This case study explores the relationship between ideology and the performance of the voluntary social welfare sector in Western New York. Data were collected from the directors of 22 of the largest and most important voluntary social welfare agencies relating to their own social attitudes and those of their boards. The common expression of similar agency attitudes toward a variety of social policies were in narrow conformity with the conservative values of the current national administration. The common core of conservative values, suggesting that the agencies perform an ideological role within the community in addition to their service role, may explain much of their decision to ignore great and growing social needs. Yet most troubling for the possibility of liberal reform, the ideological commitments of the voluntary social welfare sector and the social preference voiced through its social service programs may be the widely-shared and regnant values of the contemporary United States.

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