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Abstract

The overarching theme of the 1996 welfare reform law was to move clients from dependency to self-sufficiency by facilitating their entry into the labor market. While numerous mechanisms were used to do this, this study explores discretionary actions taken by workers to help clients find jobs, namely, tapping into their own social capital. Respondents in one urban and one rural county in a southern state reported using their own social capital to get information regarding job openings and to exert influence to get clients hired. Notably, respondents at all levels of the bureaucracy expected this behavior to occur. Both the positive and negative aspects of social capital emerged as points of discussion in the rural county. Potential benefits and risks of worker social capital use are discussed as are future research directions and implications.

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