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Poverty in men: from self-determination to the “naked life”


KeywordsTriple Keywords
Citizenship (International law)
National citizenship
Nationality (Citizenship)
Citizenship--Law and legislation
Birthright citizenship
Number concept
Social capital (Sociology)
Capital, Social (Sociology)
Child socialization
Social education
Evaluation of literature
Literary criticism
Self (Philosophy)
Capital assets
Fixed assets
Oppression (Psychology)


At the beginning of this thesis, first of all my 25 years of civic engagement in the anti-poverty movement in Quebec, in particular in the collective defence of the rights of persons assisted in society. It was through this commitment that the question of research into this thesis emerged: is there a link between the poverty experience of men experiencing poverty and their gender socialisation? To answer this research question, I used as secondary data for this thesis, 27 interviews carried out in 2006-2007 with male social care providers by the Montreal Centre for Research on Social Inequalities, Discrimination and Alternative Citizenship Practices (CREMIS). A qualitative analysis by conceptual categories was used to analyse in depth 17 of its 27 interviews, against the background of an ontological posture inspired by Paolo Freire’s conscientisation approach, a constructivist, post-modernist and critical epistemological posture, and a theoretical and conceptual universe inspired by two fields of research: studies on poverty and studies on men. The results of the interviews analysis led to the following four main findings: (1) the existence of a link between poverty and men, including the adherence of respondents to a number of attributes of hegemonic masculinity, and the influence of this ideal of masculinity on their self-realisation pathway, as well as on the strategies and means used to address different barriers; (2) the inclusion of respondents’ pathways in an ego-identity project with difficult obstacles to overcome for men belonging to the class of generic workers with human, cultural and social capital which, over the course of their journey, deteriorates, making their self-realisation project increasingly difficult; (3) the finding that public aid, rather than providing a social safety net, punished men met by pushing them to ‘bare life’ and that social assistance acted as a repressive state apparatus for maintaining gender oppression: (4) the need for social work to develop formal support tailored to the needs of men experiencing poverty by using their resilience as a lever for intervention, but also to address the structural causes of male poverty, in particular to deconstruct hegemonic masculinity and claim a better social safety net.

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