Neighborhoods, Temporal Constraints, and the Persistence of Poverty

103 McNeil
November 6, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
PhD Candidate
Princeton, Sociology & Social Policy
Speaker Biographies: 
Linsey Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and Social Policy. She is broadly interested in the processes that contribute to persisting trends in racial inequality and stratification. She focuses specifically on schools, neighborhoods, and bureaucratic institutions as critical contexts that reproduce inequality. In a paper titled “Homogeneity and Inequality” published in Social Forces, she examines the relationship between racial homogeneity in schools and racial inequality in school discipline. For her dissertation, she turns to neighborhoods and bureaucratic institutions, examining the time consequences of poverty and the role of neighborhoods in time allocation decisions for poor individuals and families. This is a multi-method project, including over two years of ethnographic fieldwork and analysis of national time diary data. Her scholarship has earned awards and support from the Princeton University Joint Degree Program in Social Policy, MDRC, Mathematica Policy Research, and Association of Black Sociologists. Social science has long established the detrimental consequences of residential segregation and concentrated poverty. These forces cluster people and disadvantage in space, creating conditions for differences in such things as neighborhood disinvestment, crime rates, and individual mobility. Yet, as people are sorted into neighborhoods according to characteristics like poverty or race, so too is how they use and experience time. The implications of this are not well understood. This research examines the spatial-temporal patterns of everyday life in neighborhoods by looking at time-use disparities. Edwards specifically examines how poverty and neighborhood conditions intersect to create particular kinds of time constraints that contribute to durable inequality and patterns of community life. Using mixed methods—analyses of nationally representative time diaries linked to ZIP codes and over two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Philadelphia—she demonstrates that neighborhood conditions create important, indirect pathways explaining time use among the poor. Edwards finds that disadvantaged neighborhoods exacerbate the precariousness of poverty for residents by exposing them to time constraints and uncertainties, particularly constant waiting/delay. Therefore, she argues, poor people in poor neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to stress related to conditions of temporal uncertainty that affect mobility and well-being, as well as neighborhood public life.