Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation integrates the civic community perspective and structuralist and individualist perspectives of poverty to assess the relationships between civic community structures and family poverty outcomes. The key contribution of this project to the larger bodies of civic community and poverty research is the use of a multilevel framework that accounts for both community context and family characteristics in shaping family poverty outcomes. This objective is carried out through a series of multilevel analyses wherein religious and economic civic community structures are examined in relation to various conceptualizations of family-level poverty. The first analysis examines the associations between religious-based measures of civic community and family poverty experiences. Results indicate that the ecological context of religion within places is significant in understanding the poverty experiences of families. Specifically, multilevel models demonstrate the negative effect of Mainline Protestant and Catholic adherents on family poverty. Conversely, it is shown that Mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations have a positive effect on family poverty. The second analysis examines the influence of economic-based measures of civic community on family poverty outcomes. Results indicate that the economic climate of places is significant in understanding the poverty experiences of families. Specifically, multilevel regressions demonstrate negative relationships between small business establishments and family poverty outcomes. Conversely, regression results show that self-employed business persons share positive relationships with family poverty outcomes. Supplementary analyses highlight the significant moderating effect of aggregate socioeconomic status on the relationships between economic climate measures and specific family poverty outcomes. The third and final analysis combines both religious and economic indicators of civic community in the examination of family poverty outcomes. Results indicate that the presence of civic community structures within places is significantly related to family poverty. Specifically, multilevel regressions demonstrate that Mainline Protestant adherents and small business establishments are associated with less family poverty. However, Mainline Protestant congregations and economically independent business persons are associated with more family poverty. Again, additional analyses highlight significant interaction effects between aggregate socioeconomic status and economic climate measures on specific family poverty outcomes.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Slack, Tim



Included in

Sociology Commons