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Policing Work and Family: How Workers Cope with Contradictions and Dilemmas of Implementing Welfare-to-Work

Work and Family in the New Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78441-630-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-629-4

ISSN: 0277-2833

Publication date: 17 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

In the United States, welfare-to-work workers are under scrutiny from everyone and must defend the program if they want to defend themselves as good workers and good people. I build on past research that has examined how workers manage their emotions to cope with dilemmas in their jobs in a number of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, and airplanes.

Methodology

In this chapter, I draw on data from an in-depth case study of a rural North Carolina (USA) welfare office using data primarily from observations and interviews with 19 welfare-to-work workers.

Findings

Within this highly constrained and contradictory work environment, workers recreate and redefine themselves as good workers and good people while simultaneously punishing program participants. To achieve this difficult task, workers manage their emotions through two key strategies, using institutionalized rhetoric and tough love paternalism, to justify their actions toward participants.

Originality/value

I add to the existing literature by examining how welfare-to-work workers cope with the emotional and moral dilemmas of their jobs.

Keywords

Citation

Taylor, T. (2015), "Policing Work and Family: How Workers Cope with Contradictions and Dilemmas of Implementing Welfare-to-Work", Work and Family in the New Economy (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 127-150. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0277-283320150000026012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited