Are the “poor” still with us?
Indeed it is now very rare that the word “poor” is actually used. Instead we hear things like “low-income households”, “socially excluded”, “vulnerable”, or, my favourite, “families with complex needs”. The idea seems to be that if we rename a problem we have somehow transformed it. Moreover, suggesting that the problem is “social” or “complex” and relates to “vulnerability” implies that poverty can only be addressed by those with special insight into the problem. It is an article of faith amongst social scientists that poverty is caused by structural inequalities which are beyond the scope of the individuals themselves to solve. Hence the problem of poverty needs to be labelled accordingly.
Perhaps then we need to reassert the use of the term “poor” to remind us that we are referring to individual people with specific problems that need to be tackled, rather than relying on euphemisms that point the blame at anonymous social forces that only experts can identify.