Transforming Poverty-Related Policy with Intersectionality

Canan Corus, Bige Saatcioglu, Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, Christopher P. Blocker, Shikha Upadhyaya, and Samuelson Appau
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Key Takeaways

​Intersectionality is a useful paradigm to investigate the complex and dynamic nature of poverty. 

Policy-related poverty research needs to consider the mutually constitutive facets of poverty.

The three types of intersectionality can help explore the invisibility of marginalized and disadvantaged groups.

​Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing​

The purpose of this article is to explore the theoretical and methodological benefits of the intersectionality paradigm in an effort to advance policy-related poverty research in marketing and consumer behavior.


This research was motivated primarily by the Transformative Consumer Research Conference, which took place at Villanova University in May 2015. In addition, the authors’ commitment to the public policy-related research and poverty studies helped develop the research agenda. The gaps in the existing poverty-oriented policy work and the pressing need to investigate the phenomenon of poverty with a more critical eye triggered the use of the intersectionality paradigm, which has been prove to be helpful in the study of marginalized groups.


This is a conceptual article that stands as a call for policy researchers and policy makers to consider intersectionality in the research, design, and implementation of poverty-alleviating initiatives. We first explicate the problem of policy invisibility and use an illustrative example. We then draw upon the theory and methods of intersectionality to develop an approach that can identify policy invisibility and enhance the effectiveness of poverty-related policy and interventions.


Effective poverty alleviation requires increasing investments and sophisticated policy. We assert that a large number of policies rely on single-factor triggers, such as low income or unemployment. Yet intersecting vulnerabilities often create life deprivations that are far greater than the sum of their single-factor parts and shape lived experiences in which one factor amplifies the experience of another deprivation. We propose that poverty research and policy making must be guided by the premise that the multiple factors associated with poverty can create a complex set of intersecting vulnerabilities.


An intersectional lens can help researchers and policy makers recognize the mutually constitutive facets of poverty and marginalization and interrogate the invisibility of disadvantaged populations. This approach brings novel insights by highlighting the heterogeneity of variables that shape the experience of poverty in life, consumption, and the marketplace. We select poverty and policy-relevant academic articles and expand their analyses through an intersectional lens. We synthesize our insights to propose a roadmap for analyzing policy for unaddressed needs and opportunities of the impoverished.

Questions for the Classroom

  • In what ways can the three types of intersectionality help inform the study of disadvantaged consumer groups?
  • What is missing from the existing approaches to public policy and how can the intersectionality paradigm help fill the gaps?

Article Citation

Canan Corus, Bige Saatcioglu, Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, Christopher P. Blocker, Shikha Upadhyaya, and Samuelson Appau (2016), "Transforming Poverty-Related Policy with Intersectionality," Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 35 (2), 211-222.


Canan Corus is Associate Professor of Marketing, Pace University (e-mail:

Bige Saatcioglu is Associate Professor of Marketing, Ozyegin University (e-mail:

Carol Kaufman-Scarborough is Professor of Marketing, Rutgers School of Business–Camden (e-mail:

Christopher P. Blocker is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Colorado State University (e-mail:

Shikha Upadhyaya is Assistant Professor of Marketing, California State University, Los Angeles (e-mail:

Samuelson Appau is Lecturer in Marketing, RMIT University (e-mail:

Author Bio:

Canan Corus, Bige Saatcioglu, Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, Christopher P. Blocker, Shikha Upadhyaya, and Samuelson Appau
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