Online Program

Impact of incarceration on family formation and stability among marginalized minority youth in the American hyperghetto

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Pamela Erickson, DrPH, PhD, Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
The hyperghetto characterizes a population of surplus workers in U.S. inner cities who are permanently ascribed to marginal status in the globalized economy without access to education, resources, or opportunities that would secure them access to jobs that can support a family. This paper explores the structural effects of the hyperghetto on love, sex, and family formation at the local level. Data come from sexual and romantic life history interviews with 60 Puerto Rican and African American male and female young adults (age 18-25) in Hartford, CT in which we asked about participants' self-identified most important sexual and romantic relationships. These interviews revealed poignant, mundane, and instrumental contexts for sex, romance, and reproduction that are similar in many ways to those of other socioeconomic groups. What was strikingly different in the narratives was the impact of structural factors, particularly male incarceration (although females also reported incarceration), on families in the hyperghetto. Doing time for crime (mostly for drugs and theft), particularly for males, affected relationships with both children and their mothers, contributed to extra-relationship sex while the primary partner was incarcerated, and destabilized family relationships. The dual threats of joblessness, incarceration, and repeat incarceration, result in matri-centered families in the hyperghetto. I describe the sexual culture of inner city youth and explain how structural factors have shaped it.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain how high rates of incarceration young adults in the inner city affects sexual and romantic relationships and family formation.

Keyword(s): Sexual Behavior, Minorities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the Principal Investigator on the project on which I report in this paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.