On the Meaning of Inequality and Poverty In a post written for the Social Science Research Council’s website, the director of UCLA Luskin School’s Institute on Inequality and Democracy calls for revived attention to the concept of poverty

“We are not all equal in the experience of inequality.”

Ananya Roy, director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy

By Stan Paul

Over time and with over-use, words can lose their meaning. “Inequality” and “poverty” — buzzwords of the media, philanthropy and academia — are words that Ananya Roy wants to repoliticize and resignify as critical concepts for social science research.

Roy, the director of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ new Institute on Inequality and Democracy, has a personal stake in defending their meaning. She has spent her academic career focused on these issues.

“I worry that the expansive use of inequality distracts attention from specific forms of impoverishment, exploitation, discrimination, and segregation,” Roy wrote in a recent post on the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) website. In the post, “In Defense of Poverty,” she explained that, as “banner themes,” the concepts become “twinned with other liberal terms such as inclusion and diversity.”

Roy, who is a professor of Urban Planning and Social Welfare as well as the Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin, identified three areas that may fall under the label “critical poverty studies” — the active relations of impoverishment, the problem of poverty and rethinking north and south.

“Repoliticizing inequality is an ongoing project, one that increasingly demands vigilance and creativity on the part of social sciences,” she explained.

Read the full article at http://items.ssrc.org/in-defense-of-poverty/

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