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Penn IUR is affiliated with more than 200 experts in the field of urbanism. Its Faculty Fellows program identifies faculty at the University of Pennsylvania with a demonstrated interest in urban research; the Penn IUR Scholars program identifies urban scholars outside of Penn; and the Penn IUR Fellows program identifies expert urban practitioners. Together, these programs foster a community of scholars and encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration.

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Faculty Fellow

Roberta Iversen

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Associate Professor

About

Roberta Iversen is Associate Professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice. She uses ethnographic research to extend knowledge about economic mobility, especially in urban families who are working but still poor and recently in exurban middle-income families as well. Her ethnographic accounts illuminate what low-income working parents need from secondary schools, job training organizations, businesses and firms, their children’s public schools, and public policy in order to earn enough to support their families through work. Housing policy in Milwaukee, WI and workforce development programs and policy in New Orleans, LA, Seattle, WA, St. Louis, MO, and Philadelphia, PA have been improved by findings from Iversen’s research. Iversen is also working on a book manuscript, tentatively called Everyday Works in the Land of (Limited) Opportunity. . The book, based on qualitative research she has conducted since the 1980s, examines the experiences of individuals and families with labor-market work in relation to changes in the labor market over time. It concludes by proposing new ideas about “work”—including redefining what counts as “work” in the U.S.

Selected Publications

Parsons Leigh, J., A. Gauthier, R.R. Iversen, S. Luhr, L. and Napolitano. 2016. “Caught in between: Neoliberal rhetoric and middle-income families in Canada and the United States.” Journal of Family Studies.

Iversen, R. R., L. Napolitano, and F. F. Furstenberg. 2011. “Middle-income Families in the Economic Downturn: Challenges and Management Strategies over Time.” Longitudinal and Life Course Studies: International Journal 2(3): 286-300.

Iversen, R. R. and A. L. Armstrong. 2008. “Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans: What Might an Embeddedness Perspective Offer Disaster Research and Planning?” Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 8(1): 183-209.

Iversen, R. R. and A. L. Armstrong. 2006. Jobs Aren’t Enough: Toward a New Economic Mobility for Low-income Families. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Iversen, R. R. 2002. Moving Up is a Steep Climb. Baltimore, MD: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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