Poverty and Politics

Politics and Poverty

          Today there is a split in American politics on how to combat poverty. Throughout history, how America combats poverty has changed depending on what party is running the government. There has been a number of different parties however, Republican, Democrat, The Bull Moose Party, and other various ones. However, these views can be put into two main categories: The Liberal ideology and the Conservative ideology.

          If we understand poverty as relational and a product of social processes, this means asking ourselves how did the present situation come about. A poverty analysis needs to comprehend the interaction between structure (historically derived and culturally structured patterns of relationships) and individual or collective agency that sustains or transforms these practices. For some, ‘power’ is normally associated with the state and formal political institutions, in which the issues are framed in terms of ‘elites, elections, parliaments, political stakeholders, rule of law, etc.’ For me, power is understood as dispersed throughout society; operating in all relationships it shapes and is shaped by political and other social institutions. This helps us understand the perpetuation of poverty and exclusion among certain kinds and categories of people. Thus, if we ‘de-face’ power (i.e. do not localize it as a ‘resource’ possessed or not by specific actors), we can enquire into how power operates to sustain inequitable relations and oppression.
          Social, economic and political relations do not stop abruptly at national borders and it is a fallacy to imagine that the causes, characteristics and consequences of poverty can be understood and tackled by focusing solely on action within those borders.

Lee, D. R. (2003). Cato Journal. Retrieved from