Dr. Mazelis is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, an affiliated scholar at Rutgers-Camden’s Center for Urban Research and Education (CURE), a Faculty Affiliate at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty, and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network; her key findings research brief can be found here and her interview with SSN’s No Jargon podcast can be found here. She serves as the co-leader of the Scholars Strategy Network’s New Jersey/Philadelphia chapter. She received her B.A. from Binghamton University of the State University of New York and her M.A. and her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Mazelis teaches Introduction to Sociology, Sociological Theory, Social Stratification, and Urban Sociology, and occasional courses on homelessness for the Honors College. She was in the inaugural cohort of Civic Engagement Faculty Fellows and received a Chancellor’s Award for Academic Civic Engagement in 2012.


Dr. Mazelis has specialized in the study of urban poverty and social ties, using qualitative interview methods to explore the meaning and understanding people have of their own situations. Her book with NYU Press, Surviving Poverty: Creating Sustainable Ties Among the Poor, is based on her research in Philadelphia. You can listen to her talk about her book in an interview with the New Books Network. She also authored an article on sustainable tie creation in a 2020 special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science: Do Networks Help People to Manage Poverty? Perspectives from the Field.

She co-wrote with the Census Bureau’s Laryssa Mykyta an article that appeared in Journal of Marriage and Family on the role of marital and relationship status in financial support from kin to new parents using survey data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). More recently she and Mykyta authored another article in Journal of Marriage and Family using the qualitative addition to the Fragile Families study, the Time, Love, and Cash in Couples with Children Study (TLC3) to explore how new parents talk about accessing and avoiding support from family. She has also published on the views of welfare-reliant women (with coauthors Ellen K. Scott, Kathryn Edin, and Andrew S. London), in the volume For Better and For Worse (Russell Sage, 2001).

The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States (2015), includes three contributions by Mazelis: one on social ties among the poor; one, coauthored with President of Campus Compact Andrew Seligsohn, on the consequences of deindustrialization and neoliberalism in Camden, New Jersey, the poorest city in America; and one, coauthored with Rutgers alumnus Brendan Gaughan, on poverty stigma and Occupy Wall Street rhetoric. She authored an article on reciprocity among the poor (Journal of Poverty), and her work with Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Rutgers-Camden, is published in Urban Studies (and profiled in The Atlantic’s CityLab) and in Social Indicators Research. She also authored an Oxford Bibliographic entry: “Welfare, Race, and the American Imagination,” with Stephen Pimpare.

Dr. Mazelis is currently engaged in a research project funded by the National Science Foundation, “The Cost of a College Degree: How Students Pay for College, the Unequal Transition to Adulthood, and the Transmission of Inequality,” with collaborator Arielle Kuperberg, Associate Professor at University of North Carolina-Greensboro. This is a mixed methods research project exploring the role of student loan debt in the college experience and future aspirations and expectations of graduating seniors, with a longitudinal component examining their transition out of college.


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