Fostering Autonomy: A Theory of Citizenship, the State, and Social Service Delivery

Paperback | May 31, 2012

byElizabeth Ben-Ishai

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In Fostering Autonomy, Elizabeth Ben-Ishai explores the role of the state in fostering autonomy in vulnerable citizens—such as people who are addicted to drugs, domestic violence survivors, welfare recipients, and undocumented immigrants—through social service delivery. Building on a feminist conception of “relational” autonomy, the book draws on empirical examples of service delivery to generate a rich theoretical account of the autonomy-fostering state.

Ben-Ishai's analysis focuses on four case studies. The first two cases, on “New Paternalist” programs and welfare policies for immigrants, present examples of programs and policies that fail to foster autonomy. This is in part because they are premised upon flawed notions of the autonomous individual and its relationship to the state. The second two cases, on services for domestic violence survivors and harm-reduction services for people who use drugs, turn the preceding autonomy-fostering failures on their head, pointing to unique instances of services that effectively enable autonomy. These cases demonstrate the ways government services shape citizens’ abilities to live autonomously—“to pursue their own ends or life plans.”

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From the Publisher

In Fostering Autonomy, Elizabeth Ben-Ishai explores the role of the state in fostering autonomy in vulnerable citizens—such as people who are addicted to drugs, domestic violence survivors, welfare recipients, and undocumented immigrants—through social service delivery. Building on a feminist conception of “relational” autonomy, the bo...

Elizabeth Ben-Ishai is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Albion College.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.48 inPublished:May 31, 2012Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:027105218X

ISBN - 13:9780271052182

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

1 Introduction

2 Toward a Revised Conception of Social Citizenship: An Autonomy-Focused Model

3 The New Paternalism: Rethinking State Intervention and Autonomy

4 Taking Responsibility: PRWORA’s Limits to Immigrant Access

5 “Coordinated Fragmentation” and Domestic Violence Services

6 Embodied Recognition, Ascriptive Autonomy, and Harm Reduction

7 Conclusion

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“The most striking thing about Elizabeth Ben-Ishai’s book is the way she skillfully moves between the conceptual and the concrete, using theory to reflect upon the implications of public policy and using studies of public policy implementation to build and rebuild theory. In doing this, Fostering Autonomy brings together two concerns that have long occupied feminist and democratic theorists: autonomy and the role of the state. . . . [Ben-Ishai’s] attention to the lived experience of individuals as they engage with the state is a wonderful example of practical political theorizing that has the potential to expand and enrich democratic politics for us all.”—Elizabeth K. Markovits, Perspectives on Politics