Poverty is highly politicized by how it is defined as well as by programs designed to help the poor. Further, the explanations of forces said to lead to poverty come from widely divergent perspectives, and politicized notions about the poor are sometimes embedded in scholarly work.

On one end of the political spectrum are structuralist explanations for poverty, as seen in the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report on extreme poverty and human rights. Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona (2011) suggests that states and social forces that penalize those living in poverty are interconnected and include legislation, regulations, and practices that unduly  restrict the performance of life-sustaining behaviors in public spaces by people living in poverty. Further, excessive and arbitrary use of detention and incarceration threatens the liberty and personal security of people living in poverty.

Structuralist perspectives gained prominence through the concept of the “precariat,” millions of people around the world “without …

This essay may be found on page 171 of the printed volume.

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