Thursday, 6 June 2019
Yesterday I heard for the first time about relational poverty. Relative poverty I get, I have been watching those shifting goalposts for years; relative poverty is when your mate has the latest iPhone and you do not. But ‘relational’? I Googled and I came up with this: “Relational poverty i) shifts from thinking about ‘the poor and poor others’ to relationships of power and privilege, ii) works across boundaries to foster a transnational, comparative and interdisciplinary approach to poverty research, iii) involves multidirectional theory building that incorporates marginalized voices to build innovative concepts for poverty research.”
Does it, by Jove? Blimey, much like racism, just when you thought you had a handle on the word, along comes a definition to place the blame fairly on your own, already overburdened white shoulders. Not content with being personally responsible for slavery, injustice, apartheid, coastal erosion, big pharma, antibiotic resistance, super bugs, cancer and climate change, not to mention actual poverty, it seems I must now carry the can for some people feeling a bit poor in the self-esteem department.
I researched a little bit more and came across The Relational Poverty Network, which august body: “convenes a community of scholars, working within and beyond academia, to develop conceptual frameworks, research methodologies, and pedagogies for the study of relational poverty. Launched at a historical moment of dramatic income inequality and enforced austerity in the global North, the RPN thinks across geographical boundaries to foster a transnational and comparative approach to poverty research.”
Still none the wiser, I sought some clarity and I may have discovered the source. One Bruce Perry wrote a book called ‘Born for Love’ described in this 2014 blog by Stephanie Heck PhD : Perry says we need to show more ‘emotional generosity’ and there we have it – daddy issues. Sigmund Freud has so much to answer for. Not content with inventing the pseudo-science of psychotherapy, he went on to spawn a whole industry in creating and then treating a panoply of almost entirely confected and self-inflicted neuroses.
Meanwhile the worthy members of the Relational Poverty Network come together, no doubt over fancy biscuits and posh coffee, in order to:
· expand thinking about the causes of poverty
· develop collaborative projects that cross disciplinary and geographical boundaries
· bring scholars, teachers, policy makers and activists into intentional collaboration
· build the next generation of scholars and scholarship on relational poverty
So, wow, poverty studies is an actual thing; who knew? And much as with all the other branches of identity politics – race, sex, gender, colour religion etc, etc, etc, it pivots about privilege and you can bet your bottom dollar who cops the blame...
Maybe this is actually the rationale behind the increasingly parlous state of state education? Maybe this is why Tony Blair wanted everybody to go to university? Ditch the apprenticeships, forego the drudge jobs traditionally offered school-leavers – others (the genuinely poor, perhaps?) can do all that menial stuff – let’s instead prepare the pampered first-world kids for the far richer pickings available in the funding harvest. The only trouble is– and this operates at more levels than just the financial – what will be the cost and who is going to pay?