Child Poverty in Different Social and Cultural Context: Meanings, Contradictions and Policy
The theme for this special issue is Child Poverty in Different Social and Cultural Context: Meanings, Contradictions and Policy. The theme is chosen against the backdrop of increasing evidences of child poverty especially in developing countries despite indications of overall improvements in most societies or countries in the world. Close to two decades now child poverty studies have emerged as an important area of research cutting across disciplines such as Sociology, Economics, Geography and Psychology. Definitions of child poverty in the literature show that not only does child poverty comprise multiple dimensions but highlight the importance of differentiating poverty.
The differentiation is important so as to separate poverty associated with children from that of adults because the needs of children and the necessaries of life which are peculiar to children as well as that which are important for securing the wellbeing of children as a different social category are different.
In today’s global society, there is no doubt that there are international solutions to local problems. However, such solutions will adequately work in all societies or localities if the problem(s) for which the solutions are generated are guided by knowledge from the different social and cultural context where the solutions are targeted. Child poverty like childhood or gender is a social construct. The social constructivist nature of child poverty suggests its meaning is likely to be socially and culturally specific.
Different constructions of child poverty will have policy implications for children wellbeing. Thus, global policy for addressing different meanings of child or children poverty will require policy which takes into account meanings of child poverty in different context. Yet, international bodies concerned with and task with the responsibility of formulating policies and programs to address children poverty, most often than not formulate policies and programs which are designed based on meanings of child poverty conceptualized based on limited knowledge of what child or children poverty means in limited context.
Addressing child or children poverty in different parts of the globe especially in societies that are noted for poverty and general ill-being will require policies and policy strategies and programs which are designed against the background of knowledge of what meanings and perceptions are ascribed to children poverty in specific social and cultural context. Social researchers the world over, have an important role to play towards bringing to light meanings of child poverty which are unknown and undocumented although they are important for Policy/policies which can adequately enhance children well-being when implemented.
When policies and solutions to problems emanate from a relatively few number of people perceived to be experts without any incorporation of knowledge which spring from different context, the likelihood of failure is high especially if there are contradictions in meanings about the phenomena which the proposed solution(s) are to address. Such failure can be averted if the different meanings of the phenomenon are unearthed and the contradictions identified and consequently, synchronized.