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British Academy Lectures 2014-15$
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Janet Carsten and Simon Frith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265987

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265987.001.0001

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‘To count for nothing’: Poverty beyond the statistics

‘To count for nothing’: Poverty beyond the statistics

British Academy Lecture1 read 5 February 2015

(p.139) ‘To count for nothing’: Poverty beyond the statistics
British Academy Lectures 2014-15

Ruth Lister

British Academy

Beyond the statistics that tend to dominate much public debate, a focus on the experience of poverty, drawing on psychosocial analysis, reveals its relational as well as material nature. The article explores this understanding of poverty with reference to the impact of the discourses that shame and Other ‘the poor’ who ‘count for nothing’. It argues for acknowledgement of the agency of people who live with poverty and the structural constraints and insecurity within which it is exercised. This, together with a human rights perspective, premised on a belief in human dignity, can help to frame counter-discourses of recognition and respect. The article ends with some brief reflections on implications for policy and the politics of poverty.

Keywords:   agency, dignity, human rights, insecurity, Othering, poverty, psychosocial, recognition, respect, shame

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