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A person's presentation of self, as Goffman uses that depends phrase, in part on the expectations of others, and also, no doubt, on the power which these others have over the person. Thus it happens very frequently that persons, particularly of low status or stigmatized positions, are called upon, as a conscious or unconscious technique of survival, to present to others negative featureS of the self; to resort to what Goffman has called "negative idealization." (Coffman 1959; 39-41; 1963). These considerations have direct bearing on the role of welfare recipients in American society. Welfare clients, if they are to continue to receive assistance, must present themselves to public officials in ways which reflect the welfare system's biases concerning the reasons for their "dependency." This paper focuses on some of the social factors which increase the likelihood that one particular bureau- cratically acceptable "reason for dependency"--poor health--assumes an important role in the legitimation of continued welfare assistance to mothers with dependent children.

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