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Making of a Teenage Service ClassPoverty and Mobility in an American City$
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Ranita Ray

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292055

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292055.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 30 July 2021

Sibling Ties

Sibling Ties

(p.41) 3 Sibling Ties
Making of a Teenage Service Class

Ranita Ray

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the complexities of sibling ties of the urban poor and highlights the relationship between exchange and intimacy under the constraints of poverty. It argues that located at the nexus of family and peer group, siblings play a unique role compared to peers, parents, extended family, teachers, or romantic partners. Sibling relations are a particularly important family arrangement within socioeconomically marginalized families: in such families, brothers and sisters regularly take on adult responsibilities and make contributions to the household. Older siblings help younger ones navigate school, work, neighborhood, and interactions with the police. Regular and obligatory exchange between siblings, however, often makes families unstable. The close analysis of kinship ties among Port City youth provided in this chapter challenges the simplistic preoccupation with exchange of resources (or absence thereof) within kinship systems by recognizing the costs of exchange on intimate relations, as well as accompanying emotional work. The exchange of resources within kinship networks often strain kinship ties, making them simultaneously resourceful and hostile. The family, thus, acts in paradoxical ways in the lives of the poor, providing support for upward mobility and acting as a place of hostility and conflict.

Keywords:   sibling ties, kinship ties, exchange and intimacy, paradox, emotional work

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