WIDOWS DE FACTO AND DE JURE: AFDC AND OASDI
MACDONALD, JOANNE RUTH
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Women heads of families of dependent children are treated differently by the government programs established to assist them. Aid has been given to widows considered deserving of assistance through the OASDI program and aid has been given to widows considered undeserving through the AFDC program. This study consisted of interviews with white women who receive assistance from each of these programs, who live in a semi-rural, non-urban New Jersey county. The theory of marginal man conceived by Robert E. Park and expanded by Everett V. Stonequist was useful in devising an interview guide. Interviews were held with twenty-six women in their own homes in order to elicit data which could be classified using the constant comparative method of Glaser and Strauss. The impact of the program stance upon the recipients of AFDC and OASDI was compared according to six aspects of life: self-esteem, participation in society, attitudes toward men, attitudes toward the benefit-providing agency and its staff, the quality of life, and attitudes toward work. Findings indicate that in each of those areas the AFDC respondents were aware of the premises underlying the program stance--while OASDI respondents expressed feelings comparable to those of the AFDC respondents only when program rules and regulations affecting eligibility were perceived as based upon personal circumstances. The study concludes that the certainty of cash assistance provides the control over resources viewed as essential for a head of family, that for all of these women a common concern was access to medical care, and that the ever changing rules and regulations of AFDC create stress for recipients. The study includes quotations from the respondents which amplify the findings. Suggestion is made that government policy move toward elimination of the AFDC program focusing upon a policy of full employment and children's allowances.