A New Face of Poverty? Economic Crises and Poverty Discourses

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This article explores how economic downturns shape poverty knowledge. Utilizing a content analysis of 689 articles from three major newspapers from 2006 to 2009, this article examines how the Great Recession has shaped discourses on the meaning and causes of poverty in the United States. I find that contemporary accounts of people in poverty employ a structural/contextual narrative more often than a psychological/moral narrative and focus more on the symbolic, rather than material, aspects of poverty. This study highlights how economic crises create a space for new poverty discourses to emerge that challenge the hegemonic narrative, which stigmatizes and Otherizes people in poverty. However, representations of poverty remain racialized and gendered, as the “new poor” are portrayed as fundamentally different and more deserving of policy action than those who were in poverty prior to the Great Recession.