17 May 2012Professor Ruth Levitas was interviewed about the '120,000 troubled families' for BBC Radio 4's More or Less programme which explores the facts behind figures in the news. The programme airs at 16.30 on Friday 18 May.
The item was triggered by Ruth's recent working paper for the ESRC project on Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK, 'There may be trouble ahead: what we know about those 120,000 troubled families'. Professor Levitas argues that if we interrogate the research on which the figure of 120,000 is based, it turns out to be a factoid, something that takes the form of a fact, but is not. It is used to support policies that in no way follow from the original research. The term troubled families discursively collapses families with troubles and troublesome families, while simultaneously implying that they are dysfunctional as families. This discursive strategy is successful in feeding vindictive attitudes to the poor.
The full paper can be read at: http://www.poverty.ac.uk/sites/default/files/trouble_ahead.pdf
You can listen to the interview with Professor Ruth Levitas via BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01hl4h2