A Better Way Four Interviews On The

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A Better Way: Four Interviews On The Welfare System Essay, Research Paper A Better Way: Four Interviews On The Welfare System Myths surrounding the issue of welfare in our country today are so prevalent that it is difficult for individuals to determine the exact source of their learned misconceptions. Whether it be through the media, family, peers or elsewhere, Americans become indoctrinated with the stereotype of the welfare recipient to a greater degree than any other I can pinpoint. From extensive discussions with others on the subject, as well as from personal experience in addition to the four interviews I did for this paper, I have come to realize that the media plays a huge role in people’s misconception of the reasons for welfare dependency and this misinformation

is never corrected by readings, such as we have had in this class, nor discussions with welfare recipients themselves. These popular misconceptions create a problem in and of themselves since they are, at least in part, the cause of the stigma’s that recipients often feel are associated with their being on welfare. These stigmas can lead to a loss of the feeling of self-worth that is absolutely necessary if one is to cease government dependency and return to the workforce rather than resigning themselves and thereby failing to seek alternatives. I have done four interviews with Duke students from a variety of backgrounds, two of whom have themselves received welfare assistance, and found some surprising results. Though four interviews are certainly not enough to draw any

groundbreaking conclusions, there are several themes common to all. First of all, they all identify a common stereotype: an inner-city black woman with several children whose parents were most likely on welfare, too. Secondly, they assert that welfare is a cycle that is very difficult, if not impossible, to break. And finally, they all believe that if one is to be successfully weaned from welfare, the government has a responsibility to educate them about available resources and help them to develop job and other skills that are vital to their success. I will now describe the contents of each of the interviews, changing names for their privacy. It should be noted that what the interviewees describe as the stereotype is what they believe that most people think is true of welfare

recipients, not necessarily what they themselves believe. I began by asking what they perceived as the stereotype and how much they thought that it held true. I proceeded then to ask what they thought led to a person getting on and staying on welfare, followed by how they thought someone might get off of welfare (i.e. personal attributes as well as system requirements). For those whom I believed had misconceptions, I recalled the statistic that welfare and non-welfare mothers have the same number of kids on average, also adding discussion about the difficulty (especially for single mothers) of starting a new life in the workforce when child-care and medical coverage are at risk. I then asked for any general comments if they felt I had left anything out. Finally, I asked if they

would propose a new model, or at least some portion of a model, that they thought would be of better use than the current one. Interview #1 Sarah is a middle class, Caucasian girl who grew up in a small town in Vermont. She is an Economics major with a political science minor and will also have a certificate in health policy. She says that when she considers the stereotype of the welfare recipient, the image that comes to mind is “a lazy baby factory”. She claims she has quite a few friends and knows students who attended high school with her who are currently receiving at least some sort of government assistance. The people she knows, however, do not fit the stereotype, she says. Most of them ended up in their situation because they became pregnant in high school and chose