Christmas Collection #2

29 December 2009 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Oliver Wright, London: Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day, by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford & Orlanda Ruthven

When we hear about those living on less than $1 or $2 a day, it’s easy to assume that the world’s poor do, in fact, have a stable but incredibly meagre income. The authors of Portfolios of the Poor establish that this is far from the case, and from information gleaned from individual financial diaries kept over the course of a year (and also from the personal relationships formed in so doing) they uncover the complexity that characterizes financial management for those below the poverty line. In Bangladesh, India, and South Africa, they find that the poor have remarkable coping mechanisms to deal with uncertain and irregular incomes. In South Africa, they discover that over the course of a year, people often manage 17 different informal financial products, ranging from savings clubs, deposit collectors, and short-term cash loans. Lacking basic literacy skills, many keep track of these mentally. In order to manage the risks which often threaten their livelihoods, they find that the poor are often using a greater number of financial instruments than the rich.

(This review was based on a podcast with the authors, hosted on Development Drums.)

Ramona Liberoff, London: Rambert at Sadler’s Wells – Triple Bill

Modern dance scares the uninitiated.  Will the audience will be comprised of angular women with spectacles on rhinestone chains, with birds nests of greying hair?  Will dancers snap their wrists and flail around to honking random horn notes?  Nothing could be further than the Rambert’s last mixed bill at Sadler’s Wells.  The combination of young dancers, choreographers and audience brought accessibility and modernity to ‘old’ music: Schubert’s Death and the Maiden arranged by Mahler, Saint Saens’ Carnival of the Animals.  Modern dance is a great way of ‘hearing through seeing’: the submerged elements of the pieces were re-mixed by the imaginations of the choreographers, and made new again through associations with movements that – while being influenced through classical ballet – were much fresher than that.  Imagine a Hermes Kelly bag made of PVC, and you’ll get the picture.

Mary-Kay Harity, Chapel Hill: Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich

Wherever you are reading this, you’re likely to be seeing lots of familiar holiday reminders of those less fortunate: ubiquitous bellringers next to big red kettles, coat collections, food drives and other charity appeals. These are often accompanied by images of homeless families, isolated seniors, and gift-less children at Christmas. These may be even starker than usual this year, courtesy of the recession. That is why I highly recommend reading (or re-reading) Barbara Ehrenreich’s classic Nickel and Dimed.  Ehrenreich turns the spotlight on those ‘caught in the middle’ –  The unseen poor: neither destitute enough for aid nor solvent enough to live decently, all while working fulltime (and often two and three times ‘full time.’) Nickel and Dimed suggests a new item for the social agenda as a greater sense of shared responsibility takes hold among consumers.

Entry filed under: books. Tags: , , , .

Christmas Collection #1 Christmas Collection # 3

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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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