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Week 13 Memo questions

## Week 13
1. What standard(s) of knowledge should be used to designate a development approach as a best practice? Discuss two to three standards.
2. Ohmer and Korr (2006) reviewed 269 total studies. 20 of these were quantitative studies and further only 9 with control/comparison group. What does this tell you about the nature of knowledge in community practice?
3. Assuming you are leading an agency and you have a budget to build capacity for research and evaluation among your social work staff. How would you proceed?

Week 12 Memos

## Week 12
1. Small et al make a strong case that careful study of culture can and should be a “permanent component of the poverty research agenda”. In other words, culture plays a role in explaining why people are poor. Can you recount a professional example where you observed how culture, as used by Small et al, played a role in explaining poverty?
2. Based on the first two sentences in question 1. Do you agree or disagree with Small et al that culture plays a role in explaining why people are poor? Use three points to support your position.
3. Mani et al present an altogether different reason for poverty, i.e., that economic instability reduces limited cognitive resources that leads to decisionmaking and behaviors that may reinforce poverty. Some have called this a “scarcity” argument. How do you make sense of these competing arguments – culture and scarcity? How will they inform your practice?
4. Richard Florida argues for an economic development policy based on diversity and creativity. Explain with 2-3 points why you agree or disagree with his argument. Comment specifically on how it will affect poverty.

Week 11 Memos

## Week 11
1. Pg. 324 of the Sen reading in DeFellipis states: “In so far as freedom is seen to be intrinsically important, the observation of the chosen functioning bundle cannot be in itself an adequate guide for the evaluative exercise, even though the freedom to choose a better bundle rather than a worse one can be seen to be, in some accounting, an advantage even from the perspective of freedom.” Explain in your weekly memo what this passage means to you as a social worker who is interested in reducing poverty.
2. Chaskin defines community capacity as the “interaction of human capital, organizational resourcs, and social capital existing within a given community that be leveraged to so solve collective problems and improve or maintain the well-being of a given community. It may operate through informal social processes and/or organized effort.” P. 295 Do you feel this is a useful definition? Why or why not?

Week 10 memo questions

## Week 10
1. Midgley and Livermore explain that social capital is not an “explanatory model”. Why is this important/not important for social work intervention to fight poverty?
2. Can you think of an intervention that builds social capital? Briefly explain. More importantly, do you think that social work/poverty interventions should invest more or less in interventions that purport to promote social capital. Explain with 2-3 points.
3.  How might access to higher education relate to concepts of social development and asset building?

Week 9 Memo questions

## Week 9
1. Sherraden makes a strong case that assets matter for well-being. To what extent do you see asset-based approaches to anti-poverty strategies in Quebec / Canada? If you do not see any examples, speculate why not.
2. The asset-based approach to social welfare policy is a social work contribution to poverty intervention. What are the most compelling arguments for asset policy? What concerns do you have about asset-based approaches to poverty?
3. We have spent considerable time this semester discussing different poverty measures. Describe 2-3 takeaways from my presentation on asset poverty measurement in Canada. Indicate any questions that remain.

A Reflection on the Public Goods Game

In a class exercise which required a deck of cards, our class participated in an activity aimed to start a discussion regarding the rationale and strategy behind the choice to contribute to the good of the public or to act in our own self-interest.

The instructions for the game were simple. We were each given four cards, two red and two black. For each round, we were to keep two cards, and to give away two cards to the collective pool. The collective pool represented public goods, which would ultimately benefit all of us. The red cards had monetary value which was four times greater when one kept the red card, rather than giving it to the collective pool (i.e., if you kept the  red card it would be worth $4 for each red card. In the collective pool it would be worth $1). Everyone would receive the amount that was gathered in the collective pool at the end of each round; that is, if there were $10 in the collective pool, everyone would receive $10 each.

