Sociology Faculty Research

Title

Contrasts and Classtalk: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Welfare-To-Work Program Managers

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 9-2014

Abstract

Historically, discourse about welfare in the United States has changed from a language of need' to a culture of dependency'. Adopting dependency' as a frame to construct the public opinion of welfare, workers help maintain the current punitive welfare state. In this study, we use critical discourse analysis to examine how county program managers in Ohio, USA (N = 69) use several discursive techniques to legitimate their identities as good workers while neutralizing negative connotations associated with administering welfare policy. Further, we find managers use discursive techniques of contrast to heighten boundaries between three pairings: (1) generational' and situational' clients, (2) clients and non-clients, and (3) welfare workers and clients. Managers engage in classtalk' in their contrasts in a way that blames the poor through contrasts with others with middle-class values'.

Publication Title

Discourse & Society

Volume

25

Issue

5

First Page

656

Last Page

671