Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Not Lazy & Feckless: Not Poor At All

The sociology series on BBC 2 radio known as Thinking Aloud is one of my favourites. I've just finished listening to the episode titled "The Poor on Poverty and Radical Gardening" and found that the first part of it, about how the poor in the northeast of England view themselves and their predicament (the area around the 'A' on the map to the right), is of relevance to this blog.

Apparently most people there without the steady means to feed themselves or to heat their homes do not regard themselves as poor. At the same time they suspect that those people in their midst that really are poor remain so because they are somehow spendthrift or feckless. Yet when researchers attempt to find out who these other poor people are, through questioning, they have so far been unable to obtain their names.

This bit of research news makes me wonder, not whether there are poor Canadians—I know there are—but about how they view themselves and what they think makes people like themselves poor. The radio programme hints that our usual remedy, the one about getting people into jobs, any jobs, with the uncritical expectation that this will make them better off in time should be re-examined. At least in the northeast of England when people take on temporary work they incur expenses that can actually set them back.

What have you seen? Have you encountered any Canadian research studies in this general area?