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Joe Soss Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Leaning and Political Action - Term Paper Example

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Joe Soss Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Leaning and Political Action

Joe Soss’ “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Leaning and Political Action” attempts to define the link between party politics, government institutions such as welfare and the political participation of welfare beneficiaries. Soss points out that welfare recipients are not prone to being involved in voting or political activism. Because of the disillusion in unfulfilled electoral promises, the invasive questions of social welfare officials, and the pressure to meet more burning priorities such as food, shelter, and employment, persons depending on the welfare system are unlikely to be active or return political favors to the government. In this case, Soss emphasizes the characteristic “quiescence” of the poor masses to whom the government gives alms in exchange for its support. Another reason for the general apolitical sentiment among welfare beneficiaries is that welfare policies are structured in such a way that the less the welfare respondents reveal concerning their personal lives, the better. They have learned that to survive, they have to don a façade which would put them in the good graces of the government who endows them with benefits through certain social policies. Internal efficacy is the term used to describe the confidence possessed within an individual or group to transact business with government and carry out policies which initiate or forward change. In this case, low internal efficacy begets low expectations and political immobility. Both Joe Soss and Edella Schlager concur that the effect of policies can depend on variables contained within different programs and demographic data such as age, sex, race, residence, education and income. Schlager classifies this type of policy classification as social construction theory which stipulates that for each policy, there exists a target population with definable traits. Soss recognizes that government systems broadly target groups, categorize, and even stereotype using raw data for example, “welfare mothers.” Based on the layout of the policy, these target populations such as welfare recipients feel either encouraged or discouraged in political participation. Target populations consider their interaction with various government departments as representative microcosm of “big government,” therefore they arrive at conclusions originating from their dealings and responses from public agencies. According to Soss’ study, levels of active partisanship and the success of policies are linked to education. In this group analysis, program subjects who are more educated, feel more empowered, tend to claim legitimate rights of government organization and make informed decisions. As a result, they have high internal efficacy (Soss 1999). The paternalistic structure of policies which fosters the relationship between government and welfare recipients is one influencing factor which contributes to political passivity. Policies are developed which compel program subjects to divulge information, threaten to sever benefits, implement regular assessments to prove eligibility for continued financial support, and discourage outspokenness. These formatted policies ...Show more

Summary

Underlying policies are political agencies, motives and ends. The brand of certain policies determines to a large extent the political involvement of certain groups. At the same time, some individuals approach policymakers and government institutions using their own experiences and interactions with government employees who carry out policies…
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