Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael V. Angrosino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James C. Cavendish, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Donileen R. Loseke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alvin W. Wolfe, Ph.D.


charitable choice, welfare reform, social policies, faith-based initiative


This dissertation research is a study of the anthropology of policy with welfare reform in general and charitable choice in particular as its focus. The study begins with the notion that policies work as instruments of governance and consequently have social and political implications. These policies are examined by exploring the manner in which Catholic Charities and policy makers in Florida are responding to the charitable choice mandate and how their views are shaping local policies.

The study is framed within anthropological principles pertaining to economic, humanistic and philosophical tenets. The study provides a historical background of poverty, the development of the welfare state in the United States as well as some of the social, economic, and political factors that shape social policies.

Data were collected through semi-structured interviews conducted with representatives from Catholic Charities, government agencies, legislative committees, and faith-based organizations, and through document reviews. Data were analyzed qualitatively and were managed using the software Atlas.ti. Analysis of the data show that while there is increased convergence between the state and faith-based organizations (FBOs), there is some hesitancy on the part of religious organizations to assume full responsibility for the poor, particularly without having any funding guarantees. The data also suggests that through the implementation of charitable choice religious organizations face the risk of becoming highly dependent on the state and therefore loose their voice and the possibility of lobbying for the poor. Furthermore, the data suggests that there are some aspects of the implementation of charitable choice that have not received congressional approval and may eventually jeopardize the entire faith-based initiative.