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Self‐Sufficiency, Ecology of Work, and Welfare Reform

University of LouisvilleUniversity of Louisville

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act specifies self‐sufficiency as the goal of welfare reform. This article identifies the philosophical and historical foundations for the concept of self‐sufficiency, and it identifies ways that the concept needs to be both clarified and made more richly operational through a perspective of the ecology of work. This approach highlights limitations of the contemporary use of the concept of self‐sufficiency and places the term more realistically in a social and cultural analytical framework that takes into account the perspective of people whose lives are affected by social policy.