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Abstracts from Volume 31, Number 2
(June, 2004)

Work-based Welfare as a Ritual: Understanding Marginalization in Post-Independence Lithuania
Arunas Juska and Richard Pozzuto, East Carolina University
The paper analyzes the functioning of the newly created labor exchange in post-Soviet Lithuania. It is argued that the labor exchange in post-Soviet Lithuania operates under the conditions of a structural contradiction: welfare services are designed to reintegrate unemployed into the labor force under the conditions of (a) increasing competitiveness of the labor markets and (b) a rapid decline of employment within the Lithuanian economy. As a result, labor redundancy is produced which consists predominantly of low skill/education individuals. Because the economy is unable to generate employment, job searches for this segment of the population are transformed into a highly bureaucratized and ritualized activities directed and supervised by the labor exchange. The purpose of the activities is to impose social order and control over those marginalized from the labor force via the creation of the divisions between deserving and undeserving poor. Foucault's theory of governmentality is used to examine two types of rituals employed by the labor exchange: individual and group based. The effectiveness of the labor exchange as a mechanism of social control and the impact the labor exchange has on the marginalization of some categories of the unemployed are discussed.

Making TANF Work: Organizational Restructuring, Staff Buy-In, and Performance Monitoring in Local Implementation
Frank Ridzi, LeMoyne College
While research suggests that staff resistance to change and intentional subversion have hampered prior welfare reform efforts, this does not appear to be the case for the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). This paper draws on data from a study of East County, New York to explicate the mechanisms that have enabled the unprecedented transformation in local implementation practice in this case. Interviews, participant observation, and textual analysis of legislative and program documents identify new program creation, staff buy-in, and the environment created by stern performance measures as instrumental in bringing about the PRWORA's successful implementation of policy changes. Revealing workplace dynamics that mutually reinforce and compel attention to institutional interests, these findings suggest that further research is needed to examine how these implementation dynamics impact staff responsiveness to clients and clients' experiences.

Legislative Casework: Where Policy and Practice Intersect
Larry P. Ortiz, University of Maryland, Cindy Wirz, Director of Constituent Services, San Antonio, TX, Kelli Semion, Ciro Rodriguez, Congressman, San Antonio, TX
Legislative casework is an ongoing activity in many state and federal legislative offices. Although the activity carries the implication of being a social work activity, there is little evidence from the literature, or in the field, that social workers are more than marginally employed in these positions. Reasons for the lack of professionally educated social workers in this important area of practice and politics are not clear. This paper explores the field of practice known as legislative casework, its history and purpose, and presents generalist social work examples from a Congressional district office wherein which professional social workers are employed. In conclusion the authors encourage social work presence in legislative casework and suggest increased attention to this field of practice in social work education at both the BSW and MSW levels.

"Won't be weighted down:" Richard R. Wright, Jr.'s contributions to social work and social welfare
Kevin F. Modesto, Point Loma Nazarene University
African-American scholars, intellectuals, and social work practitioners made significant contributions to American thought and life during the Progressive Era. Unfortunately, their work is often overlooked by history. This paper explores the contributions of Richard R.Wright, Jr., an African- American, sociologist, social worker, and minister. His voice has rarely been heard beyond the walls of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; however, his contributions to sociology, social welfare, and the church serve as a model of integration for scholars, social workers, and ministers. Wright's example is particularly valuable as policy makers and the public look to organized religion for solutions to social problems.

Digital Divide in Computer Access and Use Between Poor and Non-Poor Youth
Mary Keegan Eamon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The main objectives of this study were to examine the "digital divide" in home computer ownership and to evaluate differences in academic and non-academic computer use between poor and non-poor youth. Data from a national sample of 1,029, 10- through 14-year-old young adolescents were analyzed. Results show that poor youth were .36 times as likely to own a home computer, but equally as likely to use their home computer for academic purposes as were non-poor youth. Poor youth did not differ from non-poor youth in how often they used any computer for academic purposes, but were less likely to use any computer for non-academic purposes. Government initiatives to close the digital divide and foster computer use among poor youth are suggested.

