Minority, Single Parent Families and Poverty

In 2004, Sandra Susan Smith joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology. Smith received a B.A. in History-Sociology from Columbia University in 1992 and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1998. From 1998 to 2000, she was a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Poverty Research and Training Center. After Michigan, Smith accepted a tenure-track position in the Department of Sociology at New York University where she remained until her move to the Bay Area.

Smith’s research interests include urban poverty, joblessness, race and ethnicity, social networks and social capital, trust, and culture and social structure.  In her new book, Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor (Russell Sage Foundation), Smith advances current and enduring debates about black joblessness, highlighting the role of interpersonal distrust dynamics between low-income black jobholders and their jobseeking relations that make cooperation during the process of finding work a problematic affair. In her current project, tentatively titledWhy Blacks Help Less, Smith further interrogates the process of finding work by examining racial and ethnic differences in trust dynamics and exploring the social psychological, cultural, and structural factors that generate these differences. In addition to Lone Pursuit, Smith has published a number of articles in such journals as the American Journal of Sociology, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Annual Review of Sociology, Racial and Ethnic Studies, Social Science Research, and The Sociological Quarterly.

Smith currently serves on the editorial board of the American Sociological Review and is a member of the ASA Council.  In the past, she was a consulting editor with the American Journal of Sociology and Context Magazine. She holds memberships with the American Sociological Association, the Association of Black Sociologists, and the International Network for Social Network Analysis.

In 2007, Smith was a recipient of the Hellman Family Faculty Fund, which supports the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their fields.  She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City and a Fellow at Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences (CASBS).

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