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Title: What should child poverty policy look like? : disjunctures between what young people, policymakers and academics think
Author: Farthing, Rys
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 081X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This research uses a novel policy writing method to explore young people’s subjective understandings of the problems of poverty. Working with five groups of young people, aged 11 – 21, from some of the most financially deprived areas of England, it sought to draw out and explore their “policy imaginary”, or the way they viewed the problems of poverty through a lens of ideal policy responses. It unpacks these young people’s policy imaginaries, and the life-narratives they discussed alongside these imaginaries, within a discourse of individualisation. Across four articles, it demonstrates and explores the complexities and ambiguities of these young people’s thinkings. This thesis begins by suggesting that many of the problems of poverty they identify as important to their lives are structural, and that they understanding the role of collective and political agency, rather than their own individual agency, in ending poverty. It then more specifically explores their understandings of their neighbourhoods and houses, which suggests that individualised factors often identified in other research, such as social contagion and epidemic neighbourhood effects, are not what they identify as most important in their local areas. It concludes by identifying a policy gap emerging along similar theoretical lines. Here, this research suggests that much of the policy directed towards these young people focuses on individualised problems, and their individual agency as a route of out poverty, but that this sort of policy response is not what these young people felt was needed. However, this is not to suggest that these young people downplayed or dismissed their own agency in charting their life-pathways. Indeed, as much previous literature has found, these young people spoke fluently about the agency and opportunities they have in their lives, often seeming ‘hyper-agentic’. However, this thesis suggests that exploring these young people’s policy imaginary appears to create a medium through which they can talk both about their agency and the constraints and limitations low-incomes generate. It allowed them to bridge their highly agentic biographies to their socially structured histories, as they saw them.
Supervisor: Walker, Robert; Bennett, Fran Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Poverty ; Children and youth ; Participation ; Policy ; Youth