Attitudes toward social welfare, cleavage, polarization, culture wars


Opinion polls probing both the narrow and broad senses of social welfare among Americans indicate hardly any substantial differences over crucial social sentiments among a variety of groups with at least theoretically divergent interests: rich and poor, men and women, blacks and whites, a variety of ethnic groups, union and nonunion households. The items mainly concern the provision of welfare to the poor through AFDC, now TANF, and Food Stamps but also cover OASDHI. Consistently over more than sixty five years of systematic opinion polling, there is an astonishing consensus, so large in fact that it may undermine any effort to move the American citizenry into a more congregational series of provisions for each other. In fact, the consensus is antagonistic to the public welfare. Americans by their very actions, opinions, and codified intentions have canceled the notions of class and caste in subverting a generous welfare state.

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