Fortifying the boundaries: Digital surveillance and policing versus the lives and agency of people living in poverty

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Teacher Education

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Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies


© 2020, Institute for Education Policy Studies. All rights reserved. Primarily drawing from the works of Edin and Shaefer (2016) and Eubanks (2017), this essay uses their descriptions of the realities of people living in poverty as well as the structural and technological fortifications that are used to sort and confine them to a status of second-class citizen to show that poverty is a condition that limits the possibility of democratic interactions. While people living in poverty actively exercise their voice and agency in their everyday interactions, such representations of agency often go unnoticed or are unrecognized, are criminalized, and/or are completely disregarded. Instead of being recognized as experts of their own experiences and as sources of valuable knowledge, people living in poverty are spoken for and legislated against to the point where outside of their own respective communities, their voice is virtually non-existent. However, understanding that the elimination of voice limits democratic possibility by enclosing the plurality of possible futures, we can see how silencing a subset of the population forecloses the manifestation of citizenship. Indeed, the authentic experiences of people living in poverty effectively map out structures and outcomes that should be rallied against if we wish to chart a course toward inclusive active citizenship.

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