Robert P. Fairbanks

in How It Works

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780226234083
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226234113 | DOI:

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Contrary to the claims of many policy scholars, the Kensington recovery house movement hardly shows an absence of civil society, good citizenship, and morality in poor neighborhoods. In conclusion, this book reveals that the contemporary state not only acquiesces to but effectively fosters, constitutes, and deepens its reliance on the Kensington recovery house as a highly localized and informal poverty management system. The book mobilizes three primary claims concerning the variegated functions of Kensington recovery houses. First, it illustrates how the recovery house operates as an elaborate street-level self-help mechanism of governmentality as operators and clients alike work toward the salvation and transformation of impoverished subjects. The second claim concerning the variegated functions of Kensington recovery houses reveals the recovery house movement as a decidedly political movement, driven by a particular vision of emancipation and by the deliberate efforts of informal operators to reappropriate segments of Philadelphia's welfare apparatus. Third, the book claims that the recovery house movement is at once an informal collective poverty survival mechanism, a mode of predatory subsistence, and a new mechanism of urban enclosure. It concludes with a thought exercise that asks whether, in the classic Philadelphia style of charming incompetence and chronic low self-esteem, the city is more “global” than even its beleaguered politicians are aware of.

Keywords: recovery houses; Kensington; poverty management; political movement; Philadelphia

Chapter.  4293 words. 

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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