Webinar: Exploring Social Poverty: A Webinar Discussion of the Impact of Family and Community Ties for Low-Income Populations

On this December 3, 2019 webinar, author and Associate Professor, Sarah Halpern-Meekin, explored the question of whether the lack of close, meaningful social ties is a public – rather than just a private – problem in our society in her newly published book “Social Poverty: Low-Income Parents and the Struggle for Family and Community Ties”. This book provides a window into the nature of social ties among low-income, unmarried parents, highlighting their often-ignored forms of hardship. During this webinar Halpern-Meekin presented on her ground-breaking work, which explores poverty from a new angle that departs from typical poverty literature and explores social ties not just as an economic issue, but its own condition that also perpetuates poverty. Discussants, Amanda Kostman, from UW-Madison Division of Extension, Margie Zutter and Diana Jost from Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Dane County, and Johnna Georgia, Program Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, spoke about their experiences in developing and providing services to address these issues of “social poverty”.

Social Poverty by Sarah Halpern-Meekin

About the book from NYU Press: Could a lack of close, meaningful social ties be a public—rather than just a private—problem? In Social Poverty, Sarah Halpern-Meekin provides a much-needed window into the nature of social ties among low-income, unmarried parents, highlighting their often-ignored forms of hardship. Drawing on in-depth interviews with thirty-one couples, collected during their participation in a government-sponsored relationship education program called Family Expectations, she brings unprecedented attention to the relational and emotional dimensions of socioeconomic disadvantage. Poverty scholars typically focus on the economic use value of social ties—for example, how relationships enable access to job leads, informal loans, or a spare bedroom. However, Halpern-Meekin introduces the important new concept of “social poverty,” identifying it not just as a derivative of economic poverty, but as its own condition, which also perpetuates poverty. Through a careful and nuanced analysis of the strengths and limitations of relationship classes, she shines a light on the fundamental place of core socioemotional needs in our lives.

 Engaging and compassionate, Social Poverty highlights a new direction for policy and poverty research that can enrich our understanding of disadvantaged families around the country.

Available now, Halpern-Meekin’s new book, Social Poverty: Low-Income Parents and the Struggle for Family and Community Ties, is available to order.