Big Data Conference at Carleton University

Standard


I recently presented some of my research on the myths surrounding some of the most popular misconceptions about ‘welfare fraud’ at a conference hosted at Carleton University. Plot spoiler: welfare fraud isn’t actually a ‘thing.’ The statistics reveal that it’s in fact a rare event, though you couldn’t be faulted for thinking otherwise thanks to the media’s (mis)representation of welfare ‘cheats.’

But we really aren’t all born equal…

Standard

I think the claim that we’re all born equal is a particularly stupid one since of course it’s not true. A kid born into poverty is already at a different starting point than the kid born into a middle class family. And that’s just one obvious example.

People of colour, Canada’s Aboriginal population, and other members of marginal communities are already at a huge disadvantage as well when it comes to this idea about being born ‘equal.’

The problem then becomes that if we accept this notion about all of us being born ‘equal’ as some kind of absolute truth – which so many seem to – then we absolutely judge those who end up on social assistance, especially those who appear, at least to us, as being able-bodied.

That’s why I love this meme. Of course, this isn’t just true of our educational system. It’s also true of social class when we suggest or believe that all of us have ‘equal’ access to ‘success.’

DKcaw-SW4AAgNNx

The Poverty Report: “It’s not something I really wanted to tell people.”

Audio

What happens if you suddenly become disabled and unable to work and earn a living?

That’s what recently happened to 19-year-old ‘Jess’ after he was seriously injured in a cycling accident. With a concussion and broken collar bone, Jess, who was formerly healthy and fit, was suddenly forced to do something he never expected to have to.

I asked him to share what went into his decision about applying for social assistance, and whether it changed what he had previously thought about other people who are also on welfare.

The Poverty Report: “That makes me so sad…”

Standard

As part of a new ongoing series, “The Poverty Report: Systems, Narratives, and People,” I recently sat down with two women, who have lived with poverty, and asked them two questions: What are some of the common misconceptions people seem to have about those living with poverty? What do you wish you could say to them?

Here’s what they had to say:

 

Public Perceptions About Welfare ‘fraud’ are… well… Fraudulent

Standard

One of the most persistent myths about people living with poverty in Canada is that welfare fraud is a common occurrence among those receiving social assistance. This popular misconception about welfare recipients endures despite the fact that solid research has demonstrated time and time again that credible estimates of the rate of welfare fraud place it, in Ontario for example, at less than 1%.

I recently presented a research paper, “Welfare Fraud 2.0? Using Big Data to Surveil, Stigmatize and Criminalize the Poor,” at an international academic conference organized by Carleton and Sheffield Universities.

It was incredibly rewarding to be at a conference that focused on so many of my own research interests surrounding surveillance and governance of those living with poverty.

Here’s a link to some of the conference presentations, including my own, which is the first 17 minutes:

Carleton Freedom to Read Week

Standard

IMG_20160224_125204648This week is Freedom to Read Week, an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to freedom of expression and intellectual freedom, guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Carleton University has a series of events planned throughout the week; As the author of a challenged book, Kathy will be kicking off Carleton’s ‘Readings from Banned and Challenged Materials’ event by reading from her book With a Closed Fist. Members of the Carleton community will also be reading from other challenged and/or banned books.

Check it out Feb 24th, in the Main Floor Reading Room (lvl 2) of Carleton’s MacOdrum Library Main Reading Room @ 12:00pm.

Hope to see you there!