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Cheating WelfarePublic Assistance and the Criminalization of Poverty$
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Kaaryn S. Gustafson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814732311

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814732311.001.0001

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Living within and without the Rules

Living within and without the Rules

(p.93) 5 Living within and without the Rules
Cheating Welfare

Kaaryn S. Gustafson

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on welfare recipients' compliance and noncompliance with welfare rules and regulations based on the results of interviews with thirty-four individuals in a Northern California county. It first assesses the financial needs that went unmet in interviewee households and how the interviewees attempted to meet their needs. It then examines the interviewees' difficulties understanding the rules and seeing them as logical. It shows that in some cases, or at least to some extent, the interviewees complied with many of the welfare rules, fulfilling work requirements and reporting earnings to the welfare office. In other cases, however, the interviewees went outside the rules—taking “side jobs” that paid cash and that they did not report to the welfare office, or receiving undeclared support from friends or family.

Keywords:   welfare recipients, Northern California, compliance, noncompliance, welfare rules, work requirements, side jobs, financial needs, interviews

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