Definition

In the above definition of violence ("the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation) the inclusion of the word ‘‘power,’’ in addition to the phrase "use of physical force," broadens the nature of a violent act and expands the conventional understanding of violence to include those acts that result from a power relationship, including threats and intimidation. The "use of power" also serves to include neglect or acts of omission, in addition to the more obvious violent acts of commission. Thus, "the use of physical force or power" should be understood to include neglect and all types of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, as well as suicide and other self-abusive acts. This definition covers a broad range of outcomes – including psychological harm, deprivation and maldevelopment. This reflects a growing recognition of the need to include violence that does not necessarily result in injury or death, but that nonetheless poses a substantial burden on individuals, families, communities and health care systems worldwide. Many forms of violence against women, children and the elderly, for instance, can result in physical, psychological and social problems that do not necessarily lead to injury, disability or death. These consequences can be immediate, as well as latent, and can last for years after the initial abuse. Defining outcomes solely in terms of injury or death thus limits the understanding of the full impact of violence on individuals, communities and society at large Concentrated poverty refers to a spatial density of socio-economic deprivation. In the US it is commonly used in fields of policy and scholarship in reference to areas of "extreme" or "high-poverty" defined by the US census as areas with "40 percent of the tract population living below the federal poverty threshold."[1] A large body of literature argues that these areas of concentrated poverty place additional burdens on poor families that live within them, beyond what the families own individual circumstances would dictate. The research also indicates that areas of concentrated poverty can have wider effects on surrounding neighborhoods, not classified as "high-poverty," limiting overall economic potential and social cohesion The Invention of the Measure There have long been areas of concentrated poverty, and the distinct social problems of concentrated poverty, which exacerbate individual impoverishment have been the grounds of reform movements and studies since the mid-19th Century. However, the measure of concentrated poverty and the coalescence around an analytical conception of concentrated poverty occurred only in the 1970s. This more recent focus on concentrated poverty grew largely out of concern about the nation’s inner cities in the wake of ongoing deindustrialization, civil unrest in the late 1960s, and the rapid suburbanization and out-migration that followed. In most cases, these poor inner-city locations were populated predominantly by minorities, and many featured large public housing developments. The definition for "low-income areas" first developed by the Bureau of the Census as part of its work for the newly established Office of Economic Opportunity, a new bureaucracy designed to administer most of the War on Poverty Programs created as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society legislative agenda.[3] The goal was to identify areas of major concentrations of poverty within large metropolitan areas. The original definition was formed through an attribute-based criterion. Each census track was ranked by an equally weighted measurement of (1) an areas income, (2) level of education, (3) number of single-parent households, (4) percentage of low-skilled workers, and (5) quality of the housing stock. The lowest quartile from the rankings were then designated "low income." The 1970 census took the earlier attribute-based measure and translated it into a purely statistical one - defining "low-income areas" as census tracts with 20%-39% of its inhabitants falling below the poverty and designating areas of "high-poverty" or “extreme poverty” as those with 40% or more of its inhabitants falling under the poverty line. The 20% threshold adopted in 1970 was derived by calibrating a statistic of household income that most closely approximated the 1960 lower quartile. The 40% threshold to designate "high-poverty areas" was set by doubling the low-income threshold. This 40% threshold became the common definition of "concentrated poverty" in policy and scholarly research. Another measure of concentrated poverty used for larger geographical areas was later developed by Paul Jargowsky. His rate expresses the proportion of all poor individuals in a certain area (e.g., city, metropolitan region, or county) who live in census tracts of high poverty.[4] Later, Jargowsky uses the concept of concentrated poverty to refer more specifically to the "proportion of the poor in some region city or region that resides in high-poverty neighborhoods" as opposed to a territorial designation of high-poverty neighborhoods [5] The Invention of the Concept The first major work of scholarship to utilize the census measure to study the changing spatial trends of poverty, as well as its causes and effects, was William Julius Wilson in his book The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, The Underclass, and Public Policy.[6] His findings revealed that tracts of concentrated poverty increased dramatically, not only in Chicago, but throughout metropolitan areas of the United States during the 1970s, as did the population of poor people residing within them. These trends related specifically to an African American "underclass" in America's inner city (see trends below). In this work, Wilson utilizes concentrated poverty as an analytic measure to gauge the changing spatial organization and intensification of poverty, as a territorial category to designate an object of analysis and, and also as a causal factor in and of itself, effecting life chances among the poor. All three of these conceptualizations have since served as the basis for a wide range of social science research as well as policy interventions and prescriptions. Analytic Measure Wilson's study set the precedent of using the census' 40% threshold and this has been adopted as the standard measure to study trends of poverty and poor neighborhoods. This is largely due to the measure's convenience rather than any strong conceptual justification. The measure is used to compare degree of poverty concentration between areas and the growth or decline in the number of tracts that fit this qualification in a given city, region, or country. Critiques of the measure have been leveled against both the federal definition of poverty as well as the census definition of concentrated poverty by the 40% threshold. In both cases, the overall discussion has questioned the use of a bureaucratic category designed to facilitate the routine collection of statistics and the determination of eligibility of public assistance, geared to managerial concerns of the state as being unfit for capturing urban social structures and strategies. Criticisms of the poverty threshold are legion,[7] the most salient being the inability to fully consider the needs of different family types (e.g.: the need for childcare services, health insurance, etc.), the non-cash benefits from public sources, the cash and non-cash resources or lack-there-of from social and familial networks, and the consideration of regional variations in cost of living expenses. At the same time, the 40 percent benchmark used by the census and scholars to define concentrated poverty does not refer to any adequately specified objective or subjective criteria. Jargowsky and Bane (1991) assert “...that the 40 percent criterion came very close to identifying areas that looked like ghettos in terms of their housing conditions” (p. 239). They contend that “the areas selected by the 40 percent criterion corresponded closely with the neighborhoods that city officials and local Census Bureau officials considered ghettos” (p. 239). Thus, these scholars argued that although “any fixed cutoff is inherently arbitrary...the 40 percent criterion appropriately identifies most ghetto neighborhoods” (p. 239). Here we see that the use of the threshold is justified on the basis of a general personal impressions and impressions of city officials rather than any rigorous objective criteria