Date of Award

12-1-2000

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Social Work

Degree Name

Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dr. Amos A. Ajo

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of race, social class status (middle income) and political party affiliation on the attitudes of middle class White and African Americans toward welfare reform legislation. This study focused on the comparison of the two groups: (1) African Americans with an annual income between $35,000 - $99,999; and (2) White Americans with an annual income also between $35,000 - $99,999. Specifically, a comparison was done to identify what similarities and/or differences exist between the two groups in relation to the dependent variable (attitudes toward welfare reform legislation), and the independent variables (race, social class status: income and political party affiliation).

The sample population was randomly selected from a total of ten sites using the systematic sample process. This explanatory study used the survey questionnaire research method to collect data on each independent variable in relation to the dependent variable. The questionnaire contained 46 statements and was divided into three sections: (1) Demographics, (2) Poverty and Welfare Knowledge, and (3) Welfare Reform Attitudes. Data collected were analyzed by employing the Chi-square statistical technique.

The findings of this study suggest that race and social class status (middle income) were not key factors in determining the public’s attitudes toward the issue of welfare reform legislation, while political party affiliation was a issue. Conclusions drawn from the data indicated that White and African Americans have very direct and adamant attitudes about the work ethics of poor people. In fact they share similar concerns about making America a more productive society through encouraging work and self- sufficiency among welfare recipients. Their attitudes about supporting welfare reform legislation transcend racial lines.

Particular attention was given to understanding the level of support for welfare reform legislation expressed by African Americans. Finally, the author concluded this study with a series of recommendations that may assist the field of social work in addressing the issue of poverty. Specific emphasis was placed on the presentation of a strategic model for social work practitioners to address poverty.

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