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Cost of Being Poor, The

A Comparative Study of Life in Poor Urban Neighborhoods in Gary, Indiana

Sandra L. Barnes

Publication Year: 2005

While the negative effects of urban poverty are well documented, the everyday experiences of urban residents are often absent or secondary in urban studies research. The Cost of Being Poor rectifies this problem by examining both the noneconomic and the often-overlooked economic costs faced by residents of poor urban neighborhoods in Gary, Indiana. Using census, regional, and local data, and in-depth interviews with the residents of Gary, Sandra L. Barnes argues that many people incur costs resulting from the dual dilemma of being poor and residing in a poor urban area. She explores how factors such as race/ethnicity, neighborhood type, and location influence residents’ views, coping strategies, and unconventional approaches toward making ends meet. Well written and accessible, this study of Gary’s poor urban neighborhoods offers broad findings that apply to other similarly impoverished Rust Belt cities.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, The New Inequalities


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Title page, copyright page

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix

List of Tables

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p. xi

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p. xiii

Several persons and groups made significant contributions to this book. I wish to thank the Purdue University School of Liberal Arts Development Fund, the Purdue University Research Fund, and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Purdue University for providing research grants for these efforts. ...

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Introduction: Structure vs. Agency and the Poor Urban Experience:

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pp. 1-10

Urban poverty and its deleterious effects are well documented. In studies, urban poverty is associated with economic, social, and in some instances, cultural challenges that undermine upward mobility, engender angst and crime, and ravage neighborhoods. In other literature urban poverty is characterized ...

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Chapter 1. The Economics of the Poor Urban Experience

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pp. 11-30

The topic of neighborhood poverty concentration effects can best be characterized as an overarching research framework in the study of urban poverty rather than a sociological theory in the strictest sense. Much of the research on national and local structural changes and their related urban consequences have been supplanted ...

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Chapter 2. Space Usage and Cost Differentials in Gary, Indiana: Counting the Costs

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pp. 31-49

Gary’s history as a leading steel manufacturer, regional retail site, and employment mecca for conscientious racial and ethnic minorities and White immigrants stands in stark contrast to current conditions. The city’s evolution speaks to the theme of “structure and agency,” when one considers the interplay ...


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pp. 50-66

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Chapter 3. Differential Goods and Services to Feed a Family: Who Pays the Costs?

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pp. 67-94

The day-to-day challenges and choices in urban settings are directly correlated with historical and current structural changes. As presented earlier, factors such as globalization, the shift from manufacturing to service occupations, out-migration of workingclass and middle-class families, both African American and White, ...

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Chapter 4. Differential Goods and Services to Clothe a Family: Who Pays the Costs?

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pp. 95-120

Much of the research on economic problems in urban areas focuses on the broader implications of being without financial security, rather than specifically how residents use their limited funds. With the exception of research by Edin and Lein (1991, 1996), Jarrett (1994), Chaisson (1998) and several others,1 less attention ...

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Chapter 5. A Tale of Three Families: Impracticality Costs

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pp. 121-164

Scholars have discovered the research benefits of first person narratives to augment traditional empirical studies. In the groundbreaking ethnography by Liebow (1967), the reader is transported into the day-to-day experiences of the central character, Tally, and in doing so, comes to better understand the challenges ...

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Chapter 6. Sociopsychological Implications of Exposure to Poverty-related Constraints: Coping with the Costs

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pp. 165-190

The daily round for most respondents appears similar to that of many heads-of-households. Activities center on attempts to make practical decisions and purchases to meet housing, clothing, and subsistence needs relative to household economic constraints; juggling multiple tasks within a finite period; and making ...

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Conclusion: A Thesis on the Poor Urban Experience: Validating Experiences

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pp. 191-216

Much of recent research in urban sociology has shifted its emphasis from descriptions of the urban experience to analyses of macro-level effects of urban poverty. Given the implications of deindustrialization, globalization, hyper-segregation, and the resulting social isolation, such research is warranted. ...


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pp. 217-226


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pp. 227-248


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pp. 249-262


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pp. 263-275

E-ISBN-13: 9780791483206
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791464670
Print-ISBN-10: 0791464679

Page Count: 289
Illustrations: 17 b/w photographs, 1 map, 12 tables
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: SUNY series, The New Inequalities
Series Editor Byline: A. Gary Dworkin See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 63168005
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Cost of Being Poor, The

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Subject Headings

  • Minorities -- Indiana -- Gary -- Social conditions.
  • Poverty -- Psychological aspects.
  • Gary (Ind.) -- Social conditions.
  • Poor -- Indiana -- Gary.
  • Minorities -- Indiana -- Gary -- Economic conditions.
  • Gary (Ind.) -- Economic conditions.
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