Battered and on Welfare: The Experiences of Women with the Family Violence Option
Judy L. Postmus, University of Kansas
Noting the incidence of battered women on welfare, lawmakers passed the Family Violence Option (FVO), which allows states to offer waivers from welfare program requirements. Assumptions were made that many women would seek relief under the FVO. However, reports indicate that less than 5 percent of welfare recipients are receiving waivers. This paper presents the findings from a qualitative study that sought to explore the experiences of 29 battered women with the welfare system and the FVO in New York State. Their experiences suggest that changes in FVO screening process are necessary to fully implement the program in the way legislators intended.

Voices from the Middle: How Performance Funding Impacts Workforce Organizations, Professionals and Customers
Roberta Rehner Iversen, University of Pennsylvania
Under recent policy reforms, the landscape of authority relations in welfare and workforce development organizations has radically changed from one that privileged internal professional autonomy to one that privileges external authorities. Performance, rather than input funding is the medium for this change. Longitudinal ethnographic research reveals that performance requirements in workforce development both contribute to and challenge organizational structure and program design, professional practices, and job seeker outcomes. As such, when the "voices" of job-seeking customers, directly and through their affiliated workforce organizations, professionals, and employers, are added to the "voices" of funders under performance funding, polyvocality may result in more consensual authority relations: in particular, less autonomous power for professionals, less program hegemony for funders, and greater power for job seekers over their futures. These findings may also pertain to organizations and professionals funded under other performance directives, such as managed care and welfare-to-work.

Private Food Assistance in the Deep South: Assessing Agency Directors' Knowledge of Charitable Choice
Suzie T. Cashwell, Western Kentucky University, John P. Bartkowski, Mississippi State University, Patricia A. Duffy, Vanessa Casanova, Joseph J. Molnar, Marina Irimia-Vladu, Auburn University
In recent years, food banking has emerged as an important tool in America's fight against hunger and malnutrition. At the same time, the charitable choice provision of 1996 welfare reform law has significantly expanded the opportunity for public-private partnerships in the provision of social services. Given the new opportunities ushered in by this legislation, this study examines the knowledge that food pantry directors in Alabama and Mississippi possess about charitable choice. Our study reveals that food pantry directors are generally lacking in knowledge about key charitable choice provisions, thereby limiting the potential for this initiative to be utilized fully in this area. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings and specifying directions for future research.

The Sound of Silence: Social Work, the Academy, and Iraq
Scott Harding University of Kansas
Despite the imposition of economic sanctions against Iraq in 1990, the social work academy has ignored the impact of this global social policy promoted by the international community. Though evidence existed for more than 10 years that sanctions contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children and other vulnerable groups in Iraq, while also crippling the nation's health care and social infrastructure, the profession has remained silent. The implications of this case study suggest a need for greater engagement by social work researchers and the profession on global issues.

BOOK REVIEWS

The Loss of a Life Partner: Narratives of the Bereaved.
Carolyn AmblerWalter.
Reviewed by Amanda Smith Barusch.

Realizing Rights: Transforming Approaches to Sexual & Reproductive Well-Being.
Andrea Cornwall and Alice Welbourn (Eds.)
Reviewed by Carol Tully.

Refusing Care: Forced Treatment and the Rights of the Mentally Ill.
Elyn R. Saks.
Reviewed by Kai J. Bentley.

Handbook of Drug Abuse Prevention: Theory Science and Practice.
Zili Sloboda & William J. Bukowski (Eds).
Reviewed by Sean R. Hogan.

The Origins of Justice: The Evolution of Morality, Human Rights, and Law.
John O' Manique.
Reviewed by Dorothy Van Soest.

Situational Prison Control: Crime Prevention in Correctional Institutions.
Richard Wortley.
Reviewed by Margaret Severson.

BOOK NOTES

The Call to Social Work: Life Stories.
Craig Winston LeCroy

Pluralism at Yale: The Culture of Political Science in America. Richard M. Merelman.

The Welfare Marketplace: Privatization and Welfare Reform. M. Byrna Sanger.

Aging in the New Millenium: A Global View.
Terry Tirrito.

The Difference Disability Makes.
Rod Michalko.

 

 

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