An understanding of the present social welfare system in America can be obtained through a historical analysis of the early forms of welfare and the changes they have undergone. A knowledge of this evolution is essential because some of the fundamental premises of past welfare systems continue to underlie the most basic forms of welfare policy which have been implemented into the American system. Historically, the policies which have been developed reflect societal attitudes and values. However, such an analysis indicates that attitudes toward public assistance recipients have not changed greatly. Codes that recognize the value of the individual responsibility and effort have influenced the evolution of public assistance policies. Individualistic ideologies have been perpetuated through socialization which takes place in the social order, facilitating the maintenance of the status quo. Therefore, socioeconomic status would have an impact on attitudes toward public assistance. A Marxian projection would agree that socioeconomic status is related to welfare attitudes; proposing that the higher the socioeconomic status, the greater the opposition to welfare. However, this relationship proves to be inaccurate in a modified, capitalist system. There is little difference in attitudes toward welfare relative to socioeconomic status, making the possibility of a welfare policy developed upon class consciousness unfeasible. The opposition to social welfare, regardless of class, could have major repercussions on future social policy decisions in America.


Stroup, Atlee


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150



© Copyright 1989 Tina A. Schaefer