Motherhood, Poverty, and the WIC Program in Urban America

Motherhood, Poverty, and the WIC Program in Urban America : Life Strategies

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This urban ethnography examines the relationship between urban residence and endemic poverty and health inequalities, particularly racial disparities in infant mortality in the United States. Starting from the everyday lives of women struggling to make ends meet, it represents an institutional ethnography of the WIC Program that identifies and explores how bureaucratic rigidity and hierarchy relate to personal decision-making in a context of pregnancy, parenting, and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 294 pages
  • 157 x 238 x 27mm | 590g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 7 Tables, unspecified; 4 Maps; 9 Halftones, black and white; 34 Illustrations, black and white
  • 0739189336
  • 9780739189337

Review quote

In this self-proclaimed 'classic ethnographic case study in urban anthropology,' anthropologist Morrissey examines how low-income minority women make use of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). By interviewing women involved in the program in Syracuse, New York, she attempts to understand why some women at high risk for poor birth outcomes, which she defines as premature births and low-birth-weight births, used the program and others did not. Morrissey provides thorough histories of both Syracuse and WIC and a useful explanation of the program's structures and functions. Her qualitative study examines some of the barriers to participation in the WIC program, which include inconvenient hours, long waits for appointments, and the need for transportation, among many others. There is a thinly veiled attack on the allegedly unfriendly and complicated culture of the WIC bureaucracy and a biased rant that racism and negative stereotypes about people in poverty underlie participants' unwillingness to make full use of the program... Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. CHOICE Dr. Morrissey has crafted a provocative, comprehensive case study of one of the largest maternal and child health programs in the United States. With a keen anthropological eye, Dr. Morrissey brings us inside bleak urban poverty, into the maze of a complex set of public services, and shows us how women and families living in such circumstances navigate the system, continually trying to meet their needs. Insightful and real, this ethnography gives us a glimpse into the lives around which so much effort in public health is organized. -- Timothy De Ver Dye, University of Rochestershow more

About Suzanne Morrissey

Suzanne Morrissey is associate professor of anthropology and interdisciplinary studies and director of gender studies at Whitman more

Table of contents

Introduction Chapter 1. Sick Cities: Poverty and Infant Mortality in Central New York Chapter 2. Imperatives and Impacts of the Federal WIC Program Chapter 3. What's the Problem?: Methodological Choices and Institutional Ethnography Chapter 4. Inside WIC: Bureaucracy, Barriers, and Provider Values Chapter 5. Strategizing Motherhood and Seeking Health in Urban America Chapter 6. Metaphorical Thought and the Construction of WIC Frames of Reference Chapter 7. Hidden Rationalities Appendixes A-Oshow more