Assessment 3: The Portfolio

Reading Log 1
Use this framework to help you take notes as you read.

Author’s name
Kay Cook, Andrew Noblet
Date of publication
Title of article/chapter
Job satisfaction and welfare to work is any job a good job for Australian single mothers?
Title of book or journal
Australian Journal of social issues
Australian council of social services
Place of publication
Volume number
Date accessed
19 October 2015
Key words
Welfare to work, single parents, job satisfaction, employment, and parental distress.

Description of topic
The article looks into the new welfare structure for single mothers asking the question: is any job a good job for Australian single mothers? This article set out to examine the job satisfaction of employed Australian single parents, who had mandatory employment.

Perspective presented
Does the author condemn or commend the issue?

The author’s perspective in this article is that while they agree with single parents getting back into the work force, they condemn government’s assumptions, that any job is a good job.

Discuss contributing reasons and evidence the author offers

The article argues that work for the dole does not increase well-being and solve unemployment. The argument is based on the findings of a quantitative study of sole-parent mothers who said that work for the dole led to employment in jobs that had low job security, low pay and inconsistent hours of work that created anxiety for the mothers. Mental health issues contributed quite negatively to the overall well-being of the participants.

Quotes (maximum 2)
‘In addition to parental distress, casual employment was negatively associated with several
dimensions of worker satisfaction, including satisfaction with job security, hours of work and overall
satisfaction’ (Cooke and Noblet 2012, p. 212).

Methods used (if applicable)
Is it qualitative or quantitative?
What is the sample size?
How is the data analysed?

A qualitative study was carried out using a self-report questionnaire. The questionnaire was distributed to individuals who responded to an advertisement placed in local papers around Melbourne. The final sample was narrowed down to 155 single mothers of school aged children
who were actively participating in the welfare-to-work program.
To assist the comparisons with job satisfaction, income and labor figures as well as parenting stress, the data from the questionnaires was compared with the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey and the Parenting Stress Index – Short Form (PSI-SF). The application of the data to these additional surveys meant that the findings could be considered reliable as these surveys have been widely accepted and acknowledged in the academic community.

Strengths and weaknesses to justify the argument
Contribution to the field?
Argument and evidence?
Writing style?

Significance and contribution to the field:
Strength: This contributes new knowledge to the field as it is the first study to examine the job satisfaction of Australian single mothers receiving income support with mandatory employment requirements. The study included participants who, ‘contrary to popular characterizations’ had a
mean age of 41.75, most had less than two children and just over half had a post-school qualification. The broader implications of the research are that the study could influence how workplaces and policy makers (as well as the government) think about job retention, welfare dependency and women’s mental health.
Argument and Evidence:
Strength: The argument is consistent and strong throughout the article that the job satisfaction for single mothers is low in relation to the work for the dole program. The authors provide a strong context regarding the need for such research in the literature review section (although much of the current research has been based on the US welfare system and its impact on single parents). The results of the survey clearly show that there is low job satisfaction which links to job security and parental distress.
Weakness: The inclusion of further Australian literature on the topic would have strengthened the overall argument, rather than relying on American studies.
Research methods and methodology:
Strength: The authors were transparent about the recruitment process as well as most of the characteristics of their participants. The authors recruited the participants anonymously by placing advertisements in free local newspapers, posters displayed in community centres and neighborhood houses and online newsletters such as those distributed by the Council for Single Mothers and their Children. The participants were posted out the questionnaire which was completed and then returned.
Weakness: In spite of the transparency, the authors do not include the ethnicity of the participants. We are not aware of whether there were a diversity of views represented in the study, according to ethnic group.
Weakness: Given the participants were posted out the questionnaire and completed it without the supervision of the researchers, one could question whether the questionnaire was actually completed by the intended participant.
Weakness: A sample size of 155 for a quantitative study could be considered quite small as the researchers have greater potential to question a larger number of people by distributing a survey, rather than conducting interviews.
Writing style and structure:
Strength: The writing style of the article meets academic conventions as it adopts the required academic, formal tone. The articles uses some specialized vocabulary, particularly in discussing the quantitative research methods. The article is well structured and fulfils the expectations of a journal article in terms of featuring the required sections; Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review,
Research Methods, Findings/Discussion, Conclusion.
Weakness: The central/core findings of the research could have been easier to identify if the authors has arranged the findings/Discussion section differently into ‘themes’ with the associated figure included.

Personal Reflection Questions:
These are to be completed, but not put on your mind map.

Do you agree or disagree with the ideas and why?
I agree with the argument in the article as the evidence provided confirms that single mothers’ place importance of jobs that fit in with the needs of their children and offer stability, which contradicts the notion that any job is a good job.
How do the ideas relate to your life experiences or practical knowledge?
I recall how the move to Newstart impacted on my friend who is a single mother. She found it difficult to find appropriate work that allowed her to prioritize her children’s needs and would not apply for jobs that did not fit within school hours.
What questions do the argument/ideas raise for you?
Although I think it is important for abled people to actively participate in the workforce, I feel the policy around single parents is too harsh.

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