Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

The Many Faces of Poverty

1,361 views

Published on

Analysis of Twitter feed on poverty to see underlying metapohrs.

Published in: Education

The Many Faces of Poverty

  1. 1. The Many Faces of Poverty Weekly Research Report for June 18, 2014 Prepared by: Joe Brewer Culture Designer Change Strategist for Humanity T 206.914.8927 joe@culture2inc.com http://www.changestrategistforhumanity.com
  2. 2. Focus of This Report This study looks at a variety of meanings for the word poverty as used in English-language Twitter feeds. We have our own ideas for what it is supposed to mean. Yet, as this analysis shows, there is much greater diversity “in the wild” where people can view it from many different perspectives. By gathering a large number of tweets (roughly 1500 unique mentions), it is possible see this variety and begin to give it structure. As I set out to understand the many faces of poverty—as it shows up in the minds of people who talk about it—a number of different lenses became apparent. It can be used to stir hope, to differentiate people into separate groups, to express anger at marginalization, and more. In the next few pages, I will showcase some of the different ways poverty is talked about to stimulate discussion about how we want to conceptualize and articulate our view of poverty and what we want to see done about it. First, a snapshot of the discourse. This graph shows the number of unique expressions per day for the month of May. Note that the magnitudes are roughly three times larger than those computed for inequality last week. While inequality had 40 unique expressions per day, poverty averaged 129—a larger amount of attention was paid to poverty during this period of time. 0" 50" 100" 150" 200" 250" 0" 2" 4" 6" 8" 10" 12" 14" 16" 18" 20" Number'of'Unique'Men/ons'on'Twi3er' Day'of'Month'(May'2014)' The'Poverty'Meme'on'Twi3er' The Many Faces of Poverty Weekly Research Report for June 18, 2014
  3. 3. Breakdown of the Top Tweets for May 2nd, 2014 In the table below, I have ranked the five most “re-tweeted” expressions for a single day in early May. Note that the #1 entry was shared 997 times. This begs the question why was it so compelling to share? This is all the more pertinent considering that the same expression was retweeted 1162 times on May 6th (see discussion on the next page). Clearly it struck a nerve and compelled people to take action. Rank Retweeted # Top Tweets for May 2, 2014 1 997 This child played a violin at his teacher's funeral. That teacher helped him escape poverty & violence through music 2 480 How can they understand poverty, he is born with golden spoon, we have sold Chai on the railway station : @NarendraModi in Gonda, UP 3 431 Notice a GOP pattern? Women can't testify on contraception & now Paul Ryan wont let poor people testify on poverty 4 155 RT @CHIMPSINSOCKS: I'm Living #BelowTheLine for awareness & critical funds to help people get out of extreme poverty. Sponsor me at... 5 147 So global poverty fell by almost 1/2 Tuesday night Commentary ✦ The #1 expression treats poverty as a trap to be escaped. It also tells an inspiring and heartwarming story of the impoverished person getting help and becoming complete or fully healed by the support of an elder. ✦ The #2 expression treats poverty as a perspective to empathize with, where the wealthy person is presumed incapable of understanding the poor. This introduces a categorical distinction between groups of people. ✦ The #3 expression treats poverty as a marginalized issue where those who can speak to it with authenticity and legitimacy are intentionally excluded. Thus it is the target of political attack. ✦ The #4 expression treats poverty as a container one might be trapped in, not necessarily a prison but a trap of some sort. It suggests a logic that financial aid can free a poor person in the trap. ✦ The #5 expression treats poverty as a mythical number based on measurement, where changing the mode of measurement can “magically” change the number in an instant. The Many Faces of Poverty Weekly Research Report for June 18, 2014
  4. 4. Breakdown of the Top Tweets for May 6th, 2014 A few days later, some of the same expressions were still trending. Yet the composition had changed overall. The top performer is the same as the one from May 2nd. Note how inspiring content spreads well. It is also important to note that who the content comes from (and their place in the network) is vital to what spreads.1 This is an example of positive messaging spreading better than negative messaging—a key part of the strategy for Upworthy as it seeks to share “good news” far and wide. We can explore ways to help content spread by observing what already does so. In this case, it was a touching story of reunion after death (emotionally powerful) that prompted so many to share. Rank Retweeted # Top Tweets for May 6, 2014 1 1162 This child played a