Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)



First Advisor

Rosemary Link

Second Advisor

Marie McNeff


This study examines which personal and systemic factors precipitate a relatively productive or nonproductive relationship between a rural Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipient and her financial worker. Financial workers are the primary contact within county social services agencies for recipients of AFDC benefits. Recipients and workers are bound together hy a complex eligibility determination process that provides little incentive for recipient self-sufficiency, least of all in rural areas. This qualitative study is based on a triangular framework of focus groups and guided interviews with 23 recipients, four financial workers and two gatekeeper professionals. Interview questions were based on emerging themes in two initial focus groups, composed of nine unduplicated recipient subjects. Major themes explored in focus groups and ensuing interviews were: attitudes, stereotypes, access to information, and implementation of AFDC rules. Four factors were identified as significant influences upon the recipient-worker relationship. These were: 1.) institutional rigidity, 2.) dehumanizing environment, 3.) incompatible realities, and 4.) internalized stereotypes. Because three factors are systemic, this study suggests that leadership must be exercised at several levels in order to increase the productivity of the relationship.


SC 11.MAL.1992.Cannon.DL