Linking Welfare Clients to Jobs: Discretionary Use of Worker Social Capital

By Livermore, Michelle; Neustrom, Alison | Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Linking Welfare Clients to Jobs: Discretionary Use of Worker Social Capital


Livermore, Michelle, Neustrom, Alison, Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare


The overarching theme of the 1996 welfare reform law was to move clients from dependency to self-sufficiency by facilitating their entry into the labor market. While numerous mechanisms were used to do this, this study explores discretionary actions taken by workers to help clients find jobs, namely, tapping into their own social capital. Respondents in one urban and one rural county in a southern state reported using their own social capital to get information regarding job openings and to exert influence to get clients hired. Notably, respondents at all levels of the bureaucracy expected this behavior to occur. Both the positive and negative aspects of social capital emerged as points of discussion in the rural county. Potential benefits and risks of worker social capital use are discussed as are future research directions and implications.

**********

A plethora of research undertaken in recent years addresses the impact of the TANF program on clients. This research documents a variety of factors that affect the success or failure of clients in securing and maintaining employment, including the economic conditions of an area, skill levels of recipients, child care, transportation, and client attitudes (Brayfield and Hofferth, 1995; Ong, 1996; Hofferth, 1999; Danziger et al., 1999; Kalil, Schweingruber, and Seefeldt, 2001). The Work First strategy driving the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193) focuses on pushing welfare recipients into the labor force as rapidly as possible (Midgley and Rainford, 2000). Much of the discourse surrounding welfare reform focuses on the client's responsibility to work while the specific responsibilities and tasks to be undertaken by the state in the welfare-to-work era eludes most inquiry (Brodkin, 1997). Thus, a closer look at how state agencies and individual workers implement their side of the welfare-to-work contract is warranted (Brodkin, 1997). Otherwise, as Brodkin (1997) points out, bureaucratic processes are reduced to the proverbial black box. One area not sufficiently discussed in the literature is the formal and informal mechanisms used by welfare workers to find employment for their clients. This study explores one informal job search mechanism: worker social capital. It seeks to determine whether or not workers use their own social capital to help clients find jobs, ascertain the factors that influence this use and examine the attitudes and opinions of workers regarding its use.

Theoretical Framework

Social Capital and the Job Search

Social capital exists in the social relations of individuals (Lin, 1999) and like Bourdieu's (1985) conception of the term, social capital, in this paper, refers to elements of social relationships that result in economic benefits to individuals. This includes the social-structural resources available to individuals that facilitate actions that further their interests (Coleman, 1990). Especially useful in the job search are the social resources present in the networks of others, known as alters, in an individual's network. Individuals whose alters have higher levels of wealth, status, and power have greater access to information and influence that can improve stratification outcomes (Lin, Ensel, & Vaughan, 1981). Research has demonstrated that social networks are essential in obtaining both professional and entry-level blue-collar jobs (Granovetter, 1981; Kaye and Nightingale, 2000). Newman (1999) affirmed these findings in reference to the low-skilled work force during her research in Harlem, "employers can be very choosy, and they use social networks, among other things, as a mechanism for streamlining the choice-making process" (p. 84).

Worker Social Capital And Discretion

Job readiness and search classes, on-the-job training, community work experience placements (CWEP) and other subsidized employment opportunities provide welfare recipients avenues to enter the work force. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Linking Welfare Clients to Jobs: Discretionary Use of Worker Social Capital
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.