Designating dependency: the "socially inadequate" in the United States, 1910-1940

Seal, Lizzie (2013) Designating dependency: the "socially inadequate" in the United States, 1910-1940. Journal of Historical Sociology, 26 (2). pp. 143-168. ISSN 0952-1909

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This article examines the use of “socially inadequate” as a label for the dependent poor in the United States, 1910–40. It analyses the dense meanings that were given to this term and the political significance that the label “socially inadequate” gained in relation to sterilization and immigration policy. The article explores the role played by eugenicist, Harry Laughlin, as a label maker for the term and a moral entrepreneur in relation to the problem of dependency. It argues that “socially inadequate” was a stigmatising designation for members of perceived deficient groups, whom were seen as falling below the normal or acceptable standards of society and were, as such, viewed as undeserving of the status of citizen. Finally, it contends that the negative moral and emotional judgments encoded into definitions of the “socially inadequate” can be situated within the history of the derogation of dependency, understood as economic reliance on the state or charity, in the United States

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
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Depositing User: Lizzie Seal
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2013 15:00
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2013 14:12
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