Overthrowing the Queen

Telling Stories of Welfare in America

by Tom Mould

Published by: Indiana University Press

384 pages, 6.12 x 9.25 in, 22 color, 18 graph., 5 tab.

  • Paperback
  • 9780253048035
  • Published: August 2020


  • eBook
  • 9780253048059
  • Published: August 2020


  • Hardcover
  • 9780253048028
  • Published: August 2020


In 1976, Ronald Reagan hit the campaign trail with an extraordinary account of a woman committing massive welfare fraud. The story caught fire and a devastating symbol of the misuse government programs was born: the Welfare Queen. Overthrowing the Queen examines these legends of fraud and abuse while bringing to light personal stories of hardship and hope told by cashiers, bus drivers, and business owners; politicians and aid providers; and, most important, aid recipients themselves. Together these stories reveal how the seemingly innocent act of storytelling can create not only powerful stereotypes that shape public policy, but also redemptive counter-narratives that offer hope of a more accurate, fair, and empathetic view of poverty in America today. Overthrowing the Queen tackles perceptions of welfare recipients while proposing new approaches to the study of oral narrative that extend far beyond the study of welfare, poverty, and social justice.