Investigating the Life of Welfare Recipients Research Paper

Pages: 6 (2136 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sociology

¶ … Lives of Welfare Recipients

Investigating the Life of Welfare Recipients

It is a common assumption that more African-Americans are on welfare than any other race. We tend to believe this because of the stereotypes we see in the media. The truth of the matter is that more whites are welfare recipients than African-Americans. According to the recent census, this country is made up of 79.6% whites and 12.9% blacks, with other races making up the remaining population (www.census.gov). What may be contributing to this myth aside from the stereotypes we see in the media is that of the almost 80% of whites in the country, one in ten are on welfare and one in three African-Americans are on welfare (www.childstats.gov). If the population only consisted of 100,000 people, approximately 7,900 whites would be on welfare and approximately 4,333 African-Americans would be welfare recipients. It is easy to see why it appears that there are more African-Americans on welfare because such a large percentage of this race as a whole is on welfare. However, the numbers are still much lower than the number of whites on welfare.

Age and Race

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Instead of focusing on African-Americans or any other minority, the study would be done on whites who are welfare recipients. Studies have shown that many Americans believe that blacks make up at least 50% of those on welfare, but this is incorrect because they do not even come close to making up 50% of the American population (Rodgers, 2009, p. 768). The average age of a welfare recipient is 31 years (www.socwomen.org). When most think of welfare, they think of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFCD) which has now been replaced by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). However, welfare consists of many other programs of which white are the bulk of the recipients. Programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security Retirement and Survivors Insurance are also consider public aid and whites make up a higher percentage of the recipients than do blacks ("Who Gets Welfare," 1992, p. 56).

Type of Study

Research Paper on Investigating the Life of Welfare Recipients Assignment

With the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, it is difficult to say how long the average welfare recipient remains on welfare. A quantitative study would need to be done in order to get an estimate to this question. If only one welfare recipient is studied, we have nothing to compare this recipient with. So, for the purposes of this study a sampling of whites who are welfare recipients should be used. Because there is so little information on this population and welfare, it is possible that new information will be found which could lead to future studies. To answer other assumptions in the study, a qualitative approach is necessary. Not only is the length of time the recipient remains on welfare important, but also other factors such as:

1. Their plans to get out of the welfare system.

2. The efforts they are making to get out of the welfare system.

3. Are they actively looking for work?

In order to get answers to these questions, a qualitative study is imperative. A qualitative approach would be chosen for this study because after we determine the sampling of individuals using quantitative methods, we need to ask questions which whose answers are not determined by numbers. Qualitative research deals with the meaning and description of things and quantitative research deals with counts and measures (Berg, 2009, p. 3). For this reason, a qualitative approach is best for this study. The answers to these questions will need to be analyzed carefully, logged, and coded. This process is necessary because information gathered in a qualitative study usually includes interviews, observations, forums and other types of data (Lofland, 2005, p. 84). The information must be interpreted without bias.

Research Methods

Ethics plays a large role in any type of research and care must be taken that no one's confidence is betrayed or anonymity is revealed. Many of the individuals chosen for this study may elect to participate in some of the research process, but not all. For instance, they may be will to take an anonymous survey, or have a one on one interview with the researcher. but, they may be reluctant to participate in a group forum for fear that any answers to questions may be used against them. The protection of human subjects is important in any type of research. The purpose of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to ensure that human subjects are protected during research from having their anonymity revealed; from being easily identified; and from having their safety put at risk (Berg, p. 73).

In order to be certain that the participants were not coerced into being subjects for this study, written consent would be required with the consent form stating exactly how the research would be conducted. It would also state that they would not be identified by name, but that each survey taken would have other identifiable information aside from the participant's name. Participation would be purely voluntary. No incentives will be given to subjects for agreeing to participate in the survey. Participants of the survey will also be asked to volunteer to be interviewed on a one on one basis with the researcher. This will also require consent and the subject's actually name or any other identifiable information will not be used to ensure privacy as well as confidentiality.

The survey given to the participants will contain multiple choice and open ended questions which allow for the participant to write in their own responses. The researcher must be careful not to choose questions that will steer the participants in a certain way so that they answer the question to fulfill the researcher's hypothesis. The face-to-face interviews will be more of a discussion between the participant and the researcher. The purpose will be to get the person's point-of-view on the questions and topics discussed and then see how their answers match up in the focus group to what they said in the one on one interview. It is important that the information be consistent to make the study as valid as possible.

An ethnographic study would be appropriate for this research. Even though the participants may be from different ethnic cultures, it should be determined if there is a common culture amongst them as it relates to being a welfare recipient. This type of study would be particularly useful for a group forum. The 'participant as observer' approach will be used. This is where the researcher makes his or her presence known and the purpose of the forum (Berg, 2009, p. 81). Given that the surveys will be done first and one on one interview second, establishing a rapport with the forum participants should not be difficult as they will already have become familiar with the researcher.

During this ethnographic study is where various questions can be asked by the researcher and then participants allowed to chime in. For instance, the research may make a statement about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and how it compares to Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Drawing from previous research, a statement could be make that the TANF restrictions seem fair because they require recipients to engage in allowable work activities within 24 months of receiving benefits. In addition, recipients cannot receive more than 60 months of benefits in their lifetime (Parisi et al., 2006, p. 77). Posing the statement in such a way that it seems fair and backing it up with printed research will surely spark a heated discussion amongst the participants.

This assumption is made because based on further research it has been shown that making the transition from welfare to work is difficult for many recipients, especially women. According to Turner et al., many women on welfare have other issues such as physical limitations, drug and alcohol dependence or reliable transportation which prevents them from successfully holding down employment. There are too few programs that assist women with these issues forcing them back to public aid (2006, pp. 228, 245). This information would not be revealed to the participants, but rather it would be determined if it matches up with what the women say during the discussion on TANF benefits and finding gainful employment.

Another possible method of qualitative research with the participants is a peer led focus group. This peer led focus group in no way replaces the ethnographic study, but is seen as an extension of it. The ethnographic study is more of a traditional focus group where the participants will discuss topics under the direction of the researcher who moderates. The peer led focus group will have a selected leader who will serve as the moderator of the group. A topic or topics will be chosen and the group will interact with one another while the moderator sits back and observes. The group can be one large group or depending on the number of participants, the group can be broken up into several small groups with each… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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