How are poverty, ethnicity and social networks related?

Social networks have been found to be beneficial for providing social support and opportunities for social participation. However, little is understood about how social networks affect material and economic wellbeing.

There is an assertion that social networks that are mixed, in terms of ethnicity or class, can be particularly economically beneficial because they provide links (or ‘bridges’) to people in positions of relative higher socioeconomic positions, which can improve access to knowledge about employment opportunities, important local services, resources and life chances.

This project tests these ideas, interrogating the compelling assertion of the benefits of mixed social networks.

This project uses the UK Household Longitudinal Study Understanding Society (UKHLS), particularly the Wave 3 (2011-2012) Social Networks Module.

This project, which is part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Poverty and Ethnicity Programme Phase 2 (January-November 2014), will provide results that can inform the targeting of initiatives to tackle poverty and ethnic inequalities. The project will reveal:

  • Which ethnic and income groups have mixed social networks 
  • Whether having mixed social networks reduces the likelihood of being poor
  • Whether having mixed social networks can alleviate disadvantages of living in a deprived neighbourhood 
  • Whether mixed social networks have an independent relationship with poverty and thus should be promoted as a means to build capital and move out of poverty.

Project website


  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Grant amount


Manchester people