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Conversations in Conflict Studies presents Gretchen Purser and Brian Hennigan

402 Maxwell Hall- The Social Science Conference Room

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"Work as unto the Lord:” Enhancing Employability in an Evangelical Job-Readiness Program.  Gretchen Purser, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Brian Hennigan, Ph.D. candidate in Geography.
Description: The 1996 passage of welfare reform radically reshaped the principles and practices of poverty management in the US. On the one hand, it brought about an end to welfare as an entitlement and imposed rigid time limits, work requirements, and a programmatic supply-sided focus on “job-readiness.” On the other hand, it permitted and promoted the expansion of faith-based organizations in the provision of social services. This talk, situated at the underexplored nexus of these two trends, draws upon our collaborative ethnographic case study of a prominent faith-based job-readiness program. This program uses Biblical principles and teachings to expound on the moral irreproachability of work and to fabricate “employable” subjects who submit themselves to both God and the employer. At play is a project that we call the “righteous responsibilization” of the poor. We use this case to extend existing accounts of the impact and implications of religious neoliberalism. Pizza will be served. 

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