In interviews, participants discuss their struggles and hardships, and their responses highlight the importance of cultivating relationships among people living in poverty. Surviving Poverty documents the ways in which social ties become beneficial and sustainable, allowing members to share their skills and resources and providing those living in similar situations a space to unite and speak collectively to the growing and deepening poverty in the United States. The study concludes that productive, sustainable ties between poor people have an enduring and valuable impact. Grounding her study in current debates about the importance of alleviating poverty, Mazelis proposes new modes of improving the lives of the poor. Surviving Poverty is invested in both structural and social change and demonstrates the power support services can have to foster relationships and build sustainable social ties for those living in poverty.
"Mazelis presents a well-written, deeply contextualized account of 50 individuals experiencing financial hardships and the decision-making practices that impact their daily struggles."
“The book… provides a compelling account of how KWRU members’ lives would likely have been worse without KWRU and that much of what KWRU provided was these sustainable ties.”
—American Journal of Sociology
"A compelling narrative of a remarkable poor people's movement that builds sustainable ties that are vital to survival while providing an antidote to crippling self-blame. This book is jam-packed with essential insights for anyone--scholars, students, practitioners, advocates--who cares about America's poor."
—Kathryn J. Edin, co-author of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
"Surviving Poverty eschews easy generalizations about how poor women manage their circumstances. In a richly detailed study, it paints a complex picture in which people differ widely in their attitudes about mobility and about getting help from others and in their use of social networks to manage the difficulties of poverty. Rejecting a narrative that blames the victim, Mazelis depicts people who exercise agency in their lives and whose complex attitudes about social support networks resist easy explanation. A must-read study for anyone concerned with policies that take into account the role of networks in how people manage poverty."
—Mario Luis Small, author of Unanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life
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