"So You Think I Drive a Cadillac?" Welfare Recipients' Perspectives on the System and Its Reform / Edition 3

by Karen Seccombe
     
 

ISBN-10: 0205792162

ISBN-13: 9780205792160

Pub. Date: 02/19/2010

Publisher: Pearson

This down-to-earth look at the welfare system provides readers with stories from welfare recipients themselves and from those who recently left welfare for work: how they got onto welfare, what the reality of welfare (and welfare reform) is for them, issues in raising their families, their plans, hopes, and dreams are for the future, and some of the

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Overview

This down-to-earth look at the welfare system provides readers with stories from welfare recipients themselves and from those who recently left welfare for work: how they got onto welfare, what the reality of welfare (and welfare reform) is for them, issues in raising their families, their plans, hopes, and dreams are for the future, and some of the struggles they face as they try to leave the welfare system.

Welfare recipients who were interviewed by the author in Florida and Oregon share their perspectives on work requirements, family caps, time limits, and other features of the new welfare reform (TANF) program. They discuss the importance of a livable wage and health insurance in providing the needed security to leave welfare for good. These qualitative interviews are theoretically grounded, and supplemented with up-to-date statewide and national data on welfare reform and its consequences.

The author says, “Underneath the political rhetoric and welfare statistics are real live human beings who are trying to make sense out of their lives.” Their voices provide a crucial counterpoint to the politicians and policy “experts” who have shaped the policy reform initiative. They show us that the so-called welfare problem is related to the insecurity of low-tier work in the United States.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780205792160
Publisher:
Pearson
Publication date:
02/19/2010
Series:
MySearchLab Series for Social Work Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 Introduction: Putting a Face on Welfare 1

Critical and Feminist Frameworks 6

Specific Contributions of This Study of Lived Experience 8

Welfare and Public Policy 10

Where Are the Voices of Welfare Recipients in the Discussion? 14

A National Profile of Welfare Recipients 15

Who Are the Participants in This Study? 20

Conclusion and Organization 23

Critical Thinking Questions 26

2 Historical and Persisting Dilemmas: How Do We Explain Poverty, What Should We Do about It? 27

History of Cash Assistance 28

Welfare Reform: "Ending Welfare As We Know It" 36

Explanations of Poverty and Welfare Use 39

Individualism 40

Social Structuralism 42

Culture of Poverty 44

Fatalism 45

Critical Thinking Questions 46

3 Stigma and Discrimination 47

Awareness of Societal Attitudes Toward Welfare Recipients 49

Racism and Welfare 51

Contexts Where Stigma and Discrimination Occur 55

Managing Stigma 58

Denial 58

Distancing Themselves from Other Welfare Recipients 59

Blaming External Forces: "It's Not My Fault." 65

Extolling the Importance of Motherhood 66

Critical Thinking Questions 69

4 Why Welfare? 71

The Influence of Social Structure 74

Employment 74

The Risk of Losing Health Insurance 76

Childcare 78

Fathers' Involvement 81

Transportation 82

Racism and Sexism 84

The Welfare System Breeds "Dependence" on the System 85

Fatalism 86

Bad Luck 86

Poor Health 88

The Ending of Relationships 90

Violence 91

Why the Inconsistency Between Explanations of Their Own and Others' Use of Welfare? 93

Critical Thinking Questions 96

5 Day-to-Day Living and Decision Making 97

Daily Activities: Wild Living or Depressing Routine? 101

Making Ends Meet with "The Check" 102

Living and Surviving on Food Stamps 106

Juggling Bills 108

Coping with the Stress 110

Affording Life's "Luxuries" 112

Supplementing Welfare 115

Critical Thinking Questions 117

6 Living and Surviving Welfare: The Importance of Family, Friends, and Formal Support 118

Informal Support: Help from Families, Friends and Neighbors, and Children's Fathers 123

Assistance from Families 123

Assistance from Friends and Neighbors 127

Assistance from Children's Fathers 130

Formal Support: Help from Charities and Social Services 134

Working Side Jobs: Is This Fraud? 136

Critical Thinking Questions 139

7 Insider's Perspectives on the Welfare System 140

Florida WAGES: A Case Example 143

The Role of Government 145

Opinions of the Welfare System 147

Strengths of the Welfare System 148

Weaknesses of the Welfare System 150

Welfare Reforms 152

Time Limits 152

Work Requirements 155

Family Caps 158

Ideas for Reform 159

Improving the Welfare System 159

Improving the Structure of Low-Tier Work 161

Critical Thinking Questions 163

8 Getting Off Welfare 164

The Women in the Middle: Increasing Human Capital Is Only One Answer 169

Education and Employment Training 170

Work Experience 172

The Importance of Our Social Structure 174

Not Enough Jobs 175

Types of Jobs Available for Women on Welfare 176

The Value of Health Insurance 179

Why Some Women on Welfare Are Hesitant to Take Jobs 181

Critical Thinking Questions 185

9 Conclusion: Lessons Learned and Visions of Change 186

The Gendered Nature of Welfare and Welfare Reform 187

Has Welfare Reform Been a Success or a Failure? 192

The Reasons for Its Failure 193

Insights from Other Countries 195

Critical Thinking Questions 200

Appendix: Websites of Interest 201

References 206

Index 217

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