To Fight Inequality we Need to Fight Poor Perception


Inequality is on the rise throughout the developed world and there’s no better example of this increase than in the USA. The concept of the “American Dream” has led to an pervasive idea that anybody can become wealthy if they work hard, this concept is damaging because it ignores the plight of most individuals while worshipping success of the few. As a result, the discussion around poverty degrades to moral issues instead of addressing the systemic and institutional issues that perpetuate poverty.

At the Guardian, Maia Szalavitz, writes that if we’re going to make to improve equality in the developed world we need to change the way we think – and we can!

“We tend to see the world through our own experiences,” explains Stephen Pimpare, lecturer in American Politics at the University of New Hampshire and author of the forthcoming Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen. “We often think it is structure or circumstance that constrains our choices, but it’s the behavior of others that alters theirs.”

In other words, other poor people are poor because they make bad choices – but if I’m poor, it’s because of an unfair system. As a result of this phenomenon, Pimpare says, poor people tend to be hardest on each other. He gives the example of a large literature in anthropology and sociology about women on welfare published since the 1980s. “It finds over and over again that some of nastiest things you ever hear about women on welfare come out of the mouths of women on welfare.”

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