Description Parallel Stream Session A.3

Description Parallel Stream Session A.3

Parallel Stream Session A (09:30-10:45)
Stream A.3: Poverty as a matter of justice.

Dorota Lepianka (Utrecht University) and Bea Cantillon (University of Antwerp).

Poverty and injustice are ambiguous concepts. The myriad of definitions and measurements point to a long list of conceptual issues: Is poverty absolute or relative? Is it about the insufficiency of financial or other material resources or (also) about deficits in belonging, social respect, autonomy and capability? When we talk about inequality, are we concerned about equality of opportunity or equality of outcome? With whom do we compare the position of the poor: with the residents of their neighbourhood, their region, their country, the world? Do we consider the distribution of income among persons, households or groups? Should we be more concerned about gender inequalities than about the divide between the rich and the poor? The answers to these complex questions are not unequivocal. They reflect different perspectives on (social) justice and contrasting visions of the good society; they also lead to different conclusions about what anti-poverty policies can and should do, thus informing alternative, often conflicting, policy paradigms.

The goal of this workshop is to elucidate the complex links between different perspectives on poverty and social justice on the one hand and policy related concepts and ideas on the other. We would like to investigate the role normative ideas about justice (may) play in tackling poverty and deprivation.

We welcome papers that offer fresh theoretical perspectives on ‘just’ anti-poverty policies at various levels of governance as well as contributions which explore how politics and institutions (inadvertently) shape the conditions that enable the violation of justice claims of the poor. Some of the questions we would like to tackle include:

  1. Which definitions and measurements of poverty are guiding social policies in the Netherlands, Flanders, Belgium and the EU? What ideas about justice might be informing them?
  2. To what extent is (re)distribution the dominant ‘justice’ lens through which poverty is looked upon and evaluated? What constitutes ‘just’ distribution? What other conceptions of justice (recognition, representation, human/citizenship rights, capabilities, etc.) are applied to describe the condition of poverty and/or to inform anti-poverty policy?
  3. How conceptualizing poverty as a matter of ‘justice’, or failure to do so, affects policy response to poverty – what is ‘unjust’ about poverty and to whom?
  4. What moral grounds and/or principles (e.g. merit, need, equality) govern specific claims to justice? How are they applied in anti-poverty interventions?
  5. What tensions – between alternative justice claims, justice principles and/or different social groups – are reflected in the anti-poverty policies on national and European level?
  6. To what extent can the anti-poverty politics be interpreted as an (ideological) battle between left and right, the state and the market, the ‘public’ and the ‘private’? What is the role of those various social actors in shaping state policies and anti-poverty interventions?
  7. How intersectional is anti-poverty politics? How are the boundaries and scope of justice defined? For example, is – and if so, why from the justice point of view – ‘working poverty’ more likely to gain the status of a social problem than ‘feminization’ or ‘minoritization’ of poverty?