Surviving Poverty: Creating Sustainable Ties among the Poor by Joan Maya Mazelis
304 pages. ISBN: 9781479870080
Surviving Poverty carefully examines the experiences of people living below the poverty level, looking in particular at the tension between social isolation and social ties among the poor. Joan Maya Mazelis draws on in-depth interviews with poor people in Philadelphia to explore how they survive and the benefits they gain by being connected to one another. Half of the study participants are members of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, a distinctive organization that brings poor people together in the struggle to survive. The mutually supportive relationships the members create, which last for years, even decades, contrast dramatically with the experiences of participants without such affiliation.
Dr. Mazelis will be giving a CURE seminar to discuss her book on Friday, February 3 at 12:15pm. The event will take place in the 3rd Floor Faculty Lounge in Armitage Hall.
Please join us for this event (co-sponsored by CURE) on Friday at Princeton
by Paul A. Jargowsky
“Camden is solved,” New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno triumphantly proclaimed at a recent charity event. That’s funny, I thought, given that the city’s poverty rate hovers around 40 percent and its streets – where I had just gotten lost on the way to the elegant gala – are still filled with potholes, dilapidated housing, vacant lots and the ruins of former industrial sites. She was referring, however, to the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, which has doled out $1.3 billion in tax breaks over 10 years to selected companies who agree to move to the beleaguered city. But what will this massive program accomplish?
Recipients of the program’s generosity include Holtec International ($260 million), a manufacturer of small nuclear reactors; the car maker Subaru ($118 million); EMR Eastern ($253 million), which recycles metal; American Water Works ($164 million), a utility company; and the Philadelphia 76ers ($82 million), who recently held the grand opening for their new practice facility. Camden is clearly better off to have these companies building new facilities and moving their operations within city limits. All of these companies, however, are moving from nearby locations within Camden County or a neighboring county and are bringing most of their employees with them.
Various federal programs in the 1960s – including Kennedy’s anti-delinquency program, the War on Poverty, and Model Cities – funded large numbers of arts programs in America’s cities, often intending to provide job training for marginalized peoples or to bolster their chances of survival in modern urban society. But the process of federal grants almost inevitably defies intentions. Local community groups often put the money to different uses, re-imagining its purpose and what constituted “urban culture.”
Mark Krasovic is an assistant professor of history and American studies and interim director of the Clement A. Price Institute at Rutgers University-Newark. His first book, The Newark Frontier: Community Action in the Great Society, was published earlier this year.
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