Please join us for a colloquium being given by Linsey Edwards from Princeton University.
Poverty, Place and Time Constraints
Time is arguably the most valuable of resources. We all need it. We need time to work and to study. We need time to sleep, eat and exercise. We need time to invest in our relationships, to care for our children, and complete household tasks. In this presentation, I will argue that not everyone is able to convert time into activities that promote their wellbeing and mobility. Results from a nationally representative time diary study, combined with 2.5 years of ethnographic fieldwork in Philadelphia, provide evidence that economic hardship and neighborhoods conditions intersect to shape time use among poor individuals and households. Results will demonstrate that getting by with very little—particularly in the most disadvantaged of neighborhoods—requires significant time investment for uncertain outcomes, entails cost-benefit analyses about what important tasks (e.g., working that second shift on the job, submitting a housing application) must be postponed to tomorrow or next week, and needing to zigzag across space to achieve daily goals. At the same time, I will argue, conceptualizing time as only a resource, obscures important differences in how time is qualitatively experienced, not just differences in how it is allocated. I will explore some implications of these temporal constraints and experiences of everyday life for poor households, including exposure to stress, reductions in self-efficacy, and involvement in neighborhood public life.