Citizens and Paupers: Relief, Rights, and Race, from the Freedmen’s Bureau to Workfare


  • Outstanding Book Award, Theory Division, Society for the Study of Social Problems, 2010
  • Honorable Mention, Barrington Moore Book Award, Comparative and Historical Sociology Section, American Sociological Association, 2010

Citizens and Paupers examines social spending policies as sites of contention about citizenship rights during three critical junctures in American political development. The book rests on original archival research and engages with scholarship by historians and political scientists as well as sociologists. By means of comparisons across policies and over time, the book shows that policymakers sometimes treated civil and political rights as an alternative to social rights rather than a foundation for them. In this way, it reorients the sociology of the welfare state from levels of social spending, class abatement, or decommodification to varying configurations of civil, political, and social rights for different groups of welfare-state claimants.

“Goldberg’s impressive and original book offers a fresh perspective on U.S. social policy, demonstrating both historical depth and theoretical sophistication.”

Edwin Amenta, New York University

Frances Fox Piven, CUNY Graduate Center

“Chad Goldberg directs our attention to aspects of American political culture that help explain the cramped and punitive features of our social policies. He has written an informed and judicious book that is an important contribution to the literature on the American welfare state.

Robert C. Lieberman, Columbia University

“In this outstanding book, Chad Goldberg incisively recasts the history of the American welfare state as a series of struggles over the terms of citizenship. Through a succession of carefully researched and artfully drawn historical case studies spanning a century and a half, Goldberg demonstrates that conflict over the citizenship status of welfare beneficiaries played a major role in the fundamental battles about race, class, and gender that shaped the nation.

Jill Quadagno, Florida State University

“Chad Goldberg challenges the conventional argument that the modern welfare state represented a break with the historical tradition of means-tested benefits for the poor. Instead he demonstrates conclusively that the transition was not nearly as neat as often depicted and that the legacy of the poor laws remained embedded in social programs in subsequent decades. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, this rich and complex book tackles fundamental debates regarding the meaning of democratic rights and the definition of citizenship.”