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Queen's University - WMNS 421

Gender and Poverty - Women's Studies 421 - Fall 2007

Fridays 11:30 – 2:30, Kingston Hall 204


Instructor:  Margaret Little

Telephone: 533-6000 x 74930


Office: Mac-Corry D510

Office Hours: Fridays 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.



WMNS 421 is designed to provide an indepth exploration of poverty issues.   First, we will address the different types of low-income people in our society: working poor and welfare poor.   We will pay attention to how race and sexuality complicate issues of poverty.    We will explore two particular impoverished groups: the homeless and the imprisoned.   Finally, we will see that poor people are actively engaged in attempting to improve their lives through anti-poverty organizing.



Courseware Kit available at the AMS Copy Centre

Purchase one of the following books for the Book Review at the Campus Bookstore or download and print the report:




  • Gender & Poverty Module    25%

  • Book Review            30%

  • Group Presentation        25%

  • Participation            20%


Students are advised that applications for "Incomplete" standing must be made in the first instance to the instructor on the form available in the General Office. The simple fact of non-submission of work does not constitute an application and will result in a grade of zero for that assignment.

Students who feel that there are reasons to have their grades reviewed should follow the steps set out in the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Regulation 11, “Review of Grades and Examinations.”

Students are expected to support and uphold the fundamental values of academic integrity.   See Regulation 12 of the Regulations and Policies of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) provides important academic resources online

The ease of sending emails makes it tempting to send off inquiries to your professor. Email can be a fast and practical way to manage some types of communication, and I am  happy to be accessible to you. However, it is distressing and inefficient for teaching staff to be faced with emails about such issues as room location, exam schedule, and other routine information that is readily available to you from other sources. It is also strongly recommended to discuss such things as health or academic problems in person or by phone.  I will hold regular office hours and are willing to book appointments at other times as well.  I will provide important announcements and information pertaining to the course through email.

Schedule and Required Readings

WEEK 1 – September 14th - Introduction

WEEK 2 – September 21st - Introduction to Poverty


Jean Swanson, “What poor people say about poor-bashing,” Poor Bashing: the Politics of Exclusion, Between the Lines, Toronto, 2001, pp. 9-28.

bell hooks, “Solidarity with the Poor,” Where We Stand: Class Matters, Routledge, New York, 2000, pp. 121-130.

Mel Hurtig, “A Nation of Hypocrites,” Pay the Rent or Feed the Kids, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1999, pp. 2-53.

Ruth Lister, “Inequality, Social Divisions and the Differential Experience of Poverty,” Poverty, Polity Press, Cambridge, U.K., 2004, pp. 51-73.

Ruth Lister, “Discourses of Poverty: From Othering to Respect,” Poverty, pp. 99-123.

Film: East Side Showdown,1998 (46 min)

WEEK 3 – September 28th - The Working Poor


Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, “Current and Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates for Experienced Adult Workers in Canada.”

Jan Wong, “Coming Clean,” The Globe and Mail, 1 April 2006.

Jan Wong, “Modern Times,” The Globe and Mail, 8 April 2006.

Jan Wong, “Cinder Sam and Benderella,” The Globe and Mail, 15 April 2006.

Jan Wong, “Maggie and Me,” The Globe and Mail, 22 April 2006.

Jan Wong, “Goodbye to all that,” The Globe and Mail, 29 April 2006.

Leah F. Vosko, “‘No Jobs, Lots of Work’: The Rise of the Temporary Employment Relationship and the Emergence of Workfare-Driven Social Policy,” Temporary Work: the Gendered Rise of a Precarious Employment Relationship, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2000, pp. 230-250.

Task Force on Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults, “Time for a Fair Deal,” Toronto City Summit Alliance, May 2006, pp. 1-49.

Film:  The Take, 2004 (87 min)

WEEK 4 – October 5th - The Welfare Poor


Robert Janelle, “$23 a week,” Kingston Whig-Standard, 1 April 2006.

National Council of Welfare Reports, “Welfare Incomes 2004,” National Council of Welfare, Ottawa, 2005, pp. 9-32, 92-94, 106-108.

Margaret Little, “A Litmus Test for Democracy: The Impact of Ontario Welfare Changes on Single Mothers,” Studies in Political Economy, Volume 66, Autumn 2001, pp. 9-36.

Elaine M. Power, “The Unfreedom of Being Other: Canadian Lone Mothers’ Experiences of Poverty and ‘Life on the Cheque,’” Sociology, Vol. 39, No. 4, October 2005, pp. 643-660.

