Sorting out the various macro and micro causes of Black mothers’ downward residential mobility is extremely difficult, though past research has been fairly successful in identifying and explaining the mechanisms by which structural factors constrain Black residential change. The socio-historical context in which Black mothers operate, however, is largely ignored in these studies. We argue that past scholarship on Black women’s social history offers some helpful insights into the “residential desires and decision making” related to Black women’s social location. This paper pinpoints instances of downward residential mobility among a sample of disadvantaged Black mothers and works to elucidate both structurally- and culturally-related circumstances that help to explain them. In particular, it seeks to connect “residential desires and decision making” to sentiments Black women have had historically toward their family and community obligations. This study interweaves quantitative and qualitative data from the Baltimore Study, which traces the movement of disadvantaged Black mothers in and out of socioeconomic categories, including in and out of distressed neighborhoods over a 30-year period of their life course (approximately 1968-1996).

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Post-print Article

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Copyright © 2008 University of Illinois Press.

The definitive version is available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/blacwomegendfami.2.1.0025

Full Citation:

McDonald, Katrina Bell, and Bedelia Nicola Richards. "Downward Residential Mobility in Structural-Cultural Context: The Case of Disadvantaged Black Mothers." Black Women, Gender and Families 2, no. 1 (2008): 25-53.