The Shame Game

Overturning the Toxic Poverty Narrative

Mary O'Hara

The Shame Game

Mary O'Hara

Distributed for Bristol University Press

232 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper $24.00 ISBN: 9781447349266 Will Publish February 2020
What does it mean to be poor? For decades the dominant narrative in the United States and United Kingdom has been that it is caused by personal flaws, or bad life decisions. People living in poverty have been depicted as lazy, dependent, and irresponsible so regularly and for so long that it has powerfully affected how people see, think about, and treat their fellow citizens who are financially vulnerable. Drawing on a two-year storytelling project and her own experience of childhood poverty, this book by journalist and author Mary O’Hara argues for a radical overhaul of this fundamentally pernicious portrayal. We can’t begin to address poverty until we actually see it clearly. To start the process of doing that, O’Hara turns not to pundits or social scientists, but to the real experts on poverty: the people who live it.
Contents
PART ONE – The Inconvenient truth: Poverty is real
Who are these poor people anyway? Being poor in the UK
How can anyone be poor in the richest country in the world? Being poor in the USA
PART TWO – Screw You Poor People: Shame, stigma and the cementing of a toxic poverty narrative
A Twisted Tale: Untangling the toxic narrative
Lights, Camera, Vilification: The narrative in action
Feeling It: What poverty, shame, and the narrative do to us
PART THREE – Flipping the Script: Challenging the toxic poverty narrative: 2 chapters
Changing Times: The battle to reclaim the poverty story
Re-frame this: Rethinking how we talk about poverty
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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