Lower social class does not (always) mean greater interdependence: Women in poverty have fewer social resources than working-class women, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Social resources (i.e., number and nature of relationships with family and friends) are an important, yet largely unrecognized, feature of the sociocultural contexts of social class that influence psychological functioning. To assess the nature and content of social resources, we conducted semistructured interviews with American women living in poverty (n = 21) and working-class (n = 31) contexts. In contrast to previous research, which demonstrates that lower social class contexts foster greater social connection and interdependence than middle-class or upper-class contexts, this study revealed that poverty constitutes a clear cutoff point at which reduced material resources no longer predict higher levels of social connection, but instead social isolation. Our interview data revealed that women in poverty had fewer connections to family and friends, experienced greater difficulty with trust, and reported more challenges involving relationships compared with working-class women. These findings extend psychological theories regarding how social class shapes psychological functioning and have important implications for understanding the maintenance and reproduction of poverty.
Nicole Stephens, Jessica Cameron, Sarah Townsend
Stephens, Nicole, Jessica Cameron, and Sarah Townsend. 2014. Lower social class does not (always) mean greater interdependence: Women in poverty have fewer social resources than working-class women. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 45(7): 1060-1072.