When Mamaw Becomes Mom: Social Capital and Kinship Family Formation amid the Rural Opioid Crisis

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Abstract

Amid the opioid crisis, the number of kinship families—or children living with relatives—has risen dramatically, particularly in rural communities. Using in-depth interviews with relative caregivers and local legal actors in Appalachian Kentucky, I consider how rural kinship families are formed. I demonstrate how relatives’ experiences depend on the social capital they hold with local legal actors who regulate kinship care. Whether a relative possesses positive, negative, or no social capital with these actors affects their ability to secure their ideal legal arrangement and the level of surveillance they must endure. These findings illuminate how seemingly rigid legal processes can reproduce inequalities in rural jurisdictions. In this case, the unequal distribution of legal-specific social capital precipitates different levels of stability and support afforded to rural kinship families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-98
Number of pages21
JournalRSF
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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