Blog Action Day (late): Ways we view poverty

Yesterday it was blog action day and I missed it.  I didn’t actually forget, but rather I truly didn’t have time.  I am applying for two jobs (both of which would deal with combating poverty) and spent yesterday on two planes and then catching up with old friends who are being kind enough to house me during the interviews. Needless to say, I was thinking about poverty (financial and job) and wealth (friendship) in my own life, but not blogging about it.

Today, I am making up for that and yesterday helped me to think about it.

Poverty is such a great topic and so often relates to my blog; it intertwines with important issues in my life, work, and blog like human trafficking, racism, and development. I have blogged many times about poverty (and how it mixes with other issues), including in these posts:

However, today as I write this, I want to talk about something else.  Often when people talk about poverty, they either look at it as all encompassing, hopeless, and awful or they look at it optimistically and sugar coat the experience.  Both are negative and I want to talk about why.

I have, more often that I would like, spoken to people about poverty on an international level, particularly in developing countries where the other party stated something along the lines of “oh, it’s so sad; they just have nothing good in their lives”.  With another social worker, once I was informed that in developing nations you couldn’t really justify adding “quality of life” as a part of research because they don’t have any.  This idea repulses me. Even in the most awful moments of our lives, we can point out something good.  Similarly, even people living in abject poverty do experience positives; they strive for an improved quality of life but this doesn’t mean they have no quality to begin with.

With other people, I find the exact opposite.  They try and paint poverty as an empowering experience; one that strength spirits or brings families closer together. They talk about how “the poor” (as if it were a homogeneous group) are not encumbered by modern day extravagance.  I beleive this is often done to make individuals feel less guilt over their own wealth. It also ignores the fact that poverty is a huge risk factor for family problems (domestic violence, break ups, etc) because it puts extra stress on the family. Again, internationally, this view is used to speak about “simplistic” indigenous societies without really analyzing how globalization has affected them or what the real effects of poverty within the groups are.

If you want to look at more blogs, go to Blog Action Day or check out these posts for blog action day:



  1. Thanks…. In Chile, S always complains about how the Teleton does this… on the one hand it shows how great their lives are except for the disease… so people should give give give. He thinks it is demeaning to those involved and exploitative. In some ways I get that; on the other hand, I beleive the Teleton does great work and without the real life stories I wonder how they would raise money.

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