Manufacturing Identities, Producing Poverty: Criminalizing Poor Women Through Welfare Fraud
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This dissertation makes crucial connections between poverty, welfare, race, and the penal system. There are several aspects to consider. The first is that women are made poor by inequitable governmental policies, practices, and relations. The second element is when they need help and seek assistance from the government, welfare does not pay enough to live on. Consequently, they are forced to break a welfare rule, in order to survive and keep their children alive. However, breaking a welfare rule can result in one or more felony counts, including perjury and welfare fraud. The third factor is that poor women and welfare moms are manufactured as criminal subjects through the media, welfare policies, and the public court documents amassed against women convicted of welfare fraud. After examining thirteen court case files of women convicted for welfare fraud in King County, Washington through a discourse analysis perspective, it was apparent that the welfare subject and the criminal subject were one and the same.