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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Hernandez, Diana
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2016

    Low-income families seeking housing must figure out how to make the most of a limited budget, while also trying to ensure their health and safety. This task is especially challenging given the inadequate housing choices and poor neighborhood conditions poor families face, so much so that the constrained decision-making itself may create or exacerbate health risks. This article illustrates how low-income families navigate and balance housing decisions, and the health implications of their choices. The qualitative study described here uses in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations to explore the links between housing, neighborhood, and health for 72 low-income families in the inner-city neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts. The low-income inner-city residents included in this study devised a variety of strategies in response to neighborhood safety risks, many of which led to them spending more time at home. This reliance on the home environment exposed residents to other health and safety risks within their homes. Based on results from the in-depth interviews as well...

    Low-income families seeking housing must figure out how to make the most of a limited budget, while also trying to ensure their health and safety. This task is especially challenging given the inadequate housing choices and poor neighborhood conditions poor families face, so much so that the constrained decision-making itself may create or exacerbate health risks. This article illustrates how low-income families navigate and balance housing decisions, and the health implications of their choices. The qualitative study described here uses in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations to explore the links between housing, neighborhood, and health for 72 low-income families in the inner-city neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts. The low-income inner-city residents included in this study devised a variety of strategies in response to neighborhood safety risks, many of which led to them spending more time at home. This reliance on the home environment exposed residents to other health and safety risks within their homes. Based on results from the in-depth interviews as well as ethnographic observations, I propose two alternate approaches that may more effectively address the conditions poor families face in their homes and neighborhoods. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Mazelis, Joan Maya
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2015

    Norms of reciprocity partially govern social support behavior, particularly in the context of an organization requiring participation in an exchange network. This article focuses on ethnographic interviews with 25 members of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU). The social capital KWRU offers members helps them survive, but members can find reciprocity obligations onerous. Reciprocity fosters social capital for those who fulfill norms of reciprocity and hinders social capital for those who violate them. Reciprocity provides an avenue for involved members to build social capital crucial to survival, while it becomes a burden too great for some members to bear. (author abstract)

    Norms of reciprocity partially govern social support behavior, particularly in the context of an organization requiring participation in an exchange network. This article focuses on ethnographic interviews with 25 members of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU). The social capital KWRU offers members helps them survive, but members can find reciprocity obligations onerous. Reciprocity fosters social capital for those who fulfill norms of reciprocity and hinders social capital for those who violate them. Reciprocity provides an avenue for involved members to build social capital crucial to survival, while it becomes a burden too great for some members to bear. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Speirs, Katherine E.; Vesely, Colleen K.; Roy, Kevin
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2015

    Recent research has drawn attention to the deleterious effects of instability on child development. In particular, child care instability may make it hard for children to form secure attachments to their care providers which may have a negative impact on their development and school readiness. These effects seem to be heightened for low-income children and families. However, there remains a lack of clarity regarding how and why low-income mothers make changes to their child care arrangements. Using ethnographic data from Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three City Study, this study explored 36 low-income mothers' experiences of child care instability and stability and the factors that promoted each. We identified four kinds of child care transitions: planned, averted, failed, and forced. Financial resources, transportation and the availability of care during the hours that mothers work were important for helping mothers find and maintain preferred care arrangements. Our findings have implications for research on child care instability as well as the development of policy and...

    Recent research has drawn attention to the deleterious effects of instability on child development. In particular, child care instability may make it hard for children to form secure attachments to their care providers which may have a negative impact on their development and school readiness. These effects seem to be heightened for low-income children and families. However, there remains a lack of clarity regarding how and why low-income mothers make changes to their child care arrangements. Using ethnographic data from Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three City Study, this study explored 36 low-income mothers' experiences of child care instability and stability and the factors that promoted each. We identified four kinds of child care transitions: planned, averted, failed, and forced. Financial resources, transportation and the availability of care during the hours that mothers work were important for helping mothers find and maintain preferred care arrangements. Our findings have implications for research on child care instability as well as the development of policy and programs to help low-income families secure high quality child care and maintain stable employment. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Garrett-Peters, Raymond ; Burton, Linda M.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2015

    A common assertion in the family science literature is that low-income single mothers are increasingly retreating from marriage but still vaunt it as their ultimate relationship goal. To explain this paradox, scholars frequently cite inadequacies in men's marriageability, financial instability, and conflictual romantic relationships as primary forces in mothers' decisions not to marry. We propose an alternative reasoning for this paradox using symbolic interactionist theory and perspectives on poverty and uncertainty. Specifically, we highlight the contradictions between what women say about their desires to marry and what they actually do when the opportunity presents itself. We use exemplar cases from a longitudinal ethnographic study of low-income rural mothers to demonstrate our reasoning. Implications for future research and theory development are discussed. (author abstract)

    A common assertion in the family science literature is that low-income single mothers are increasingly retreating from marriage but still vaunt it as their ultimate relationship goal. To explain this paradox, scholars frequently cite inadequacies in men's marriageability, financial instability, and conflictual romantic relationships as primary forces in mothers' decisions not to marry. We propose an alternative reasoning for this paradox using symbolic interactionist theory and perspectives on poverty and uncertainty. Specifically, we highlight the contradictions between what women say about their desires to marry and what they actually do when the opportunity presents itself. We use exemplar cases from a longitudinal ethnographic study of low-income rural mothers to demonstrate our reasoning. Implications for future research and theory development are discussed. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Edin, Kathryn; Shaefer, H. Luke
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2015

    Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna, in Chicago, have gone for days with nothing to eat other than spoiled milk.

    After two decades of groundbreaking research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before — households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin, whose deep examination of her subjects’ lives has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones), teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on surveys of the incomes of the poor. The two made a surprising discovery: the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million American households, including about three million children. 

    But the fuller story remained to be told. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? What do they do to survive? In search of answers, Edin and Shaefer traveled across the country to speak with families living in this extreme poverty...

    Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna, in Chicago, have gone for days with nothing to eat other than spoiled milk.

    After two decades of groundbreaking research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before — households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin, whose deep examination of her subjects’ lives has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones), teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on surveys of the incomes of the poor. The two made a surprising discovery: the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million American households, including about three million children. 

    But the fuller story remained to be told. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? What do they do to survive? In search of answers, Edin and Shaefer traveled across the country to speak with families living in this extreme poverty. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. Not just a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality. (author abstract)

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