Fellowship: Rocca Dissertation Research
Fellowship Year(s): 2015
Project/Theme Title: Social Ties and Socio-economic Mobility in Ghana
Abstracts: A chorus of commentators has heralded Africa’s emerging middle class in recent years. However, norms of familial and community support across Africa create a paradox of upward mobility: as individuals ascend economically, they incur more obligations to friends, family, and community members. Focusing on Ghana, my dissertation asks how upwardly-mobile individuals grow, activate, or prune their social networks in order to balance the potential resources and prestige of broad networks with the risks they may entail. By combining an original social network survey with repeated in-depth interviews of poor, middle-class and wealthy Ghanaians, my project examines different social networking strategies, then explains how these strategies aggregate into broader patterns of social mobility. Engaging with an Africanist literature which largely assumes that broad social networks benefit individuals, I argue that upwardly-mobile individuals instead try to limit their ties to less-fortunate relations, leading to more socially-homogenous personal networks over time.
Fellowship: Rocca Pre-dissertation Research
Fellowship Year(s): 2012
Project/Theme Title: Migration aspirations and ICTs in West Africa