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The Agency of Welfare Workers: Negotiating Devolution, Privatization, and the Meaning of Self-Sufficiency
Vol. 103, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 747-761
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/683611
Page Count: 15
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Public assistance programs, Welfare reform, Electronics benefit transfer, Caseloads, Public assistance, Social welfare, Employment, Entitlement programs, Cash, Child care
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In this article I examine how the neoliberal agenda of downsizing the state and minimizing its role in regulating the market has shaped welfare policy and the work of welfare provision. Using a study of welfare reform in Oregon, I explore how the enactment of welfare-to-work policies positions workers to negotiate the ideological terrain of welfare reform and the conflicts that privatization and devolution generate in a social welfare context. Self-sufficiency, the professed goal of welfare-to-work programs, is a complex concept, saturated with ideological meaning. Examination of the work of welfare provision provides an opportunity to analyze how workers give meaning to self-sufficiency and construct their work as positive for the families they serve. However, high caseloads, unrealistic agency expectations, and conflicting mandates bear down hard on workers, creating disenchantment with agency policy and undermining workers' ability to meet clients' needs.
American Anthropologist © 2001 American Anthropological Association