Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Edward Haley

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© 2014 Noah Jay


Rural poverty has been characterized as invisible. This has been true since Michael Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath in 1939. Building upon this characterization this thesis explores six pathways out of rural poverty in relation to the particular quality of invisibility. This study reviews scholarly literature and federal policy, as well as adds new interviews focused on a case study of Mecca and Thermal, two small, unincorporated communities in California’s Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV). Through these techniques I found that rural poverty is characterized by a unique invisibility and that although there are certain pathways out of this poverty, these pathways are unlikely, temporary, and too insubstantial to make significant change.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.