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Abstract

The types of work performed by women receiving public assistance are examined. Research on women's work often neglects the labor of poor women, reinforcing the view that women receiving welfare do not work. This perspective is challenged with focus group and interview data from welfare recipients in New Orleans, Louisiana. We conclude that within the restrictions of public assistance, poor women are engaging in three types of work: domestic work for their families, economic work for cash-both legal and illegal work, and eligibility work. Eligibility work is defined as the labor necessary to obtain and maintain public assistance.

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