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Abstracts from Volume 30, Number 4
(December, 2003)

American Poverty as a Structural Failing: Evidence and Arguments
Mark R. Rank,Hong-Sik Yoon, &Thomas A. Hirschl
Empirical research on American poverty has largely focused on individual characteristics to explain the occurrence and patterns of poverty. The argument in this article is that such an emphasis is misplaced. By focusing upon individual attributes as the cause of poverty, social scientists have largely missed the underlying dynamic of American impoverishment. Poverty researchers have in effect focused on who loses out at the economic game, rather than addressing the fact that the game produces losers in the first place. We provide three lines of evidence to suggest that U.S. poverty is ultimately the result of structural failings at the economic, political, and social levels. These include an analysis into the lack of sufficient jobs in the economy to raise families out of poverty or near poverty; a comparative examination into the high rates of U.S. poverty as a result of the ineffectiveness of the social safety net; and the systemic nature of poverty as indicated by the life course risk of impoverishment experienced by a majority of Americans.We then brieify outline a framework for reinterpreting American poverty. This perspective incorporates the prior research .ndings that have focused on individual characteristics as important factors in who loses out at the economic game, with the structural nature of American poverty that ensures the existence of economic losers in the first place.

Shift Work and Negative Work-to-Family Spillover
Blanche Grosswald
A representative sample of the U.S. workforce from 1997 National Study of the Changing Workforce data (Families & Work Institute, 1999) was examined to study the relationship between shift work and negative workto- family spillover. Negative spillover was measured by Likert-scale frequency responses to questions concerning mood, energy, and time for family as functions of one's job. Statistical analyses comprised t-tests, ANOVAs, and multiple regressions. Among wage earners with families (n = 2,429), shift work showed a significant, strong, positive relationship to high negative work-to-family spillover when controlling for standard demographic characteristics as well as education and occupation. Distinctions among evening, night, rotating and split shifts revealed the highest negative spillover for rotating shift workers. Additional workrelated factors in.uencing negative spillover included number of work hours, preference for fewer work hours (positive associations), supervisory support, job autonomy, and a family-supportive job culture (negative associations).

Because a BetterWorld Is Possible: Women Casino Workers, Union Activism and the Creation of a Just Workplace
Susan Chandler & Jill Jones
Based on a re-analysis of data from a qualitative study of the work experience of 36 women casino workers, this article examines the contributions and personal characteristics of the 13 women in the sample who described themselves as committed union activists. These women, all leaders in the Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees Union, were proud that collectively they had improved wages, benefits, and the conditions of work in Nevada casinos, and had created an environment that reinforced pride in a job well-done, provided job security, and promoted strong families and communities. These women's workplace experience serves as a reminder to the profession of the importance of collective power in the creation of a more just and humane world.

Resiliency Factors Related to Substance Use/Resistance: Perceptions of Native Adolescents of the Southwest
Margaret A. Waller, Scott K. Okamoto, & Donna E. Hurdle
This exploratory, qualitative study examined risk and protective factors influencing drug and alcohol use and/or resistance of Native youth in the Southwest. Thirty-two Native middle school students participated in 10 focus groups that explored their experiences with alcohol and drugs in their school and reservation communities. The findings indicate a complex interaction of both risk and protective factors related to substance use. Respondents' cousins and siblings, in particular, played a key role in their decisions to use or resist drugs. Implications for social work practice are discussed.

A Comprehensive Analysis of Sex and Race Inequities in Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Melissa Latimer
This research makes a unique contribution to the growing body of literature on the welfare system by examining the relationship between sex, race, and social insurance benefits in a rural state. Using data from the WestVirginia Unemployment Compensation Program, this research investigates sex and race differences in (1) monetary disqualifications for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and (2) separation issue and nonseparation issue disqualifications of UI benefits. The analyses indicate that unemployed women, people of color, younger, and low income workers are the most likely to fail the monetary qualifications for UI benefits and to lose qualified weeks of UI benefits.

