This course examines the structure and function of social networks in low-income communities. Informal social ties are an important source of information, support, status, and normative influence that can help low-income families cope with and move out of impoverished conditions. The course will examine social psychological and sociological approaches to studying informal helping systems, with particular attention to theories of social capital, social exchange/reciprocity, social support, and social networks. The course takes the view that there are benefits and liabilities of embeddedness in social networks, and we will examine the conditions and characteristics of social ties and networks that facilitate and complicate economic and social life in low-income communities. The course will expose students to an interdisciplinary and diverse set of readings, drawn from the fields of urban poverty studies, economic sociology, family studies, and social psychology.