Regina says she and her husband are pretty much in agreement on money matters as a whole:

Well, he makes the money, and he usually hands it over me and says, “Okay, go pay the bills” [laughs]. We’re pretty much in agreement. We do have little squabbles once in a while, when there’s something he wants, like a new movie or a new game. And I have to remind him, “Well, honey, we’ve got this and this and this to pay yet, and we’ve got these coming up, so do you really need it?” [laughs].

She goes on to explain, “Because we live paycheck-to-paycheck, and we struggle paying our bills. A lot of times we have to kinda juggle to keep one from calling and knocking at our door saying, ‘Okay, we’re gonna turn off your services.’ ” When it comes to their financial giving they are in agreement on not being able to afford it.


Regina’s parents did not really model giving, certainly not in a financial way. When we asked her, “To the best of your memory, did your parents voluntarily give money away to charity, religious organizations, nonprofits, people or causes?,” she replied, “No, not money. My mother, she donated time a lot of times to the church for, like at Christmas time, they’ll do the Christmas tree, where they—you pick a name of a needy child or family off a tree.” Regina said, “Other than going to church every day and volunteering for things like at Christmas time, no. I mean, she didn’t go every day to church. She went every Sunday, but she didn’t do, she wasn’t on the church council or committees.” Regina summarizes her parents’ overall generosity by saying, “Probably, on a scale of one to 10, maybe a three. One being not generous [laughs]. I mean, they would help people that really needed it, especially if it was family or somebody they’d already known, a close friend or something. But other than that, no.” When we ask how much influence their approach had on her, she says, “Probably quite a bit, cause I’m [laughing] kind of like that with the money too.”

Regina describes no other influences on her giving. Her low giving is normative within her web of affiliations and makes sense within that context. She and her affiliations are also embedded within a low-resourced social and physical context that further constricts her giving.

Deon Williams: Retiree Living It Up in Detroit in Residual Poverty Another of our cases with low relational support for giving is Deon Williams. True to form, Deon gave inconsistent responses on his survey regarding his web of affiliation, for example describing his spousal alignment as neutral despite not having a spouse. These kinds of inconsistencies between survey and interview answers, and even between different survey answers, speak to Deon’s generally nonreflective lifestyle. A number of times throughout the interview he commented on how challenging the questions were for him to answer, perhaps a reflection of his low education level (he has a high school degree), along with a lifetime of working in a blue-collar, male-dominant industry where conversations about lifestyle choices were not among coworker conversations.

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