Uses case study narratives of marginalized adults in evaluating the move from welfare to work.
Working at the Margins describes and analyzes the move, from welfare rolls to paid employment, of adults who were marginalized from the mainstream by race, ethnicity, language, and economic status. Frances Julia Riemer utilizes ethnographic data gathered over two years from four workplaces that employed thirty seven former welfare recipients. She examines how the private sector accommodates these workers and their differences and how the workers themselves negotiate the barriers they experience. The book illustrates how government policies and adult-education initiatives, designed ostensibly to create opportunities, often reify existing inequalities.
Frances Julia Riemer is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University.
"These interesting interviews present many stories that will cause concern, but the successes in them will also be cause for celebration. " — Library Journal
"Riemer provides real insights into the process of moving from welfare to work and the often hidden biases of those in positions of power. By delineating the attitudes of all of the parties involved, the concrete circumstances of the workers' work and private lives and the reality of specific workplaces, this ethnographic study gets beyond the facile slogans about the nature of poverty, work, and individual responsibility to provide genuine insight about the problems people face in trying to change their lives. " — Ruth Sidel, author of Keeping Women and Children Last: America's War on the Poor
"The greatest contribution of the book lies in the closeness of its attention to the real situations at the workplace, as viewed by both low income workers and supervisors and co-workers. . . . It is extremely useful as a carefully nuanced, front-line study. " — Ann Withorn, author of Serving the People: Social Services and Social Change