Urban Research Monitor
The Importance of Social Networks

Both publications stress the importance of social networks for escaping poverty. Duncan describes the way social isolation cuts off poor men and women in Blackwell and Dahlia from the networks that facilitate economic advancement in modern U.S. society. She is convinced that it is through social networks that people put together a cultural tool kit of skills, habits, and know-how that allows them to navigate through life. The more social networks they can access, the greater their chances for economic success.

Working Hard and Making Do makes a similar point about the relationship between social isolation and economic mobility. Nelson and Smith conclude that successful families are able to put together multifaceted survival strategies because they have broad networks of social support, which allow them to locate good jobs as well as carry out self-provisioning and entrepreneurial moonlighting projects. In contrast, poor families with fewer social networks can find their entire lives unraveling if one piece of their strategy falls apart.

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