Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Deborah L. Crooks


This ethnographic research examines the social service encounter between private providers and child recipients involved in a faith-based afterschool program located in a southern US city. I specifically focus on the tensions and divisions that developed between staff members and participating families in daily programmatic interactions and rhetoric. I highlight how race, class, and gender intersected with age to shape children’s different experiences of the afterschool program and their lives beyond the agency. I also show how these social categories converged in local stories of religious poverty relief, which build upon cultural narratives about American welfare, to blind staff to the realities of children’s lives. These issues resulted in a program where staff members sought to transform children away from imagined social ills they associated with guardians to ideologically and programmatically isolate children from their families. I explore these conditions to draw attention to some of the ways structural inequalities can be reproduced and maintained in private service provision. It is in this context that I examine the increasing prominence of faith-based organizations within domestic poverty policy and relief services.

Included in

Anthropology Commons