Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


College of Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Arlene B Andrews


This qualitative study, using grounded theory, examined how 19 low wage working women use global meaning to make sense of lived experiences with bill-paying hardships. Two themes with subthemes and corresponding meaning making processes emerged into a conceptual framework. The first theme is caring for others with subthemes of responsibility, isolation, and survival and a meaning-making process called the daily grind. The second theme is spirituality with subthemes of God, blessing, and God's plan with the meaning making process called the daily hope. The findings indicate that the women's global meaning influences how they respond to the imbalance between their low incomes and basic needs costs. Three implications are: the women need (1) long term social and economic support for their commitments to care for their households, (2) mutual aid to ease their sense of isolation; and (3) social and economic policies to enhance their hope for opportunities to increase assets over time.