Do the Poor Want to Work? A Social-Psychological Study of Work Orientations

Do the Poor Want to Work? A Social-Psychological Study of Work Orientations

Do the Poor Want to Work? A Social-Psychological Study of Work Orientations

Do the Poor Want to Work? A Social-Psychological Study of Work Orientations

Excerpt

How poor people, especially black recipients of public welfare, feel about work is an issue surrounded by much opinion and emotion but little research. Current proposals for meeting the needs of the welfare poor have brought to the surface conflicting views about their work orientations. Do the poor really want to work, or do they reject this form of activity, preferring welfare or other ways of getting money? Social scientists have given this topic little attention until recently, so there is no established body of literature.

Understanding the differences and the fundamental similarities in the work orientations of poor and more affluent groups is the central concern of this study. Leonard Goodwin, a research associate in the Brookings Governmental Studies program, has developed a framework for understanding and measuring work orientations and how they relate to the work activity of the poor. Extensive efforts were made to gather data from a broad spectrum of poor and nonpoor people and to ensure the validity and reliability of responses. More than 4,000 persons were surveyed and the results checked for possible interviewer bias in responses. The traditional measures of statistical significance used in the text establish a basis for interpreting broad trends that appear in the data.

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