Interview with Mimi Abramovitz, DSW, Hunter College, City University of New York

  • Jillian Jimenez Reflections

Abstract

In August, 2004, I sat down with Mimi Abramovitz, DSW, at the Policy Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, where she had delivered the keynote address. My interview with her covered a wide range of themes, beginning with the childhood influences that helped form her commitment to social justice which has guided her career as an activist, academic, and researcher. My first introduction to Professor Abramovitz was through the seminal article published in Social Work in 1983, "Everyone's on Welfare: The Role of Redistribution in Social Policy." Her insights were revelatory for a beginning social policy teacher and profoundly influenced a generation of academics and activists. Her analysis was updated in 2001 and appeared in Social Work as "Everyone is Still on Welfare." In between these articles, Professor Abramovitz developed powerful and nuanced analyses of the impact of the welfare state on women in two books: Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy from Colonial Times to the Present published in 1996, and Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare in the United States, published in 2000. She has published many other articles analyzing the family ethic in welfare policy. She is a national leader in the debate over welfare reform and the relationship between gender and poverty. In examining the welfare state through a gender lens, Mimi Abramovitz has made a significant contribution not only to social work, but also to women's studies, social history and sociology. She continues to be active in welfare rights organizations in New York City, where she lives and teaches at Hunter College, CUNY. A hero of mine since I began teaching social policy, Mimi Abramovitz offered a moving and passionate account of a life spent committed to social activism.

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