Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lawrence R. Frey

Second Advisor

David Boromisza-Habashi

Third Advisor

Ben Kirshner

Fourth Advisor

Robert Craig

Fifth Advisor

Stephen Hartnett


This qualitative, ethnographic research study documented the use and effects of collective communicative practices (CCPs) employed by an organization, called Circles, that aims to create community among a group of diverse people from different socioeconomic classes, including those who currently live in poverty, for the purpose of aiding the efforts of those who are impoverished to move out of poverty. Using data collected from participant interviews, questionnaires, participant-observation, and Circles documents, the research findings suggest a new conception of the communication being promoted through Circles, called interactional capital, which describes the types of communication and other communicative resources that facilitate the creation and maintenance of social capital through interactions with others. The discussion chapter examines the nature and impact of interactional capital on participants at the individual, collective, and societal levels; and it explicates implications of the study, both theoretically--with respect to relationships among poverty, communication, and community--and practically, with regard to what lessons learned from this analysis suggest might be best practices for antipoverty programs, including Circles.