You are cordially invited to luncheon with the Oneonta Faculty Convivium on Wednesday, March 23, noon to 1:00 p.m., in Le Café, Morris. Elizabeth Seale, Assistant Professor of Sociology, will present a talk titled, “Relational Autonomy and Poverty: Low-Income Rural White Women in South Central NY”.
Abstract: Rural service providers often encounter clients who live in poverty and who additionally experience challenges that inhibit their ability to make decisions about the course of their lives. In this talk, I will attempt to reframe these challenges from being individual problems to thinking of them as problems inhabiting the relational. Ultimately, expressions of autonomy or experiences of limits to autonomy are relational matters, and better understood as such rather than as characteristics of individuals that need to be changed. For instance, being too intimidated by a physician to ask for clarification is less about the individual (i.e., being somehow more susceptible to intimidation as an individual) and more about the context in which an interaction occurs. In our assessments of the lives of the poor, people in general—not just service providers—too often find justification for their lesser status, alienate them further, and fail to make connections that could otherwise empower those who are economically insecure. I draw from interviews with a dozen women living in poverty in Delaware and Otsego counties in addition to case files and observations to examine the ways in which these women struggle to exercise autonomy in their lives, particularly in reference to family planning and health. The troubles of the poor, as they describe them and as I analyze them, come down to relational challenges, not merely individual problems such mental health issues, addiction, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, lack of social skills, etc. It is how we relate to the poor and how they find themselves relating to other people that render these issues real roadblocks to autonomous decision-making.
Seating is limited. To reserve a seat please call X2517 prior to March 21 Vegetarian meals are available.
To view the picture: Low Income Lecture Picture