Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Sociology; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Africana Studies

Project Advisor 1

Allison McKim

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Based on six in-depth interviews with Black women in the Metro-Atlanta area who have at some point in the past ten years received welfare assistance, this project serves to understand how Black women relate to the welfare system in the current moment. To best understand their circumstances, I set forth a three-part question: how do Black women welfare recipients experience the welfare system in the current moment?; how do they interpret these experiences?; and lastly, how do these experiences and interpretations lend to how they conceptualize, construct, and/or manage their identities as Black women welfare recipients? I argue that my participants' experiences with the welfare system are varied based on their backgrounds of financial stability or instability and their adherence to or non-compliance with standards about work participation and the nuclear family order; this consequently influences their interpretations of their experiences which they express via whom or what they blame for their conditions of financial instability. Lastly, however, I argue that regardless of their circumstances and experiences, each of my participants believes that they are rights-bearing citizens who are a part of the mainstream American citizenry and thus adopt mainstream American values that center independence, work, and self-responsibility. As a result, through what I term politics of distance, my respondents are able to justify their claims on the welfare system as they conceptualize and construct their identities in adherence to the American value system.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

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