CPP in the News: Spotlight on Poverty and Inclusion

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.50.27 AMCPP Co-Director, Laura Smith, was cited in The Nation for her research on the widespread impact of poverty and social exclusion for communities.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith noted that central aspects of living in poverty include marginalization from public life and suffering the stigma associated with being poor. The same year this capitalist’s bible was published, the Declaration of Independence gave marquee status to the notion that the United States was founded on a certain bedrock principle.

“There’s this idea that our society is premised on the pursuit of happiness,” says Laura Smith, a psychologist at Columbia University’s Teachers College. That premise, she reasons, is tied to the implicit American social contract, “which is that a hard day’s work is going to be the pathway to full enfranchised citizenship. And when full-time contributors to the necessary fabric of society can’t earn enough to lift their families out of poverty, our tacit social contract is compromised.”

Smith is the author of an academic cri de cœur, published in the September 2015 issue of American Psychologist, in which she calls on the psychological profession to take a strong stance in support of raising the minimum wage. While acknowledging that upping the lowest pay rate promises no panacea in the fight against poverty, Smith asks her colleagues to consider the “mountain of evidence that supports the damaging impact of poverty upon the psychological, social and physical well-being of adults, children and communities.”

A related article posted on the Teachers College website goes to further contextualizes the significance of this research by highlighting the strong links between issues of economic poverty, living wage debates, and education.

From the TC website:

Smith emphasizes that providing a living wage will not cure all the ill effects of poverty in American society, but believes that by framing it as a public health issue, the field of psychology can influence public policy in a direct way.

As Smith notes, the impacts of poverty and, by extension, social exclusion can be long lasting and multi-faceted. How we respond, as educators and researchers, matters for changing the landscape of exclusion by pushing levers of inclusion in multiple forms: creating more and varied opportunities for participation in classrooms, not merely tolerating but also actively seeking a diversity of perspectives, locating meetings to community settings in addition to university based settings, and more.

We’re interested in hearing what others think about the links between poverty, exclusion, and social inclusion. Feel free to comment here or join us for an upcoming CPP event.




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