The Stigma of Charity: Gender, Class, and Disaster Assistance

  • Fothergill A
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This article examines the stigma associated with needing and receiving assistance after a natural disaster. I conducted a qualitative. longitudinal study of women who survived the 1997 Grand Forks, North Dakota, flood. Based on sixty in-depth interviews and observation, the data show the ways in which the stigma affected these women when they had to accept charity, many of them for the first time in their lives. Factors that played a role include the self-sufficient culture of North Dakota, the caregiving role of giving and self-sacrifice, the experience of downward mobility and loss of middleclass status, the utilization of impression management techniques, and the ways in which the women shifted their former views of poor people and welfare recipients. I conclude with a discussion of how the examination of the stigma of charity illuminates thc construction of class, gender, and race in white, middle-class consciousness.

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  • Alice Fothergill

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