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Living in relative poverty amidst affluence and equality Ivar Lødemel Erika Gubrium.

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Presentation on theme: "Living in relative poverty amidst affluence and equality Ivar Lødemel Erika Gubrium."— Presentation transcript:

1 Living in relative poverty amidst affluence and equality Ivar Lødemel Erika Gubrium

2 Norway at a glimpse Population: 4.9 mill Unemployment: 3,3% Gini: 0,23 Poverty: 3-6% (OECD 50 vs EU 60) Social-democratic model of welfare – Close to universal social insurance – Underpinned by residual social assistance

3 Our research Relative poverty in Norway - interviews with 28 social assistance claimants Focus: How is poverty experienced? What does poverty mean in terms of shaming and social exclusion (every day & policy context)? Today: contexts for shaming, a few policy implications

4 Geographic Dimensions Study sites: – 1. Small town, coastal Norway – 2. Wealthy suburb West of Oslo – 3. Industrial suburb East of Oslo Relative/relational poverty and social exclusion felt more strongly in some locations (wealthy or small towns)

5 Economic challenges amidst wealth £918,000 to own £618/month to rent

6 Economic challenges amidst wealth It’s embarrassing that we drive around in an old Saab that we’ve borrowed from my mom and dad…especially when there are only fancy cars here in Eiketangen…we stand out. I don’t remember who it was from [my child’s] nursery school, but there was a lady who said to me, “sorry that I didn’t say hello, but I didn’t recognize you in that” and pointed to the Saab….and many moms don’t say hi to me, it’s just like I’m air. And they are so well-to-do and la di da (Lisa, 1044- 1061). It’s really boring…I certainly know that if [my children] go to a birthday party, then the parents will know my situation…And then I’m excluded again. Because I’m one of those poor people. It’s very typical here in Eiketangen.…it’s pretty bad, that one has to set oneself apart because of economic status. And there are many people who don’t understand. Those who have a job…and have two cars. And have a cabin. And have a boat…And they sit and give me the evil eye because I don’t have money to go to a little birthday party (Kari Anne, 365-370, 500-504).

7 Social Exclusion & Joblessness Joblessness/status: I like working. Yes, I do. It gives life meaning. Especially if you live alone and you also don’t have a job? Jesus’s terrible..Well, you’re lonely! You have no job. Your network is like [demonstrates with hands] miniscule. It’s a miniscule network. If you’re not strong, you’ll go mad. You’ll go and hang yourself (115-126). …You see, work is important because it also gives you a network. Even if you’re lonely at home, fine, but you have colleagues at work. It’s something. You meet people, you talk with people, not just with the TV (Omar, 169-175). Social network for structure: It’s definitely been my social network…If it hadn’t been for that, I would have in any case been depressive and not gotten out of the ditch…I can say that in any case half of my social network are also social assistance clients. So we find things [to do] that don’t need to be so expensive. That’s very good. And those who do have work, they understand the situation. So if we go out to a restaurant, we don’t go to the most expensive (Kenneth, 330-343).

8 Contexts for Shaming NAV hierarchy – shame of categorization (identity, limbo & ‘othering’) Work Permanent Disability/Short-term unemployment benefits Work Internship within Qualification Programme Qualification Programme Social Assistance Trajectory (status change) (Former status) --- low point --- turning life around --- work seeking --- working ‘Normal’ ‘Marginal’ ‘Normal’ ‘Balance’ ‘Marginal’

9 Poverty measures and personal trajectories Early Trajectory/Helping Self: You get out and get positive feedback and you get energy from that, you feel like you’re on a path then, dare a little here and dare a little there, I have so much energy in the day that it’s completely insane. Those who saw me before Christmas [beginning of QP] and in comparison to now, they almost don’t recognize me. Through the QP I’ve taken two very good courses that focused on how you deal with things…how to get up and make a decision, how you can choose to a certain degree to take things positively (Lisa, 356-379). Late Trajectory/Work Identity: I feel…I’ve been categorized – a little like – [with] a group of people who I’m really not – I feel the need to advance…I’m not saying that I’m too good, it’s not that. But I’m saying that I’m maybe a little more, you know, many of them in the QP…aren’t in my situation, it’s two different situations…What I really want is a job, a good job, and get me out as quickly as possible (Gabriel, 86-110).

10 Conclusions Poverty, albeit relative, is a real and challenging experience for people also in a rich and egalitarian welfare state Worklessness -as an arena of inclusion and «normality»- is perhaps more important than low income for the shame/poverty nexus in Norway Even the most universal welfare state maintains a hierarchy in which some must occupy the residual position R. Titmuss: «There will always be a third division of welfare» The success of activation and other measures tied to the residual safety-net depends on the extent to which they match the identities and needs of the targeted individuals

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