Poverty, Place, and Time Constraints
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. I specifically examine 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—I demonstrate that neighborhood conditions create important, indirect pathways explaining time use among the poor. I find that disadvantaged neighborhoods exacerbate the precariousness of poverty for residents by exposing them to time constraints and uncertainties, particularly constant waiting/delay. Therefore, I argue, poor people in poor neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to stress related to conditions of temporal uncertainty that affect mobility and wellbeing, as well as neighborhood public life.
Linsey Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at Princeton University. She also has an M.A. in Sociology and Education from New York University. Linsey is broadly interested in understanding processes that contribute to persisting social inequality. She focuses specifically on schools, neighborhoods, and bureaucratic institutions as critical contexts. 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, investigating the time consequences of poverty and the role of neighborhoods in time allocation decisions for poor individuals and families. Linsey’s research has earned awards and support from Mathematica Policy Research, MDRC, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University,