From the Physical to the Fiscal: Monetizing the Poor

Mark Covaleski, Mark Dirsmith, Sajay Samuel, Jane Weiss


One effect of the deteriorating fiscal condition of governments is the effort to “reform” the “welfare state.” Often expressed using the rubrics of the New Public Management (NPM) and Public/Private Partnerships (PPP), a significant component of this effort is harmonious with a neo-liberal ideology incorporating commercial business practices into public sector organizations, which has been allied with the financialization of government, the capitation of welfare recipients and asset-based welfare. We examine the transformation of public entities into quasi-commercial ones by first contextualizing the rise of NPM, PPP, financialization, capitation and asset-based welfare within the historical evolution of incorporating business practices into government. And second, we examine the processes by which the State of Wisconsin replaced the forty year old AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) program with a new W-2 (Welfare Works) welfare reform program. Finally, we explore implications.

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Public Administration Research  ISSN 1927-517X  (Print)  ISSN 1927-5188  (Online)  Email:

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