Disadvantages, opportunities and aspirations: trajectories of poverty in the periphery of Mexico City
María Cristina Bayón
(National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM))
Paper short abstract:
From a perspective that emphasizes poverty as dynamic and socially constructed, this paper focuses on the biographical experiences of residents in one of the most disadvantaged peripheral areas in Mexico’s city. Deprivation is problematized and experienced according to the various representations of poverty.
Paper long abstract:
In recent decades, various processes and transformations in Latin American cities have made poverty a more complex, harsh, and exclusive experience. Cities have become an increasingly hostile environment for the urban poor. A more rigid social structure, less and worse job opportunities for less educated workers, a greater spatial concentration of poverty and disadvantages, together with a deepening segmentation in the quality and access to social services and the widening gaps in life chances between the have and have not, have increasingly blocked the possibilities of disadvantaged groups to overcome deprivation. Against this background, and from a perspective that emphasizes poverty as dynamic and socially constructed, this paper focuses on the biographical experiences of residents of one of the most disadvantaged peripheral areas in Mexico's city. Starting at parental household context and childhood experiences, the analysis focuses on school, work, family, migration and housing trajectories, exploring cumulative disadvantages during the life course as well as possible tensions between opportunities and expectations, experiences and poverty discourses. Seeking to move beyond the description of life conditions of disadvantaged groups, the key question is to explore the particular ways in which these conditions are problematized and experienced according to the various representations of poverty. The sociobiographical method provides a sharper understanding of how individual stories are related to social structures and cultural contexts, and the possible tensions and resistance around the hegemonic discourses on poverty.
Comparing urban poverty from an ethnographic perspective