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The Contradictions of Caring: Social Workers, Teachers, and Attributions for Poverty and Welfare Reform


Gregg Robinson, Behavioral Science, Grossmont College, 8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Cajon, CA 92020. E-mail:


This paper examines the attitudes toward poverty and welfare reform of a sample of social workers and inner-city school teachers. More specifically, it focuses on the impact of poverty attributions on attitudes toward welfare reform among members of this sample. There is a mystery about attitudes toward welfare reform that the paper attempts to explain. These social workers and teachers rejected most of the 1996 changes to welfare, but they were surprisingly positive about the impact these reforms have on the families with whom they work. This contradictory set of beliefs is explained as a function of the family-oriented view of poverty that is peculiar to this group.