About Alexandra K. Murphy

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the National Poverty Center at the University  of Michigan and a postdoctoral affiliate of the Population Studies Center (PSC) here. In 2012 I received my PhD from the Department of Sociology at Princeton University where I was was also a fellow in the Joint Degree Program in Sociology and Social Policy. 

My primary research interests include urban sociology, organizations, ethnographic methods, microsociology and social interaction, poverty and inequality, race, social policy, and culture.

Though I consider myself an urban ethnographer, for the past few years my interest in urban poverty has taken me to the suburbs where I have been using qualitative methods to study the new suburban poverty. I have written several articles on the topic and am currently working on my book, When the Sidewalks End: Poverty in an American Suburb, under contract with Oxford University Press. The book is an ethnographic community study of the social organization of poverty in one Pittsburgh suburb. It draws on three and a half years of fieldwork to examine the everyday lives of African American poor families and the organizational and political life of the suburban context in which they live. This work has been generously supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, the Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, and the Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy at Carnegie Mellon. It has also been featured in media outlets like The New York Times, Atlantic Cities, Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 

This fall, I am excited to be presenting findings from this work to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as to journalists from around the U.S. at the workshop"Covering Suburban Poverty," sponsored by the McCormick Foundation.

The Urban Ethnography Reader, which I have been co-editing with Mitchell Duneier and Philip Kasinitz, will be published this fall (2013) with Oxford University press.