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Abstract

Welfare use is a highly stigmatized behavior in American society. The word itself conjures up various images of disdain in the minds of most Americans. Yet how do the recipients of welfare discern and react to being on public assistance? The focus of this paper is on understanding the manner in which recipients view their own situation, how they perceive the general public's attitudes toward themselves, and their views on fellow welfare recipients. Also examined are how such attitudes influence recipients' behavior towards welfare. These perceptions and behaviors are explored in detail through the use of in-depth, open-ended qualitative interviews with a random sample of welfare recipients. The concept of managing and coping with stigma is utilized to provide insights into the results.

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