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Research report

Social Environment and the Fight against Poverty

Our research was conducted on two sub-populations, identified in a previous study as being particularly disadvantaged and living in three territories of the Quebec City region: men between the ages of 45 and 64 (downtown) and single-parent families (downtown and in two disadvantaged neighbourhoods outside of the downtown area). Using a qualitative and quantitative approach, our aim was to improve our knowledge of poverty and social exclusion, as well as the risk and protection factors found in the three local environments.

The goal of these propositions is to counter the undermining of individuals, their families and communities.

Our results indicate that in addition to being alone, certain groups live with problems which appear insurmountable. The circumstances at the origin of this state of privation are social as well as material in nature. Certain dynamics at various times of life (dysfunctional family of origin, trouble adapting to school, difficult conjugal relations, etc.) contribute to vulnerability and promote exclusion, while interventions at certain moments and under certain conditions or certain other factors (support for resources, access to decent housing, etc.) could contribute to resilience in disadvantaged individuals and groups, thus reducing health inequalities and breaking the cycle of poverty.

The propositions that we have formulated concern the conditions at the origin of poverty and social exclusion, and to their reproduction within families and living environments. Some apply to local environment (community development), while others pertain to policy and public services (housing, jobs, accompaniment services). The goal of these propositions is to counter the undermining of individuals, their families and communities, to prevent them from becoming vulnerable and sinking into or remaining in conditions of poverty and social exclusion. These propositions aim at creating social bonds which promote a feeling of individual and community control and resilience, seen not as an individual characteristic, but as a skill acquired through interaction with a social environment.


Main researcher: Maria De Koninck, Université Laval

Original title: La pauvreté et l'exclusion sociale, leur genèse et leur réduction : le rôle déterminant des milieux de vie

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