DOI: 10.1027/2157-3891/a000100 ISSN: 2157-3883

Everyday Experiences of In-Work Poverty and Policy Responses in the Assemblage of Situations of Precarity in Aotearoa New Zealand

Ahnya Martin, Darrin Hodgetts, Pita King, Denise Blake
  • Applied Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Abstract: Lived experiences of in-work poverty remain under-researched in countries such as Aotearoa New Zealand NZ. Community-orientated psychologists often argue that people experiencing such complex issues develop considerable expertise that is invaluable in efforts to reimagine effective responses. The core aim of this article is to explore participant experiences of government efforts to alleviate the negative impacts of in-work poverty on socioeconomically marginalized groups, including the emergent Māori precariat class. From the perspective of assemblage theory, this article documents how government efforts to support low-income households become territorialized within a dynamic geography of relations as experienced by 10 precariat households (9 Māori, one Cook Island Māori). The analysis is based on four interviews per household, with a total of 40 interviews across the 10 households. These interviews encompassed photo-elicitation and mapping exercises and document householder experiences of policy initiatives, including annual minimum wage rises, the introduction of healthy homes standards, and related government support initiatives. What emerges from participant accounts is considerable disappointment regarding government efforts to render assistance that do not address dysfunctional and extractive relationships between precariat households and more affluent groups, such as private landlords. Evident from the analysis is how current policies do not adequately address the relational nature of poverty and how many policies combine in the everyday lives of the precariat to cancel out potentially positive impacts on poverty reduction. We offer a series of recommendations for how participant concerns might be addressed.

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