Photo: Volkshilfe OÖ

Stories of poverty

Creating spaces, filling them with life and meaning is a mission of the Department of Disruptive Disciplines (DDD). The Volkshilfe Upper Austria recently invited people to a reading in the DDD on a very important and current topic: poverty. In Austria, more children and young people are affected by poverty than Linz has inhabitants.

As early as 1932, the Austrian social researcher and psychologist Marie Jahoda conducted numerous life history interviews with women and men of the “working classes” born around 1850. Topics such as work and gender relations, mobility, precarious living conditions and the question of a “successful” life are addressed openly in the new Marie Jahoda edition as hardly ever before. Actress Martina Spitzer read from the book. After each text read, sociologist and Jahoda expert Dr. Meinrad Ziegler delved into the historical circumstances of the interviews conducted by Marie Jahoda. The chairperson of Volkshilfe Linz, Maria Dietrich, led through the evening.

With sung social criticism, the Viennese singer-songwriter Thomas Andreas Beck built a bridge to the present time. The sounds are dark. While the legs already want to dance, the head wants to understand the lyrics, to dive into the poetry. The large audience was visibly moved by the music and the haunting voice of Martina Spitzer. In the subsequent panel discussion, Nadine Bliem (expert on child poverty, Volkshilfe Upper Austria), Kerstin Müller (Diakonie Upper Austria) and Georg Hubmann (Marie Jahoda – Otto Bauer Institute) discussed the topic of child poverty. Afterwards, the discussion continued a little longer as the evening drew to a close with lard, curd cheese and potato cheese sandwiches from Kreisler*in.

Of course, Jahoda’s works and the Volkshilfe graphic novel “Overcoming Poverty” as well as CDs and records by Thomas Andreas Beck could be purchased at the book table for a donation. Everyone agreed: with 368,000 Austrian children and young people (about 33,000 of them in Upper Austria) currently living in poverty, it is high time to act.

The evening was a contribution to the demand “Abolish child poverty” – the donations of around 500 euros go without deduction to the fight against child poverty.