Publishing with a purpose

The Shame Game

Overturning the Toxic Poverty Narrative

By Mary O'Hara

Published

27 Feb 2020

Page count

232 pages

ISBN

978-1447349266

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Policy Press
£12.99 £10.39You save £2.60 (20%) Pre-order

Published

27 Feb 2020

Page count

232 pages

ISBN

978-1447349280

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Policy Press
£12.99 £10.39You save £2.60 (20%)
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    What does it mean to be poor in Britain and America? For decades the primary narrative about poverty in both countries is that it has been caused by personal flaws or ‘bad life decisions’ rather than policy choices or economic inequality. This misleading account has become deeply embedded in the public consciousness with serious ramifications for how financially vulnerable people are seen, spoken about and treated.

    Drawing on a two-year multi-platform initiative, this book by award-winning journalist and author Mary O’Hara, asks how we can overturn this fundamentally pernicious portrayal once and for all. Crucially, she turns to the real experts to try to find answers – the people who live it.

    "A necessary book in divisive times." Jameela Jamil, actress and activist

    "Following up on Austerity Bites, Mary O’Hara shows us why poverty sucks. Not just for the obvious reasons of struggle and deprivation, but because poverty is produced by a specific style of politics that revels in the shame of others, a politics where the US and the UK are past masters." Mark Blyth, Brown University and author of Austerity: The history of a dangerous idea

    "The Shame Game is the book we need right now. Real stories, by people who have lived that story, smashing apart the divisive narratives around poverty that are so damaging to all of us." Kerry Hudson, Author, Lowborn

    Mary O’Hara is an award-winning journalist and author specialising in social policy and social justice. She was inspired to write about social issues in part because of her experience of childhood poverty growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Mary freelances across a number of publications and platforms including The Guardian and Mosaic Science. She was named International Columnist of the Year in 2017 and 2018 by the Los Angeles Press Club Southern California Journalism Awards for her Guardian column, Lesson From America. She is also an executive producer on the podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness and founder of the anti-poverty initiative, Project Twist-It.

    Mary is the author of Austerity Bites: A Journey to the Sharp End of Cuts in the UK and has contributed to other books including The Violence of Austerity (Pluto Press, 2017) and ‘Council Skies’ (2019) by the artist PeteMcKee. In 2009-2010 she was an Alistair Cooke Fulbright Scholar at UC Berkeley. Mary is also the founder and chair of the David Nobbs Memorial Trust.

    Part 1 ~ The Inconvenient Truth: Poverty Is Real

    Who Are These ‘Poor’ People Anyway? Being on the Breadline in Britain

    What? There Are Poor People in the Richest Nation on Earth?

    Part 2 ~ ’Turning the Screw on Poor People: Shame, Stigma and Cementing of a Toxic Poverty Narrative

    A Twisted Tale: The Evolution of a Very Nasty Narrative

    Lights, Camera, Vilification: The Narrative in Action

    The Games We Play: Weaponising the Narrative

    Shame on You: Making the Toxic Narrative Stick

    Part 3 ~ Flipping the Script: Challenging the Narrative War on the Poor

    Feeling It: The Truth About Living in Poverty

    Changing Times: Fighting Poverty, Not the Poor

    New Generation: The Young People Writing Their Own Script

    Altered Images: The Path to a New Narrative