violin at his teacher's funeral. That teacher helped him escape poverty & violence through music 2 121 #Mexico Anti-Poverty Fund Draws Line at 3 Children http://t.co/ 6JuCtqjtMl 'Mexican government's anti-poverty program gets criticism afte...' 3 119 Hindu muslim se ladega? kuch milega?Muslims Hindu se ladega? kuch milega?lets fight poverty! not by relegion! - Modi #144inAmethi 4 116 RT @Pressbrief: #RahulGandhi at Mirzapur, UP: In the past 10 yrs we freed 15 cr people from poverty through MNREGA, Food Bill 5 115 #uk #ff #usa #news VIDEO: Poverty 'promises have not been kept' http://t.co/PQsiQtbOe5 Commentary ✦ The #2 expression treats poverty as an issue to be addressed by policy in the form of a government program that is under attack. ✦ The #3 expression treats poverty as an enemy to be defeated, a different metaphor that evokes the War Frame for battling against poverty itself. ✦ The #4 expression treats poverty as an unjust prison to be liberated from, drawing attention to the moral nature of putting someone in poverty as an act of wrong-doing. ✦ The #5 expression treats poverty as a promise or social contract that has not been met. We can already see that some of the different expressions evoke similar conceptual structures, like the metaphor treating poverty as a container in the form of a prison or trap that a person must The Many Faces of Poverty Weekly Research Report for June 18, 2014 1 This one came from the account of David Reus (@Deividcova) which currently has 1899 followers. Most of his tweets are also in Spanish, suggesting that this particular piece of information was strong enough to go viral on its own.
  5. 5. escape. It is helpful to ponder what the logic implies. If poverty is a “place” to escape from, then the freedom to move from inside to outside becomes the focus for discussion. This is how a particular frame can limit the range of options for discussion of solutions. Breakdown of the Top Tweets for May 18th, 2014 Later in the month the conversation had changed quite a lot. The flow of ideas is dynamic and ever-changing which is why we need to learn how change happens within the discourse in order to guide the changes that we want to see emerge in the future. Rank Retweeted # Top Tweets for May 18, 2014 1 614 This is an example of the Mexican poverty divide. http://t.co/qidFwNDLWk 2 471 RaGa: 'Poverty is just a state of mind!Oh is it?This inefficient man doesn't even know country's pathetic condition. #SantSatayeSattaJaaye 3 325 (Poverty strikes all) @IndiaToday: Poll data shows large number of Muslims voted for Modi http://t.co/jHx4Vd6CMohttp://t.co/ ddngmCWJ3H 4 276 RT @WOWFactsOfLife: The US has spent over $990 Billion dollars on the 'war' with Iraq. This is enough to wipe out world poverty for 10 year 5 272 "There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a poor man & I've been a rich man. And I choose rich, every fucking time." http://t.co/ axRwuPX0EL Commentary ✦ The #1 expression treats poverty as a dividing line that separates classes of people. This reduces empathy across the boundary by dividing the society into two distinct tribes, the rich and the poor. ✦ The #2 expression treats poverty as a state of mind, equating it with emotional states like depression, anger, or sadness. ✦ The #3 expression treats poverty as an antagonist who does harm to people, by placing it in the role of the noun performing the action of “striking” (and therefore doing physical damage to) the populace. ✦ The #4 expression treats poverty as a disease or plague that can be “cured” by spreading the antidote, which in this statement is presumed to be aid money from wealthy nations. The Many Faces of Poverty Weekly Research Report for June 18, 2014
  6. 6. ✦ The #5 expression treats poverty as an undesirable place to be. Given the choice, the person would rather go to a place of wealth than a place of poverty. In Closing The purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate two points. Firstly, that there are many ways to conceptualize or “frame” the idea of poverty. We have many meanings to choose from! Also, it is important to keep in mind that the meaning another uses may well be different from our own. Secondly, I wanted to show that the conversation is richly complex, multifaceted, and ever- changing. Even within the span of a few days the composition of ideas shifted from theme to theme and the emotional sensibilities that contributing to the behavior of sharing content changed as well. We will need to keep this dynamic quality of the discourse in mind as we seek to navigate the flow of an evolving landscape of ideas. As the larger picture becomes more clear we will gain the ability to make informed decisions about how we want to engage the poverty discourse. At this early stage in the learning process my aim is merely to reveal more of the complex conversational landscape. The Many Faces of Poverty Weekly Research Report for June 18, 2014

×