"Trapped in the Maze: Family Multi-Institutional Involvement, Poverty, and Inequality"
Family multi-institutional involvement and its influence on social inequality are relatively understudied phenomena. Using qualitative data from 2011-2017 on 63 primarily low-income families in NYC, this project analyzes how families’ experiences in social control institutions (e.g., courts, hospitals, child welfare, public assistance, schools) exacerbate inequality. Analyzing these experiences requires extending previous conceptualizations of family institutional involvement beyond one generation or household. In doing so, the project argues for a new perspective of social reproduction as an interactive phenomenon of organizational contexts, families’ unique institutional histories and families’ beliefs about those institutions. Unpacking this connection between families and institutions is imperative, given the growing emphasis on individual accountability in social control institutions and fraying social safety net in the US.
Leslie Paik is an associate professor of sociology at The City College of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests are youth, families, and law and society. Her scholarly works include Discretionary Justice: Looking Inside a Juvenile Drug Court (2011) from Rutgers University Press and journal articles in Theoretical Criminology, Law and Society, and Law and Social Inquiry. She currently is working on two research projects: the first focuses on how family multi-institutional involvement perpetuates social inequalities and the second addresses families’ experiences dealing with the fines and fees generated by their youth’s involvement in the juvenile justice system. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Arnold Ventures, and the PSC-CUNY Research Award Program.