use of language by those in power to set norms, disempower, and marginalize those people who are nondominant is vital to effect social change. This research critically examines the speeches given on the floor of the House of Representatives prior to the final vote of PRWORA on July 31, 1996, to identify the power of language. Findings reveal that the content of the speeches reflects maintenance of the status quo and continued marginalization of the poor, particularly women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Poverty
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Critical discourse analysis
  • Marginalization
  • Political discourse
  • Power
  • Welfare reform
  • Women and public assistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Sociology and Political Science


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