Sociology ETDs

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This study investigates the use of coded racism in the evolution of fertility control policies from the 1920s to the 1990s. I propose a theory of welfare eugenics that explains stigmatization of the fertility of poor, racial and ethnic minorities through a re-articulation of overtly racist language in terms of cultural symbols, stereotypes, and labels referred to as coded racism. I conduct a discourse analysis of scientific papers presented at the Third International Congress of Eugenics in 1932, and witness testimony from congressional hearings held in the 1920s, 1965 — 1966, and 1995 — 1996 for evidence of eugenic ideology in public discourse about poverty, social welfare, and federal family planning policy. Results from a discourse analysis of the data partially supported a theory of welfare eugenics. The concept of welfare dependency emerged as the primary target of elite political discourse in the 1990s. Welfare dependency is presumed to be a failure of subordinate group members to fully assimilate dominant group traditional values about work ethic, meritocracy, morality, and family creation. These findings lead to a revision of my original theoretical perspective under a new conceptual framework for assimilation eugenics. A theory of assimilation eugenics explains discourse about the termination of the social welfare state as primarily an institutional stigmatization of the entire social welfare system to end the social and cultural reproduction of welfare dependency at the interpersonal level. Findings from this study will be used to advance understanding of how powerful elites adapt subtle forms of racist speech to set an agenda that reproduces structural forms of inequality in social and public policy.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Lopez, Nancy

Second Committee Member

Waitzkin, Howard

Third Committee Member

Gonzales, Felipe

Fourth Committee Member

Parker, Tassy

Project Sponsors

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico


eugenic ideology, coded racism, fertility control, assimilation eugenics, family planning policy, welfare dependency, eugenics



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