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Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain's Underclass

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The book is divided into 32 short chapters, self-deprecatingly described by McGarvey as a “series of loosely connected rants that give the appearance of a book” (p. xxv). The result is a pleasingly accessible book for those pressed for time (such as trainee EPs) as each chapter does not take long to read. Class Matters You may also opt to downgrade to Standard Digital, a robust journalistic offering that fulfils many user’s needs. Compare Standard and Premium Digital here. A systemic analysis that focuses on external factors unwisely forgoes the opportunity to explore the role we, as individuals, families and communities, can play in shaping the circumstances that define our lives. A systemic analysis does not account for the subtleties of poverty at ground level; the link between false belief and self-defeating action that keeps so many of us trapped in a spin cycle of stress and thoughtless consumption. Pastor, Writer, Debater, Blogger, Scot, Dundonian, married to Annabel....with three grown up children and two grandchildren. View all posts by theweeflea McGarvey decided to speak. He began rapping about his experiences and speaking openly about the difficulties of living down-and-out in Glasgow. And people listened. At least they listened sometimes.

But what has made McGarvey such a particular figure of attention is his political message. As the old mainstream desperately seeks a response to Trump and Brexit, McGarvey, a life-long radical socialist, seems to offer an antidote to populist anger that transcends left and right.But his urgently written, articulate and emotional book is a bracing contribution to the debate about how to fix our broken politics. Financial Times, December 2017Poverty Safari ends with some honest self-reflection by McGarvey. Although he speaks out against the social, political, and economic injustices that enable and perpetuate poverty, he suggests that the despair and powerlessness felt by many in disadvantaged working class communities has become a crutch to lean upon whilst blaming the difficulties that they face on circumstances and powers beyond their control. In the first chapter, Darren McGarvey describes holding a rap workshop in a prison. Why did the author choose to open with this experience and does it provide a suitable introduction to the book and its themes? There is lots that I really enjoyed here, but the structure proved somewhat frustrating: it is only until the second half of the book, and really, the very last chapter that McGarvey seems to really spell out his most important point (and the most important lesson he’s learnt for his own life): that of taking personal responsibility.

Essentially asking the left to internalize the core of neoliberal ideology "there's no such thing as a society". (This is the line at which I stopped reading the book.) My wife shared the Kindle edition of Poverty Safari with me, maybe a year ago. I managed to completely ignore it until I needed to do some research last month and since then have been working my way slowly through. The title is supposed to be a cruel barb. The rich drive through poor places on poverty safari. But I thought McGarvey was going to take us out of the car and show us things. He doesn't. In what ways does Poverty Safari provide starting points for political discussion that could lead to change? Are the topics discussed represented properly in politics and the media?Of course this is learned behaviour, passed down through the generations, and clearly this is a level of distrust that successive governments and prime ministers have well earned. He talks about the insidious role of the poverty industry, a murky business of bureaucracy and not speaking up against the status quo, “Where success is when there remain just enough social problems to sustain and perpetuate everyone’s career. Success is not eradicating poverty but parachuting in and leaving a ‘legacy’.” Has Poverty Safari changed or challenged any of your presumptions regarding either Britain’s ‘underclass’ or middle class? What else annoys you about Glasgow?’ I ask. ‘Immigrants,’ says one, to which the other nods in agreement. ‘What is it about immigrants that annoys you?’ I ask. ‘They come here and take jobs and houses when we have enough homeless people on our streets.’ ‘They rape people.’ ‘They shouldn’t be allowed to speak in their own language.’ ‘If they are running away from a war then maybe they should stay in their own countries and fight?’ ‘If they hate Britain then why come here?’ Within two minutes, these normally mute, unresponsive, passive-aggressive boys suddenly spring to life and reveal to me an issue they are not only passionate about but clearly believe themselves to be knowledgeable on. It’s just a shame they are racist. Racist attitudes like these, often learned at home, are carried into adulthood before being passed on to the next generation. Which is why many are anxious about conceding ground to people with ‘legitimate’ concerns about immigration.” Part memoir, part polemic, this is a savage, wise and witty tour-de-force. An unflinching account of the realities of systemic poverty, Poverty Safari lays down challenges to both the left and right. It is hard to think of a more timely, powerful or necessary book. J.K. Rowling I laud McGarvey for his open discussion of the deep and severe trauma he experienced in his family growing up, and I have no doubt that had grave repercussions for his initial trajectory into an early adult life blighted by addiction and destructive behaviour. My difficulties are when McGarvey tries to generalise from his experiences to society as a whole.

This book is maybe 5% safari, and 95% theory and explaining of things. Not what I signed up for. Somewhere in the middle of the book, MacGarvey himself makes a joke that he sold the book as a "misery memoir" -- making fun of himself for talking so much theory and not so much personal anecdotes. Ha ha -- where's my misery memoir, dude?!? But the second these kids are legally culpable, our entire posture towards them changes. When the truth, whether we accept it or not, is that the neglected and abused kids, the unruly young people, the homeless, the alkies, the junkies and the lousy, irresponsible, violent parents are often the same person at different stages of their lives." (Chapter 16: Great Expectations) Brilliant. Haunting, thought-provoking and compelling in equal measure, this devastatingly honest memoir merged with political and social polemic is essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in alleviating poverty.The book is not an easy read. It is a personal memoir about deprivation, abuse, violence, addiction, family breakdown, neglect and social isolation. But it is also a positive book, a book of hope and no little courage. At the same time, it contains both challenges to and insight for the competing ways in which both the political left and right view and seek to respond to poverty. Adam Tomkins MSP

In this extract from his radical book Poverty Safari, former rapper Darren McGarvey sets forward a new approach to an old and complex problem For cost savings, you can change your plan at any time online in the “Settings & Account” section. If you’d like to retain your premium access and save 20%, you can opt to pay annually at the end of the trial.Poverty Safari' caught my eye on the library shelf, then the blurb convinced me to read it. McGarvey grew up in poverty in Glasgow, and I've been thinking that this year I want to read more about Scotland. Since I live here and all. While the book definitely gives an insight into life in a deprived part of Glasgow, it also has a great deal to say about poverty more generally. McGarvey is an articulate and considered writer, analytical and compassionate in his dissection of poverty as he and others have experienced it. He also confronts the fact that for his book to be saleable, he had to describe the traumas of his childhood: All bad habits involve a routine, any deviation from which creates anxiety and agitation. This stress triggers the urge to resume the habitual behaviour, a powerful impulse that can override all other considerations.” McGarvey initially regards intersectionality as a means to broaden the pursuit of social justice for a wider range of marginalised and discriminated groups, but then becomes critical, contending that many public expressions of intersectionality have become “illiberal, censorious and counterproductive” (p.155). He then goes on to claim that rather than providing an emancipatory ally of class politics, intersectionality has become engaged in a form of class discrimination, having become ‘gentrified’ by universities and middle-class activists. McGarvey believes that the ‘gentrification’ of intersectionality has excluded many from the socio-economically disadvantaged communities of the UK at the expense of other marginalised groups because they do not fit a preconceived and ‘approved’ model of disadvantage.

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