Learning about Barriers to Economic Mobility

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on March 29, 2022

Nazli Kibria, a sociology professor at Boston University, and Karen V. Hansen, a sociology professor at Brandeis, collaborated on the Cascading Lives Project, “a website and digital toolkit that shares people’s stories and experiences of downward mobility.” Through storytelling, Kibria and Hansen explore the concept of cascading events that lead to subsequent crises, whether social, personal, or financial. They interviewed a professionally and racially diverse sample of more than thirty people, predominantly in Massachusetts and Georgia, in the hospitality industry on three separate occasions over a year to capture their experiences with the economic damage created by the pandemic. The qualitative data they gathered in the digital toolkit is intended to start a dialogue about economic inequality and mobility in high school and college classrooms. The Cascading Lives Project is also creating an educational resource website with learning materials and modules for high school teachers and possibly college courses. With this work, Kibria and Hansen hope to “encourage young adults to change public opinions and negative stereotypes about poverty.”

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