The Welfare System: Interaction Between Officials and Clients

Ida Susser

in Norman Street

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780195367317
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199951192 | DOI:
The Welfare System: Interaction Between Officials and Clients

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  • Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility


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Welfare assistance reflects a crucial aspect of low-income life: interaction with government institutions. Attitudes and roles fostered by the public assistance program indicate the constraining influence of state bureaucracies, upon which low-income people are commonly dependent. The description presented here of relations between clients and officials and of pressures on each side also stands as a general picture of experiences of low-income people in the United States. Greenpoint–Williamsburg economic life reflected that of the nation from 1975 to 1977. Just as high unemployment, military enlistment, and the CETA program were nationwide phenomena, so was the welfare program. Since reliance on welfare assistance was a more constant factor it the structuring of most low-income households than any particular job situation, it is important to discuss the process and its influences in some detail. This chapter outlines the procedures which an applicant had to follow in order to enroll for public assistance. The focus is primarily on interaction between client and welfare officer, and the officers' perceptions of their role in the welfare bureaucracy are analyzed.

Keywords: welfare assistance; low-income life; government institutions; public assistance program; Greenpoint–Williamsburg; economic life; welfare officers; state bureaucracy

Chapter.  3004 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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