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cial, and symbolic resources support the social mobility of the children of welfare de-
pendent white women.
Our research findings contribute to the welfare, critical whiteness studies, social mo-
bility, and impression management literatures by providing a more nuanced understand-
ing of racial privilege in the housing market as it operates among impoverished women.
The issue of how women who possess the bodily capital to represent themselves as “un-
hyphenated whites” utilized racial privilege to soften the blows of poverty and secure
basic resources for their children has been relatively neglected in the literature on low-
income women and welfare dependent families. For these impoverished women, their
whiteness may still be a limited, but nonetheless a useful resource to ensure their sur-
vival. Whiteness can sometimes be converted into benefits not available to women per-
1 . Section8housingissubsidizedbythefederalgovernmenttosupportlow-incomeandimpoverished
residents. They pay below-market rents for this housing which is in short supply.
2 . To identify and recruit potential research participants one of the authors (MacDonald) sent letters
to local social service organizations in the Greater Boston area including women's shelters, food
banks, and welfare to work programs. MacDonald then posted weekly research advertisements un-
der the volunteer section of the Boston Craigslist for a period of four months prior to field research
in Boston. The requirements for inclusion in the study included the following: (a) participants self-
identified as white, (b) participants were current or former ADFC or TAFDC recipients, and (c)
participants resided within the Greater Boston area. Over thirty individuals responded to the re-
who did not participate in the study fell into one of the following categories: (a) they did not fit
the criteria of the study, (b) they expressed initial interest but then, for an unknown reason, chose
either not to schedule an interview or participate in a scheduled interview. Fourteen of the twenty
respondents were gathered by this method. MacDonald then used a snow balling method to locate
other participants.
The data presented in this chapter is based on in-depth, semistructured interviews with twenty
white women living in the Greater Boston area in 2010 and 2011. All of the women were currently
employed at the time of my interviews. Eight women were currently receiving TAFDC benefits,
five women were receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), four women were receiv-
ing Social Security Insurance (SSI), and three women were receiving Unemployment Insurance at
the time of the research. Of the eight women currently receiving TAFDC benefits, three were also
received welfare benefits prior to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Recon-
ciliation Act (PRWORA). Twelve of the twenty women identified as welfare veterans (i.e. origin-
ating from multigenerational welfare recipient families). These women cited their mothers, aunts,
sisters, and cousins as current or previous welfare recipients.
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