In recognition of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Center for Poverty & Inequality Research will be hosting a welcome back event with special guest David Brady of UC Riverside. Following Professor Brady’s talk, we will be hosting breakout sessions for informal conversation and continued discussion.
“Poverty, Not the Poor”
Scholars, commentators, politicians and the public tend to think about American poverty as a ‘problem of persons.’ The poor are in poverty because of individuals’ bad behavior, risks, pathological cultures, or innate traits. This leads us to concentrate on the poor as individuals and distracts us from the systemic problem of high poverty in the U.S. The Right tends to focus on behavior and culture, mistakenly arguing that fixing behavior, eliminating risks, and improving culture would substantially reduce poverty. The Left tends to focus on emotive selections of poor people, exotifying and mischaracterizing the population in poverty. Several examples from recent research will be presented to show how both the Right and the Left focus on the poor and misunderstand poverty. Political and structural theories of poverty will be advanced as a better way to understand poverty and not just the poor.