by Fiona Ferbrache
“Poverty” was a word we heard several times during recent election campaigning, and it is a concept centralized by the European Union this year as 2010 has been marked as the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion within its borders. The Europa website reports an anticipated 17% of EU citizens have such limited resources that they are unable to afford basics. To tackle this, the European Commission has laid down guiding principles and objectives around which 26 member states have implemented their own programs. What role might Geographers play in combating poverty?
A fairly significant role, according to Millbourne in Geography Compass. In a critical review of geographic research into poverty and welfare, he reports that the last decade has been shaped by an impressive growth of work but that the opportunities for academics to engage geographies of poverty beyond the academy have remained marginal. He highlights the beneficial ways in which sophisticated geographic understanding could contribute to policy and media debates, drawing attention to the need to unbound poverty from its association with inner-city areas and to attend to a more regional focus which considers poverty occurring in suburbs and rural areas too. What we do all seem to agree on, geographers, media and the EU, is that poverty and social exclusion are ‘unacceptable’ in contemporary society.
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