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How It WorksRecovering Citizens in Post-Welfare Philadelphia$
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Robert P. Fairbanks

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226234083

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226234113.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021



(p.261) Conclusion
How It Works

Robert P. Fairbanks

University of Chicago Press

Contrary to the claims of many policy scholars, the Kensington recovery house movement hardly shows an absence of civil society, good citizenship, and morality in poor neighborhoods. In conclusion, this book reveals that the contemporary state not only acquiesces to but effectively fosters, constitutes, and deepens its reliance on the Kensington recovery house as a highly localized and informal poverty management system. The book mobilizes three primary claims concerning the variegated functions of Kensington recovery houses. First, it illustrates how the recovery house operates as an elaborate street-level self-help mechanism of governmentality as operators and clients alike work toward the salvation and transformation of impoverished subjects. The second claim concerning the variegated functions of Kensington recovery houses reveals the recovery house movement as a decidedly political movement, driven by a particular vision of emancipation and by the deliberate efforts of informal operators to reappropriate segments of Philadelphia's welfare apparatus. Third, the book claims that the recovery house movement is at once an informal collective poverty survival mechanism, a mode of predatory subsistence, and a new mechanism of urban enclosure. It concludes with a thought exercise that asks whether, in the classic Philadelphia style of charming incompetence and chronic low self-esteem, the city is more “global” than even its beleaguered politicians are aware of.

Keywords:   recovery houses, Kensington, poverty management, political movement, Philadelphia

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