Friday, August 31, 2018

This Is What Inequality Looks Like

This collection of closely-linked essays by sociologist Teo You Yen challenges the reader to look closely at the portrait of poverty and inequality in Singapore. It is not a pretty sight, the precarious existence of many Singaporeans living in the richest country in Asia. How did we get here? The book has many answers, big and small, the most important of which is that poverty is not an exception to the much-touted system, but is, rather, the result of the structures, policies, and procedures pursued by government and people to increase wealth. Poverty is the result of inequality. Teo describes with sympathetic insight and keen detail the lives of Singaporeans living in poverty. She is an excellent writer whose expositions are lucid and descriptions vivid. Significantly, she locates herself in her study, as a means of contrasting her better position (university professor, married with children) with that of the disadvantaged. What would hammer home her argument is a companion volume describing the lives of the super-rich in Singapore and relating these lives to the multifarious and unearned privileges and advantages they receive from the system. A sociological study of the crazy rich Asians.

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