The role of social support for women living in poverty

Matthew Archibald, Jennifer M Stewart, Linda Vo, Dazon Dixon Diallo, Waheedah Shabazz, Lauren E. Owens, Laura Randall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The many stressors brought on by poverty, as described in the chapters of this book, require coping mechanisms. The literature on coping is very large, and makes many distinctions-between passive and active coping; between blunting and monitoring; and between structural and functional social support. Social support supplies one of the broadest categories of coping options. Friends, family, and other sources of support can provide tangible resources, comforting emotional presence, and a feeling of “safety in numbers.” This chapter describes sources of support from entities external to the social network and within it-but also describes social relationships that can become additional sources of stress and pain when those relationships are dysfunctional. Some participants also described social isolation, to avoid danger or as a reaction to trauma and grief. Women, in addition to needing social support, are substantial suppliers of it-for their children, partners, friends, and other family. The receipt of additional support, from participation in clubs, churches, and after-school care for children, was perceived as a virtual lifesaver. Events like neighborhood cookouts were seen as enhancing community cohesion. In addition to all of these complex facets of human relationships, the chapter ends by proposing policy solutions such as programs designed to bridge community organization, services focused on family strengthening, and programs focused on developing coping mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPoverty in the United States
Subtitle of host publicationWomen's Voices
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319438337
ISBN (Print)9783319438313
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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