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Text, Lies, and the Welfare State: The Portrayal of Welfare Recipients in Welfare-to-Work Educational Programs.

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A study analyzed the ideological messages about welfare recipients promoted in two welfare-to-work educational programs. Data were collected through interviews with students, teachers, and administrators at an adult literacy classroom serving unemployed women on welfare and an employment preparation program designed to increase job skills of women on welfare; classroom observations; and curriculum materials and official program documents. Data were analyzed for themes addressing ideological assumptions about participants as learners and welfare recipients. Findings indicated descriptions of students in the programs revealed deficit perspectives that reinforced the demonization of welfare recipients occurring in public and policy rhetoric; the formal curriculum and teachers in both programs focused on their students as welfare recipients and repeatedly stressed their dependency on "the system;" and the formal curriculum and teachers described students in terms of the many deficits it was perceived they possessed. That perspective included that students lacked proper morals or ethics; they had problems with personal hygiene and appropriate appearance; they had many life problems stemming from lack of family support, education, knowledge of good nutrition, good parenting skills, money management skills, and life management skills; and many lacked a work ethic and motivation, failed to put forth effort, and were lazy. (11 references) (YLB)

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Author:Sandlin, Jennifer A.
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:May 1, 2002
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