This game naturally created an internal conflict. The wealth of the collective or public would be much greater if all individuals gave away their red cards to the collective pool. This would also lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. However, the benefit for the individual is much greater when both red cards are kept.

This activity led to the discussion of several key points. The first was trust. After a couple of rounds we had a chance to discuss as a group, how we could strategize so that we could all benefit equally. Although we came to a decision to give both our red cards away, this was not carried out by everyone. Once we saw that not everyone was cooperating, and that it became evident that there were free riders in our group, we began to trust each other less, which led to a steady decline in the number of red cards in the collective pool. Although not as relevant for this activity, the issue of trust also extends further to not only among individuals in the society, but to those individuals or institutions that have the power to redistribute the contributions back to the public. If we do not trust that we will ultimately benefit from the contributions that we make to the public, individuals are less likely to voluntarily contribute to the collective pool.

Moreover, when the value of the red cards decreased (i.e., from $4 to $2), individuals were more likely to contribute voluntarily to the collective pool. However, ultimately, because of the inequality in the individual contribution to the public good, those who contributed the most were left with the least. For me, this activity demonstrated the interdependence of individual and collective wealth and well-being. Our decisions are not only based on our personal values of equity and justice, but the decisions of others, as we struggle to find the balance between the benefits of acting in self-serving ways, and making decisions that contribute to the greater good of the society.

ISID speaker series

McGill’s Institute for the Study of International Development has a pretty amazing set of speakers lined up this month and next.

Some of these talks seem to go along well with the material from 626. Two of particular interest are:

Oct 17: 10:00-11:30 am. PETH 116
Ravi Kanbur, Economics, Cornell University – Applied Economics and Management: “Can a Country be a Donor and a Recipient of Aid?”

Nov 8: 12:00-1:30 pm. Arts 230
Carmen Diane Deere, Economics, University of Florida – Gender and Development; Latin America: “Property Rights and the Gender Distribution of Wealth in Ecuador, Ghana and India”

Week 8 memo questions

## Week 8
1. Midgley advocates for the social developmental perspective. To what extent does this philosophy allign with the “activation” policies discussed in class by Plante week 6? Provide at least three key points.
2. By now each student should have decided the context of their poverty manifesto. Use this week’s memo to articulate why the social developmental perspective is useful or not useful in your chosen poverty context.
3. What are the necessary conditions for effective implementation of social developmental policies? Considerations: demographics, politics, inequality, macroeconomic factors, history, etc.

Week 7 Memo questions

## Week 7
1. Ostrom et al introduces us to the idea of common pooled resources (CPR) and how they can be managed. Much of the discussion focuses on solving the CPR problem of free riding. Further, they argue that when individuals face a public good problem are able to communicate, sanction one another, and make new rules then rational choice models no longer predict. Extrapolate what this means for understanding poverty and poverty reduction. Provide at least 3 concrete connections.
2. North defines institutions as “Humanly devised constraints that structure human interaction and that exist to reduce the ubiquitious uncertainty arising from that interaction.” (p. 10). Provide two contemporary examples of institutions that facilitate and 2 that impede development.

Week 6 memo questions

## Week 6 ###
1. Fortin et al show that experiencing child abuse increases the risk of social exclusion (5.2 %points) and deep social exclusion (3%points). The authors do not offer a theory for this relationship. Briefly explain how childhood trauma might affect poverty and development.
2. This is the first known study of social exclusion in Canada. As an emerging professional working on poverty and development: (1) how does this paper inform your work? and (2) what additional question(s) would be most important for you to address?
3. Proulx et al show us that in 2008-2009, Quebec spends approximately 3 x the % of GDP on family support and other expenditures compared to Alberta. Based on these expenditures and what you know about the socio-economic realities in Quebec, would you (a) continue funding at this same level, (b) reduce funding, or (c) increased funding as a % of GDP? In your explanation mention at least one tradeoff/consequence to your position.
Slides to accompany Proulx et al. can be found here Internal diversity in social policy regimes.

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