By Erhard Berner
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Extra info for Defending a Place in the City: Localities & the Struggle for Urban Land in Metro Manila
More historically minded observers noted that the term contained the same assumptions that had informed debates over poverty since at least the 19th century. Critics argued that such terms restricted discussions of poverty through directing attention away from the 39 On the margins of inclusion structural roots of the problem and onto the deficiencies of sub-groups of the poor. The emphasis on the behavioural and cultural aspects of poverty meant that the underclass was defined according to one’s definition of deviant and antisocial lifestyles.
The inequality resulting from increased earnings at the top, argues Nelson, reflects the structure of post-industrial capitalism that professionals and managers helped to create, and “the bridge forged between knowledge, income and wealth creates new men and women of power” (Nelson, 1995, p 42). The former refers to the pursuit of high-skill, highquality employment, while the latter refers to a competitive strategy based on ‘numerically flexible’ low-wage, low-skill employment. This has resulted in both ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ firms, while central to the development of a ‘flexible’ labour market has been the distinction noted by Atkinson (1984) between ‘functionally’ and ‘numerically’ flexible workers.
Poverty was viewed as a problem for the poor themselves as moral agents and for society as a legitimate social order. Henry Mayhew’s study of mid-19th-century London street life showed how the problem was not a weak attachment to working habits, but the structural conditions of a highly casualised and irregular labour market, which undermined the capacity for ‘self-help’ and thrift. He also drew attention to the ‘dishonest poor’ who were distinguished from the ‘poor’ by their behaviour and values, and by their rejection of work.
Defending a Place in the City: Localities & the Struggle for Urban Land in Metro Manila by Erhard Berner