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date: 17 April 2024

Welfare Rights Movement. 

The Oxford Encyclopedia Women in World History
Premilla NadasenPremilla Nadasen

The welfare rights movement was a social movement by recipients of public aid to ensure the right to adequate state assistance. In the 1960s—in the midst of economic prosperity, a “rediscovery” of poverty, and expanding welfare states—welfare rights movements emerged in key industrialized nations, such as Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. These movements encompassed a broad constituency, including the elderly, single mothers, children, the unemployed, and the disabled. Welfare recipients organized, often with the help of social workers, lawyers, and middle‐class reformers, to protect their civil rights, increase their standard of living, and lobby for reforms in the system. Much of their effort centered on advocating on behalf of individual clients in their conflicts with the welfare department and educating recipients about their rights. Welfare rights organizations published pamphlets and handbooks informing recipients of their entitlements, and they provided legal assistance in claiming those rights. Some organizations also engaged in confrontational, direct‐action tactics. The ultimate goal of welfare rights movements was to ensure welfare as a right rather than a form of public charity by shifting the focus away from the moral character of recipients and toward their economic needs. The demonstrations, the day‐to‐day advocacy, the appeals and tribunal processes, and the legal battles waged through the judicial system were all designed to ensure that those in need would have the right to state economic assistance.... ...

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