social safety nets

The first federal social safety net program in the United States was social security, which was created in 1935 through the Social Security Act signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, as millions Americans suffered from homelessness, hungry and job loss as a result of the Wall St. bank crash in 1929, resulting in the Great Depression. The purpose of the Social Security Act was to provide for the poor widowed mother and the disabled, the unemployed and the elderly, and to provide “some measure of protection, to the average citizen and his family.”

Learn more about social safety nets in the US:

How the social safety net got it’s name

The Safety Net is Good Economic Policy

Major Federal Safety Net Programs in the US

Social Justice

"Social justice" owes its origin as a distinct concept (giustizia sociale) to the Italian Risorgimento of the nineteenth century. It was first used, by the Jesuit philosopher Luigi Taparelli d'Azeglio in 1843. It is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society, measured by the explicit and implicit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges. The concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. In modern global grassroots movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets and economic justice, especially for marginalized communities previously left out of decision making and creation of systems that govern their lives in public society.

The Origins of Social Justice: Taparelli d’Azeglio

Social Justice: History, Purpose and Meaning

Social Movements and Progressivism

third world country

Coined by French demographer Alfred Sauvy in the 1950s, "third world" refers to economically underdeveloped countries. Sauvy was making an analogy between pre-industrial nations with the poor of pre-Revolutionary France, who were considered part of the "third estate." The term was originally created as part of the political and economic re-alignment after World War II, and the creation of multi-lateral groups such as NATO, which included only highly industrialized countries with democratic forms of government and were the “first world”, with less industrialized countries with Socialist and Communist forms of government considered to be “second world or second estate” countries, and all other countries “third world” or even “fourth world” (the term “fourth world” referred to Indigenous people who lived in nation-states after post colonial man-made borders). Over the years the term has fallen out of favor primarily because of political changes. In the mid 1990’s the term was largely put out of academic usage for terms such as “developed country”, “developing country” and “under-developed country” to define a country’s stage of economic development. While these are the most common terms used today, there are other terms gaining favor, including LIC and LMIC (Low Income Country and Low-Moderate Income Country) that describe a county based on gross domestic product.

Read more about the conversation regarding this terminology:

If You Shouldn’t Call it The Third World, What Should You Call It

What Is The Definition of a Third World Country

First, Second and Third World: Worlds Within the World

What Does It Mean When A Country is Developed or Still Developing?


The word poor, is derived from the Latin term pauper and the old French term povre and later the modern French term pauvre. The original Latin referred to “little” or “getting little”, and later took on the meaning of “inferior quality”. It wasn’t until the 1600’s that the English use of the word took on the meaning of a “poor person”.

Poor vs. Low Income: Does it matter which word we use?

Etymology of the word poor

welfare queen

The term “welfare queen” is a derogatory term used in the United States to refer to women who allegedly misuse or collect excessive welfare payments through fraud, child endangerment, or manipulation. Reporting on welfare fraud began during the early 1960s, appearing in general-interest magazines. The term "welfare queen" originates from media reporting in 1974 and the story of Linda

Taylor in Chicago.

Since then, the phrase "welfare queen" has remained a stigmatizing label and is most often directed toward black, single mothers. Although women in the U.S. could no longer stay on welfare indefinitely after the federal government launched the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 1996,] the term remains a trope in the American dialogue on poverty

The idea of welfare fraud goes back to the early-1960s, when the majority of known offenders were male. Despite this, many journalistic exposés were published at the time on those who would come to be known as welfare queens. Readers Digest and Look magazine published sensational stories about mothers gaming the system. Additionally, Ronald Reagan employed the trope of the "Welfare Queen" in order to rally support for reform of the welfare system. During his initial bid for the Republican nomination in 1976, and again in 1980, Reagan constantly made reference to the "Welfare Queen" at his campaign rallies and the term was seared into the public lexicon.

Read more about the history of the term ‘welfare queen’ and the story of Linda Taylor

The Truth Behind the Lies of The Original Welfare Queen

The Rise and Reign of the Welfare Queen

The Myth of the Welfare Queen

The Myth of the Welfare Queen Endures, and Children Pay the Price

She Used 80 Names: The Real Story of Linda Taylor, America’s Original Welfare Queen

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