Looking forward to the past. Different perspectives on poverty and their impact on research and policy-making

Prof. Jan Vranken, University of Antwerp

‘What has to be remembered is that policy prescriptions permeate conceptualization, measurement and the formulation of theory; alternatively, that the formulation of theory inheres within the conceptualization and measurement of a problem and the application of policy. (Townsend, 1979: 61).

Which are the (six) basic perspectives from which poverty is perceived? Do they inspire theoretical frameworks (definitions included)? Do they inspire models of policy-making? Does policy-making take account of theoretical frameworks, in spite of their higher degree of sophistication? Why are some of them more (or less) popular than others with policy-makers? Do forms of ‘poverty governance’ imply specific definitions/theories of poverty?

Are recent approaches that innovative? Why are facts (statistics, results of empirical research) becoming less popular with policy-makers (politicians) and the general public?



About the speaker

Prof Jan Vranken PhD in political and social sciences (University of Antwerp, 1977) with a dissertation on 'Poverty in the Welfare State. A historical and structural interpretation'.

He spent his whole academic career at the University of Antwerpen (1968 to 2009). Emeritus Full Professor since 2009.

He taught courses on General Sociology, on Sociology of Inequalities, on Social Problems, on Urban Sociology and on Poverty and Social Exclusion at his own university and, as a visiting professor, at the Universities of Maastricht and Cologne.

As a researcher, he founded the Centre OASeS (Centre on Poverty, Social Exclusion and the City - www.oases.be) of which he remains a member. His national and international projects covered a broad range of topics relate with poverty, exclusion, social economy, and urban studies. At the European level, he coordinated a FP5-project on ‘Urban Development Programmes, Urban Governance, Social Inclusion and Sustainability’ (UGIS, 2000-2003) and a FP7-project on ‘The Role of FBOs in the field of social exclusion in an urban context’ (FACIT, 2008-2010).

Since 2010 he is active as an independent researcher (CASUM). Recent poverty-related projects are:

-          Expert for FEAD (Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived) since 2016.

-          Co-editor of the federal Yearbooks ‘Poverty in Belgium’ (in Dutch and French) – 7th edition in October 2017.

-          Independent expert for the EU peer review on ‘Social community teams (SCTs) against poverty in the Netherlands’ (2015-2016).

He was/is keynote speaker or chairperson at many international conferences and was/is invited to many expert seminars related to his research fields.

In 2005, he was awarded the prestigious national Franqui Chair by the Université Catholique de Louvain.



Date: 15 November 2018

Time: 12:00 - 13:00


UNU-MERIT