Platform for City Culture and Public Debate


The Politics of Poverty

w/ Matthew Desmond

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Date: 9 June 2023
Time: 20:00 – 22:00
Location: Arminius, Museumpark 3, Rotterdam
Admission: € 10,- (regular), € 6,- (reduced)
Language: English

On Friday June 9 acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond will visit De Dépendance on the occasion of his #1 New York Times bestseller Poverty, by America. In the book the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted reimagines the debate on poverty, making a provocative and compelling argument about why it persists in America and elsewhere in the Western world: because the rest of us benefit from it.

The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? 

For Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond, the answer is simple: Poverty is a policy choice. It persists because we allow it to. And we allow it to persist because so many of us — whether we realize it or not — benefit from the exploitation of the poor. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.

In this landmark book Matthew Desmond gives us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem. And it helps us imagine solutions, that are urgently applicable to The Netherlands as well. Desmond builds a startlingly original and ambitious case for ending poverty. And he calls on us all to become poverty abolitionists, engaged in a politics of collective belonging to usher in a new age of shared prosperity and, at last, true freedom.


Matthew Desmond

Matthew Desmond is a Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. He is the author of ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’, which reached millions of readers worldwide and won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Desmond is the principal investigator of The Eviction Lab, where his research focuses on poverty, city life, housing insecurity, public policy, and racial inequality. Politico listed Desmond as one of “fifty people across the US who are most influencing the national political debate.”

Geert Maarse

Geert Maarse is a journalist and programme-maker. Having worked for Erasmus University for over five years, he is specialized in connecting scientific research to public debate. He has a background in Business Administration and Cultural Studies. He is the founder and regular host of Studio Erasmus, a monthly science magazine broadcasted by OPEN Rotterdam. He worked on a documentary and published in a number of online and offline media (de Volkskrant, Vers Beton, Erasmus Magazine).

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