Swanson, Jean 1943–

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Swanson, Jean 1943–

PERSONAL: Born 1943.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Between the Lines, 720 Bathurst St., Ste. 404, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4, Canada.

CAREER: Activist and writer. End Legislated Poverty, British Columbia, Canada, co-founder; National Anti-Poverty Organization, Canada, past president.


Poor-bashing: The Politics of Exclusion, Between the Lines (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

SIDELIGHTS: Long-time anti-poverty activist Jean Swanson talked with people across Canada for her book Poor-bashing: The Politics of Exclusion. In the book, Swanson explores such issues as why poverty exists and why "poor-bashing" occurs. "Poor-bashing is when people who are poor are stereotyped, ignored, blamed, patronized, pitied, falsely accused of being drunk and having large families and not looking for work," Swanson told Joanna Fine in an interview on the Between the Lines Web site. "Other ways are institutional, for example, low welfare rates is a type of poor-bashing. Having poverty in a world where it is possible to eliminate it is a type of poor-bashing."

Swanson discusses such issues as the language of poor-bashing, which she believes disguises the root causes of poverty. She examines the media and what she calls "poornography," the roles government and corporations play in promulgating poor-bashing, and even the negative attitudes unwittingly promoted by the charities designed to help the poor. Swanson also provides a history of poverty and shows how poor-bashing developed, how new poor laws help companies hire cheap labor, and how to challenge and change our approaches to dealing with poverty and poor bashing.

Writing in Labour/Le Travail, Margaret Little commented, "Through this book … Swanson makes it clear that we are all guilty by our complacency—we are all part of the problem if we do not actively choose to be part of the solution. One active choice you can make is to buy the book, read it, and pass it along to everyone you know." In a review for Alternatives Journal Sally Lerner wrote, "Swanson's hard-hitting book takes a broad look at what she calls the politics of exclusion, noting … that poor-bashing belongs in the same category as racism, sexism and ageism." A This magazine contributor noted that Swanson "offers a careful and knowledgeable overview of the systems that have created poverty in the West since feudalism was overtaken by capitalism."



Alternatives Journal, fall, 2001, Sally Lerner, review of Poor-bashing: The Politics of Exclusion. p. 51.

Labour/Le Travail (Canada), fall, 2002, Margaret Little, review of Poor-bashing. p. 323.

This, September-October, 2001, review of Poor-bashing. p. 58.


Between the Lines Web site, http://www.btlbooks.com/ (February 1, 2005), Joanna Fine, interview with Swanson.