Jean Swanson, “Resisting Workfare,” in Workfare: Ideology for a New Under Class, Eric Shragge, ed., Garamond, Toronto, 1997, pp. 149-170.

Film:  Regina Women’s Construction Cooperative (8 min)

POLS 318 video on single mothers, 2006 (17 min)

WEEK 5  - October 12th - Gender & Poverty Module - Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine and the Ontario Women's Health Council


 This assignment is worth 25 per cent of the final course grade.   This assignment is to assess how you apply your readings for the course to the Gender & Poverty module.  Register for the portfolio.  Make sure you enter your email address in the portfolio box on the left navigation bar when you are working on the module, this will log your time on the module and answers in a PDF for submission.  Do the Poverty Module online and then print up your answers (the portfolio from the website) and hand in Friday October 19th at the beginning of class. 

Extensions will only be granted for reasons of personal difficulties or ill health.  In the latter case, a medical certificate must be produced before the assignment is due.  Late submissions will have 5% deducted from the final grade for every day past the due date, up to the value of the assignment.

The module has the following components:

  1. Introduction   Hint: You will find it important to familiarize yourself with the readings for Weeks 4, 8 and 9 in order to adequately answer the questions.

  2. Poverty and Childhood

  3. Poverty and Adolescence

  4. Poverty and Reproductive Health  Hint:  You will find it important to familiarize yourself with the readings from Weeks 7 and 9 and Mosher, Evans, Little, Morrow, Boulding & VanderPlaats, “Walking on Eggshells

  5. Poverty in Adulthood  Hint:  You will find it important to familiarize yourself with the readings for Weeks 3, 4 & 6. 

  6. Poverty and Aging

  7. Conclusion

Please note:

  • Please ensure that you do all of the quizzes attached to each sub-section of the module.  

  • When you have completed the module, please print up your answers to hand in.

  • It is crucial to use and make reference to the course readings as much as possible in this assignment. 

  • The purpose of this assignment is to integrate book learning with interactive learning for a more comprehensive and compassionate understanding of poverty.   Course readings may be cited in the following manner right in the text of your assessment: (Author date, page number) i.e.  (Little 2006, p. 10)

  • Please Note:  It is important to pay attention to page restrictions for this assignment.   Clearly, this is an assignment about quality, not quantity. 

  • Please keep a copy of your Gender & Poverty Module for your own files.

  • Included with the print-up of the module please include your three pages of recommendations.

Recommendations - Based on the course readings and your knowledge from the Gender & Poverty Module you are now asked to make recommendations to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for important changes to Canada’ social policies.

  1. Outline three recommendations you would make to change the welfare system.  (1 page)

  2. Explain three recommendations you would make to change the health care system. (1 page)

  3. Canada is one of the only industrialized countries that does not have a social housing policy.  Name three components of your ideal national social housing policy.  (1 page)

Explain in detail how each of these recommendations would be helpful.  These recommendations may include changes to the workplace or the educational system. 

WEEK 6 – October 19th - Race and Poverty


Michael Ornstein, “Ethno-Racial Groups in Toronto, 1971-2001: A Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile,” Institute for Social Research, York University, January 2006, pp. 67-91 and appendices.

bell hooks, “Class and Race: The New Black Elite,” Where We Stand: Class Matters, Routledge, New York, 2000, pp. 88-101.

David Zucchino, “Introduction” and “Chapter 1,” Myth of the Welfare Queen, Scribner, New York, 1997, pp. 13-42.

Daiva K. Stasiulis and Abigail B. Bakan, “Negotiating Citizenship in an Era of Globalization,” Negotiating Citizenship: Migrant Women in Canada and the Global System, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2005, pp. 11-39.

Nandita Sharma, “Canada’s Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Program (NIEAP): The Social Organization of Unfreedom for ‘Migrant Workers’,” Home Economics: Nationalism and the Making of ‘Migrant Workers’ in Canada, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2006, pp. 104-138.

Film:  Poverty Outlaw, 1997 (60 min)


Sexuality and Poverty


Vednita Carter and Eveline Giobbe, “Duet: Prostitution, Racism and Feminist Discourse,” Hastings Women’s Law Journal, Vol. 10, 1999, pp. 37-57.

