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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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Engaging with Rules and Negotiating Compliance

Engaging with Rules and Negotiating Compliance

(p.118) 6 Engaging with Rules and Negotiating Compliance
Cheating Welfare

Kaaryn S. Gustafson

NYU Press

This chapter examines how welfare recipients engaged with welfare rules and negotiated compliance with the rules. More specifically, it considers the variation in welfare recipients' rule engagement by describing three types of welfare recipients: informed recipients, misinformed recipients, and preoccupied/disengaged recipients. It shows that adult heads of households tend to break the rules and outlines some of the factors influencing the type of rule breaking that occurred, including knowledge of the system, the availability of financial support from resources other than the welfare system, human capital (for example, education, self-confidence, age, and race), attitudes about fairness of the rules, and degree of financial desperation. The chapter also highlights the problematic nature of some of the assumptions about rule compliance and rule breaking. Finally, it explains how welfare recipients understand the normative pull of complex rules.

Keywords:   welfare recipients, welfare rules, welfare compliance, rule engagement, informed recipients, misinformed recipients, disengaged recipients, rule breaking

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