Finding and Keeping Affordable Housing: Analyzing the Experiences of Single-Mother Families in North Philadelphia
Susan Clampet-Lundquist
The location, availability, and quality of housing shapes one's social networks, affects access to jobs, and impacts on social relations within the housing unit. However, access to affordable housing is limited for a significant portion of the population in the urban United States. In this study, I interviewed eighteen African-American and Puerto Rican single mothers in two low-income neighborhoods of Philadelphia about how they create and maintain their housing arrangements. Within the constraints of an affordable housing shortage, women told me how they struggle to share housing with others, rehab abandoned properties, live in substandard housing, and remain in unsafe neighborhoods. Though their strategies allow them to currently retain housing, they are not without costs. I discuss these findings using the theoretical framework of social capital.

Early Education Experiences & School-to-Work Program Participation
Richard K. Caputo
This study assesses the effects of Head Start participation and demonstrated academic ability during elementary school on School-to-Work (STW) program participation. The study sample comes from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 Cohort and comprises 4,370 adolescents who reported grades they received while in the 8th grade and whether or not they ever repeated a grade in grammar school. Findings indicate that STW programs attract disproportionate numbers of students with histories of marginal demonstrated academic ability. This is so because STW programs are also more likely to attract Head Starters. Demonstrated academic ability varies by race/ethnicity and sex, with lower participation rates by white males. The author suggests that efforts to achieve a more heterogeneous racial/ethnic mix of students to take advantage of school-to-work based initiatives would strengthen such programs. In doing so, such efforts would increase the prospects of Head Start participants entering the mainstream of socioeconomic life in the US more easily than would be the case otherwise. In addition, such efforts would make the US workforce more competitive in an increasingly global economy.

Participants' Perceptions of the Childcare Subsidy System
Sue Pearlmutter & Elizabeth E. Bartle
This paper presents a focus group study of perceptions of cash assistance participants in Cuyahoga County, Ohio and the San Fernando Valley in California regarding childcare subsidy use, choices of care, and perceptions of quality. TANF participants discuss experiences in the subsidy system and indicate needs and preferences for childcare. Advocates, policy makers, and parents recognize the need for suitable childcare so that TANF recipients can go to work. However, discussants' comments demonstrate one result of a changing, but not yet changed, social safety net. The authors explore strategies to address participants' concerns-childcare systems that neither function as promised, nor offer quality of care that enhances child development and is safe and comforting for children.

Organizational Factors Contributing to Worker Frustration: The Precursor to Burnout
Cathleen A. Lewandowski
This study examined the organizational factors that contribute to workers' frustration with their work situation. The sample included 141 service professionals who attended workshops on burnout in 2001. The purpose of the workshops was to increase awareness regarding the organizational factors that could contribute to burnout. Findings indicate that factors most directly affecting clients were predictive of frustration, rather than factors that may indirectly support service quality or factors impacting workers' professional autonomy. A sense of powerlessness and isolation was also predictive of frustration, suggesting that participants viewed workplace problems as a private rather than an organizational concern. To address workplace concerns, workers can empower themselves for social action by engaging in a dialogue to examine the relationship between work and individual well-being.

Book Reviews
Settlement Houses Under Siege: The Struggle to Sustain Community Organizations in New York City
Michael Fabricant & Robert Fisher
Reviewed by: Bill Buffim

Faithful Angels: Portraits of International Social Work Notables
James O. Billups, (Ed.)
Reviewed by Lynne M. Healy

Workfare: Why Good Ideas Go Bad
Maeve Quaid
Reviewed by Colita Nichols Fairfax

A Sealed and Sacred Kinship: The Culture of Policies and Practices in American Adoption
Judith S. Modell
Reviewed by Dorinda N. Noble

From Immigration Controls to Welfare Controls
Steve Cohen, Beth Humphries & Ed Mynott (Eds.)
Reviewed by Miriam Potocky-Tripodi

Working Parents and theWelfare State: Family Change and Policy Reform in Scandinavia
Arnlaug Leira
Reviewed by Rebecca A. Van Voorhis

Inventing the Needy: Gender and the Politics of Welfare in Hungary
Lynne Haney
Reviewed by Rebecca A. Van Voorhis

Book Notes
Globalization and Human Welfare
Vic George & Paul Wilding

Single Mothers and the State: The Politics of Care in Sweden and the United States CeciliaWinkler

Life Support: The Environment and Human Health
Michael McCally

Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in Twentieth Century U. S. History

Alice O'Connor

Financialization of Daily Life. Philadelpia, PA
Randy Martin

 

 

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