When the Sidewalks End: Poverty and Isolation in an American Suburb

A PSC Brown Bag Seminar

Alexandra Murphy

Monday, 03/14/2016.   ARCHIVED EVENT

Location: 6050 ISR Thompson St

For the first time in American history, the greatest share of people living below the poverty line reside in the suburbs. Despite this dramatic transformation in the geography of poverty, we know very little about the everyday lives of poor suburban residents or the community contexts in which they live. Drawing on three and a half years of fieldwork in one suburb experiencing rising poverty, this talk examines how the suburban built environment, transportation, and troubles with trust shape low income people's social networks, neighboring, as well as their ability to draw on these networks to make ends meet. The talk also considers how these dynamics are different and similar to those in urban poor neighborhoods and what suburban poverty can teach us about how we conceptualize the relationship between poverty, space, and isolation.


Alexandra K. Murphy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Faculty Associate of the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. Her work draws on ethnographic methods to interrogate questions related to poverty and inequality. One line of work examines the new suburban poverty, focusing on the everyday lives of low income people in the suburbs and the community context in which they live. A new line of research examines transportation insecurity. Murphy is co-editor of The Urban Ethnography Reader. Prior to joining the faculty she was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Poverty Center. She received her PhD in Sociology & Social Policy from Princeton University.

PSC Brown Bag seminars highlight recent research in population studies and serve as a focal point for building our research community. PSC Brown Bag Archive.

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