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Motherhood, Poverty, and the WIC Program in Urban America


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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-O

About the Author

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


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.... 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 Rochester

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