Mothers: Opinions and Stereotypes
The views of welfare directors about clients and their views of what the opinions people in general hold about welfare stimulates one to wonder what people at about the same time thought welfare recipients were like. Fortunately, some data are available, using a 1964 survey of Detroit mothers. These data are of interest for several interrelated reasons. First, of course, they allow us to compare people in general with the views of welfare directors on people in general, even though the mothers were interviewed in 1964 and the welfare directors in 1969. Second, it provides a look at pre-riot Detroit.
To look at what urban residents, that is, women with children who would be eligible for AFDC, thought about the program, is of some interest. Further, differences in view by race, social class of neighborhood, and whether or not they had been users of the program would be of interest and contribute to an understanding of who thinks what and why.
Important, too, though, is a comparison of these views with those toward private agencies. Private volunteer social agencies were the first line of defense against poverty before the government programs developed in the 1930s. Today they still play a vital role in providing social services to their communities. These services tend to be more focused on personal counseling and interpersonal helping and there is much argument that they will again become the first line of defense.
By definition, public welfare agencies work only with those in financial need, whereas the concept of need which might bring one into contact with a