Identity, Work, and Welfare Reform: A Qualitative Analysis (WP-02-01)
Dan A. Lewis, Irene Carvalho, and Bruce Nelson
This paper examines variations in response among individuals to welfare reform policies. Findings of a two-year qualitative study of welfare recipients are presented and a "person-centered policy analysis" is employed to understand how the participant's identity, or conception of self, has shaped the individual's response to welfare reform. Three types of identities emerge: Nurturers, Providers, and the Disaffected. While most study participants transitioned from welfare to work, independence from welfare was achieved in different ways according to one's self-identity. The paper concludes with suggestions for policy implementation targeted at the specific needs of each identity type.