Reviewing recent research on poverty in the United States, we derive a conceptual framework with three main characteristics. First, poverty is multidimensional, compounding material hardship with human frailty, generational trauma, family and neighborhood violence, and broken institutions. Second, poverty is relational, produced through connections between the truly advantaged and the truly disadvantaged. Third, a component of this conceptual framework is transparently normative, applying empirical research to analyze poverty as a matter of justice, not just economics. Throughout, we discuss conceptual, methodological, and policy-relevant implications of this perspective on the study of extreme disadvantage in America.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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