Dangerous dependencies - The intersection of welfare reform and domestic violence

Ellen K. Scott, Andrew S. London, Nancy A. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Using longitudinal, ethnographic data, the authors examine how the pursuit of self-sufficiency in the context of welfare reform may unintentionally encourage some women to develop alternative dangerous dependencies on abusive or potentially abusive men. In this article, the authors document how women ended up relying on men who have been abusive to them either for instrumental assistance or for more direct financial assistance as they struggled to move from welfare to work. The authors also document how some extremely disadvantaged and vulnerable women became enmeshed in even more dangerous dependencies as they hit time limits and fell through public and private safety nets into drug addiction and sex work. The authors frame this discussion of dangerous dependencies with the recognition that dependency relations are necessary and inevitable components of carework. They argue that the discourse of self-sufficiency should acknowledge the fact that careworkers are productive citizens to the same extent as paid laborers and grapple with the question of the means through which they can support that productivity when personal resources are limited and paid labor is temporarily or permanently impossible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-897
Number of pages20
JournalGender and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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