Names Versus Numbers: Exploring how planning for social inclusion could help alleviate the stigmatization of poverty in a small town
MetadataShow full item record
While poverty is often measured and understood as a comparison of income or lack of material goods, literature reveals the importance in understanding intangible elements of one’s well-being, such as happiness, self-esteem and social inclusion. However, considering the negative perceptions and stigma commonly attributed to poverty and other marginalized populations, such elements of well-being can be extremely difficult to attain (Chase & Walker, 2012; Porr & Olson, 2012). This often results in social isolation and exclusion from society, stemming from negative emotions of embarrassment, guilt and shame (Chase & Walker, 2012). The lack of emotional and material support creates further challenges for those experiencing poverty, such as navigating social services, obtaining information and receiving positive motivation (Collins, 2005; Chase & Walker, 2012). Given these challenges, it is important that poverty is understood through different lenses, not solely in regard to monetary factors. This study focuses on the relationship between poverty and social inclusion in the context of a small municipality. Specifically, this research explores poverty stigmatization in the Municipality of Port Hope and how the non-profit organization, Green Wood Coalition, tackles poverty stigma in a small town and incorporates social inclusion in their program modelling. In order to address the research question and objectives of this research, a qualitative mixed-methods research approach was employed. This approach included: a literature review to establish gaps in the literature and understand the main themes of this research; semi-structure interviews and a focus group to gain a deeper understanding of key informants’ perspectives of social stigmatization and poverty in small towns; and a single exploratory case study of Green Wood Coalition (GWC) that applies themes established from the literature to real life practice. Understanding how intangible elements of life can affect one’s well-being is important from a policy and an urban planning perspective. Orthodox physical planning tends to primarily consider physical space and the built environment, rather than the people within it (Davidoff, 1965). Over the years of planning history, there have been well-intentioned planning movements that attempted to combat social inequity and urban dysfunction; however these movements and theories often resulted in further social inequity. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, City Beautiful started to take shape (Reece, 2018). This movement attempted to overcome social ills throughout the urban core through way of physical determinism. If done effectively, it was believed that ordered design and aesthetically pleasing environments could tame the social disorder of cities. Although well-intentioned, this movement was largely undemocratic and thus resulted in inequitable outcomes (Reece, 2018). Those who were already experiencing financial difficulty was not relieved of their burdens, but rather pushed further to the margins (Reece, 2018). It is time “traditional planning” routinely incorporated social activism in conjunction with physical determinism.