Michael James Higginis and Tanya L. Coen, “Streets, Bedrooms, and Patios: The Ordinariness of Diversity in Urban Oaxaca,” Streets, Bedrooms, and Patios, University of Texas Press, Austin, 2000, pp. 1-20

Elizabeth Clare, “Losing Home,” in Queerly Classed: Gay Men and Lesbians Write about Class, Susan Raffo, ed., South End Press, Boston, 1997, pp. 15-27.

Joanna Kadi, “(Un)Common Justice,” in Out of the Class Closet: Lesbians Speak, Julia Penelope, ed., The Crossing Press, Freedom, CA, 1994, pp. 441-449.

rita d. brown, “Just the Facts, Ma’m (notes from a conversation with Chrystos),” Out of the Class Closet: Lesbians Speak, pp. 435-440.

Viviane K. Namaste, “Access Denied: The Experiences of Transsexuals and Transgendered People with Health Care and Social Services in Toronto,” In Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2000, pp. 157-189.

WEEK 8 – November 2nd - Homelessness


Check out: Cathy Crowe’s profile

Anthony Marcus, “Who are the Homeless, Really?” Where have all the homeless gone? Berghahn Books, New York, 2006, pp. 13-19.

Jack Layton, Homelessness: the making and unmaking of a crisis, Penguin, Toronto, 2000, pp. 35-63.

Cathy Crowe, Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out, Between the Lines, Toronto, 2007, pp. 2-30.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, “Fast Fax Rental Market Report: Kingston,” CMHC, 2003, pp. 1-2.

Film:  Shelter from the Storm, 2001 (55 min)

WEEK 9 – November 9th - Food Security


Graham Riches, First World Hunger: Food Security and Welfare Politics, Macmillan Press, London, 1997, pp. 1-14.

Chokey Tsering, HungerCount 2005, Canadian Association of Food Banks, Toronto, 2005, pp. 1-14.

Caulette McBride and Karen Thorpe, Can These People Afford to Eat Well? Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Health Unit, September 2005, pp. 1-14.

Sherilyn MacGregor, “Feeding Families in Harris’ Ontario: Women, the Tsubouchi Diet and the Politics of Restructuring,” Atlantis, Vol 21.2, Spring/Summer 1997, pp. 93-110.

Valerie Tarasuk and Joan M. Eakin, “Charitable food assistance as symbolic gesture: an ethnographic study of food banks in Ontario,” Social Science & Medicine, 56 (2003), pp. 1505-1515.

Film: “Supplement,” In RECAP: Images of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (8:25) – Available through OPIRG

WEEK 10 – November 16th   BOOK REVIEW DUE IN CLASS

Prison and Poverty


Ann Hansen, “Prisons are the Looking-Glass of Society: the struggle toward dignity for women,” Canadian Dimension, Vol. 36 #5, Sept/Oct 2002, pp. 30-33.

Angela Y. Davis, “Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex,” in Race and Resistance, Herb Boyd, ed., South End Press, Boston, 2002, pp. 53-59.

Yvonne Johnson, “Lifer’s Thoughts,” in Criminalizing Women, Gillian Balfour and Elizabeth Comack, eds., Fernwood, Halifax, 2006, pp. 282-285.

Gillian Balfour, “Introduction,” Criminalizing Women, pp. 154-173.

Lisa Neve and Kim Pate, “Challenging the Criminalization of Women Who Resist,” in Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison-Industrial Complex, Julia Sudbury, ed., Routledge, New York, 2005, pp. 19-32.

Karlene Faith and Ann Near, “When Welfare Isn’t Enough,” in 13 Women, Douglas and McINTYRE, Vancouver, 2006, pp. 51-71.

Film: Corporate Lockdown, 2001 (22 min)

WEEK 11 – November 23rd - Anti-Poverty Organizing


Paulo Freire, “Denouncing, Announcing, Prophecy, Utopia and Dreams,” Pedagogy of Indignation, Paradigm Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 2004, pp. 103-122.

Ruth Lister, “Poverty and Agency: From Getting By to Getting Organized,” Poverty, pp. 124-157.

Jonathan Greene, “‘Whatever it Takes’: Poor People’s Organizing, OCAP, and Social Struggle,” Studies in Political Economy, 75, Spring 2005, pp. 5-24.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, What is OCAP? An Introduction to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Toronto, 2006, pp. 1-2.

Tim Groves, Direct Action Casework Manual, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Toronto, 2003, pp. 1-7.

Film:  Another World is Possible, 2002 (24 min)

WEEK 12 – November 30th