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Getting Ahead: Social Mobility, Public Housing, and Immigrant Networks

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Graif, Corina. 2012. "Getting Ahead: Social Mobility, Public Housing, and Immigrant Networks." American Journal of Sociology, 117(4): 1253-1255.

Getting Ahead tells the compelling stories of Latin-American immigrant women living in public housing in two Boston-area neighborhoods. Silvia Dominguez argues that these immigrant women parlay social ties that provide support and leverage to develop networks and achieve social positioning to get ahead. Through a rich ethnographic account and in-depth interviews, the strong voices of these women demonstratehow they successfully negotiate the world and achieve social mobility through their own individual agency, skillfullynavigating both constraints and opportunities.

Dominguez makes it clear that many immigrant women are able to develop the social support needed for a rich social life, and leverage ties that open options for them to develop their social and human capital. However, she also shows that factors such as neighborhood and domestic violence and the unavailability of social services leave many women without the ability to strategize towards social mobility. Ultimately, Dominguez makes important local and international policy recommendations on issue ranging from public housing to world labor visas, demonstrating how policy can help to improve the lives of these and other low-income people.

Country of focus: United States of America.

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