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Understanding Inequality

When you are designing a pilot music program, at some point you may find it useful to have at least a rudimentary grasp of issues around inequality and poverty, a complex and somewhat overwhelming area of study.

A good place to start is ‘ Key Issues in Poverty and Inequality:

Depending on where you want to initiate a program, you may want to read more at one of the following subheadings:

  • Children: Effects of family origins, family structure and family processes on opportunity.
  • Conflict, War and Instability. The relationship between poverty, inequality and violence. Sexual violence. Trafficking.
  • Crime and the legal system. Law as a source of inequality and as an instrument for reducing inequality. Prisons.
  • Disability as a cause and consequence of inequality.
  • Education: access to schooling and return to schooling.
  • Environment: unequal exposure to social and environmental threats, drugs and violence. Physical insecurity.
  • Gender: gender differences in education, occupation and income.
  • Health and mental health. Disparities in health and health care.
  • Discrimination against immigrants, assimilation of immigrants, immigrant policy.
  • Ethnic tension.
  • Land, housing and homelessness. Differential access to home ownership, causes and effects of homelessness.

Another way of understanding poverty is to identify what our basic needs are:

  • Food and adequate nutrition Healthy foods and eating habits.
  • Safe water No lead or other contaminants.
  • Safe, stable housing No lead in paint or pipes. No mold. Adequate heat and cooling. Safe neighborhood. Strong sense of community. Minimal air and soil pollution.
  • Adequate clothing and shoes that fit. Glasses as needed.
  • Access to information including speedy internet access.
  • Access to health care Preventive care: vaccines and regular exams, diagnostic, prenatal, family planning, dental, vision care.
  • Adequate pay Stable work and regular income, enough to cover housing, food, clothing and health care.
  • Good schools Good educational support services. Buildings are in good condition, with adequate facilities and supplies, and with a functional class size. If needed, there is educational support for parents. ESL classes if needed.
  • Strong community organizations and voice.
  • Opportunities A way out. Hope.
  • Strong support services and safety net Support for the disabled, the aging, the mentally challenged, special needs and single parent households. Services to address domestic violence. Mental health treatment.
  • Transportation Good, affordable public transportation.