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Waiting it out: Time, action, and the process of securing benefits

Publication Abstract

Seefeldt, Kristin. 2017. "Waiting it out: Time, action, and the process of securing benefits." Qualitative Social Work, 16(3): 300-316.

Waiting is an under-explored area of social stratification and domination. Lower-income Americans frequently endure long waits, including waits to secure social welfare benefits, and these waits may serve the purpose of instilling in clients the need for compliance. Using qualitative interview data, this paper explores how low and moderate-income women in a US state understand their waits for public benefits; how those understanding shape their responses to the wait; and what those responses tell us about waiting as a form of social control as it is negotiated between the parties. Despite describing the process of obtaining benefits as one of "waiting it out," women ascribe different meanings to their waits and take action based upon their assessments of the cause of the delay, the complexity of the situation, and past experiences with public bureaucracies. These approaches allow women to assert some control over a situation in which so much is out of one's control.

DOI:10.1177/1473325015606188 (Full Text)

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