Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Education and Human Services

Department/Program

Family and Child Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Pearl Stewart

Committee Member

Soyoung Lee

Committee Member

Tiffany L. Brown

Subject(s)

Low-income single mothers--United States, College students--Attitudes

Abstract

Poverty in the United States is a huge problem, and it becomes bigger each year, as millions of single mothers are the ones who are suffering the most. The debate on how to solve poverty has continued for a very long time. It has been fixed temporarily, but not completely remedied.

Literature: Attitudes are forecasters of how and why individuals take action in specific ways. Some people believe in social attributions (e.g., societal responsibility); others have confidence in individualistic attributions (e.g., a single person’s responsibility); and others rely on fatalistic attributions (e.g., luck). Individuals’ attitudes towards single mothers in poverty alter when people perceive the disadvantaged group as dissimilar to themselves.

Methods: This study was designed as a convenient sampling, examining the differences between students’ attitudes during single interviews. The intended aim of this study was to examine the attitude of college students at Montclair State University, located in the northeastern section of the United States, towards poor single mothers. Volunteer students were recruited from classes which deal with poverty and families. This is a qualitative study based on face-to-face interviews. The data were collected from 17 students who were interviewed with open-ended questions.

Findings: Students’ attitudes towards poor single mothers are based on four main themes: effect of stigmatization based on stigma as part of the cycle; factors that influence attitudes before taking the class, and change in attitude during the semester; higher education as a path out of poverty; and systematic support based on government intervention, employment availability, and awareness of resources. Direct quotes from participants and subthemes are given for every main theme to sustain the data. Findings show that participants taking courses in social issues such as poverty seem to be motivated to grasp a self-confident understanding of people in poverty in FCST445 which goes further than individualistic supremacy. Limitations and suggestions are discussed for future studies.

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