Unjust Conditions follows the lives and labors of poor mothers in rural Peru, richly documenting the ordeals they face to participate in mainstream poverty alleviation programs. Championed by behavioral economists and the World Bank, conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs are praised as efficient mechanisms for changing poor people’s behavior. While rooted in good intentions and dripping with the rhetoric of social inclusion, CCT programs’ successes ring hollow, based solely on metrics for children’s attendance at school and health appointments. Looking beyond these statistics reveals a host of hidden costs for the mothers who meet the conditions. With a poignant voice and keen focus on ethnographic research, Tara Patricia Cookson turns the reader’s gaze to women’s care work in landscapes of grossly inadequate state investment, cleverly drawing out the tensions between social inclusion and conditionality.
“Unjust Conditions poses compelling questions about identity, power, wealth, and justice and challenges us to take the time to listen and to identify possibilities for meaningful change.” MARTHA CHOE, former Chief Administrative Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“A must-read for scholars, activists and policymakers committed to combating poverty and gender asymmetries.” LENA LAVINAS, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
“This is an outstanding book—a stunning indictment of expert schemes that overlook lived realities in order to conjure the appearance of success. Lucid, incisive, and compelling— bravo!” TANIA MURRAY LI, University of Toronto
Cookson, T. 2018. Unjust Conditions: Women’s Work and the Hidden Cost of Cash Transfer Programs. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.49
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