Community-Driven Solutions to Poverty: Challenges and Possibilities
The Manitoba Research Alliance (MRA) has made original poverty-related findings and affected public policy during 17 years of SSHRC-funded research. Our work has been genuinely community-driven, producing a nuanced, “insider’s” understanding of the complex poverty that characterizes many Manitoba communities. This research has revealed a paradox: while many community-based strategies work well in helping some individuals and families move out of poverty, they are not producing sustainable, transformative change that would significantly reduce poverty.
Our current project asks:
how do various systems, structures, contexts, ideas and relations work to perpetuate complex poverty, and what are the steps that must be taken to build the social and political power needed to reduce complex poverty?
Our work is organized around four integrated themes derived from previous work: justice, safety & security; housing; education, employment and social inclusion; and community economic development (CED).
We employ the same multiple-method research approach used successfully in previous SSHRC projects — qualitative methods, especially community-based participatory research, and quantitative analysis. We also aim to move to a deeper level of inquiry by: using longitudinal analysis to map personal lives within a wider web of familial, community and societal relationships; documenting the multiple, conflicting interventions made by state systems (e.g., criminal justice, child welfare); and working with community and government partners to develop practical policy solutions. We will combine the skills of university researchers with strong publication records with the experiential knowledge of our community partners and the policy skills and capacities of our government partners.
While we focus on Manitoba to build on previous research and ensure an in-depth analysis, our research has broad importance. Because communities everywhere may face similar realities and pressures, our findings interest academics, policy makers and community organizations at local, national and international levels.