Lucy A. Williams, Linda M. Burton
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Law and Public Policy Program
sociology, public policy, household composition, housing, low-income, poverty, resource theory, subsidized housing
Public Affairs | Public Policy | Social Welfare | Urban Studies
This study investigated how housing assistance and household composition shaped access to material, instrumental, and symbolic resources for 23 low-income African-American, European-American, and Latina mothers in Boston who were living in subsidized housing. The objectives were to describe how young mothers residing with their natal families, mothers cohabiting with a male partner, and lone mothers acquired resources through members of their households; and to discover the role of housing-assistance access and regulations in mediating these resource flows.
Using a resource theory framework to examine interpersonal exchanges revealed that symbolic resources of status and information were important complements to material and instrumental resources in shaping the women's efforts to achieve well-being and economic mobility. The processes of distributing these resources varied in the different household configurations, forming distinctive patterns. The patterns were seen in qualities of the women's household membership, their efforts to regulate positive and negative resource flows, and their decisions in response to structural constraints, opportunities, and critical events. Patterns reflected varying priorities of developmental, social, and economic needs associated with the three types of household composition.
The study contributes to distinguishing how needs of low-income mothers and their families vary under differing social and institutional circumstances. Findings shed light on the complex functions of housing assistance as a resource for low-income mothers and their families. Such knowledge may inform policy design and practice by pointing to optimum selection and timing of assistance interventions.
The functions of housing assistance and household composition differed between respondents who were young mothers co-residing in the natal family, on the one hand, and cohabiting and lone-mother respondents, on the other. These differences were seen in each of the three household composition and resource processes identified in the study: membership, resource flows, and agency.
Marya Leroy Dantzer
Dantzer, Marya Leroy, "Place, face, space: how housing assistance and household composition shape low-income mothers' access to resources" (2012). Law and Public Policy Dissertations. Paper 4. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20002467
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