11. Social Construction of Poverty: Media, Professionals and Public Opinion

Christian Albrekt Larsen, Centre for Comparative Welfare Studies, Department of Political Science, Aalborg University, Denmark, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dorota Lepianka, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies, University of Amsterdam,  the Netherlands, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The social construction of poverty constitutes an important aspect of a country’s welfare culture. Not only does it underpin the design of the country’s welfare system and determines the legitimacy of the country’s anti-poverty programmes, it also has a profound influence on how the country’s poor experience their own poverty and manoeuvre their way out of it. Still amidst studies on poverty measurement, dynamics, causes and consequences, inquiry into the social (re-)presentations of poverty, or symbolic aspects of poverty, remains relatively infrequent, especially in Continental Europe. In an attempt to fill this gap the stream invites papers that touch upon the symbolic relationship between the poor and the non-poor in the public sphere. We welcome papers exploring the (re-)presentations of poverty and “the poor” in a variety of public fora, e.g. within politics, state bureaucracies, academia, mass media, public opinion, professional discourse and practice (incl. social work, charity work, education, health, etc.), as well as among “the poor” themselves. We also welcome papers that investigate the effects of such constructions, e.g. on welfare attitudes, social trust, or the well-being of “the poor”. Since the ultimate aim of the workshop is to facilitate the European discussion about the relational/symbolic aspects of poverty and their relation to specific (national) welfare cultures, no preference is given to either theoretical or empirical papers or to any specific method of social scientific inquiry. All papers touching upon the social construction of poverty are welcome.

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