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The Causes of World Poverty

Some Reflections on Thomas Pogge’s Analysis

Luigi Caranti

While global poverty is the key moral problem of our times, social scientists are far from reaching a consensus on the causes of this disaster and philosophers disagree on the related responsibilities. One important contribution toward an enlarged understanding is offered by Thomas Pogge in World Poverty and Human Rights (2008). The present paper discusses critically Pogge's contribution and attempts to distinguish the valuable intuitions from the unwarranted conclusions that could be derived from them and that Pogge himself suggests at times. Foremost among these is the thesis that minor changes of the present global order would suffice to remove most world poverty. While it is sceptical about this strong conclusion, the paper confirms, unlike preceding discussions of World Poverty and Human Rights (Patten 2005: 19-27; Cruft 2005: 29-37; Anwander 2005: 39-45), the book's basic philosophical conclusion, namely, that affluent individuals and governments hold negative obligations toward the global poor.

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Riina Pilke and Marikki Stocchetti

[Full article is in English]

English: This article reviews the main policy guidelines set by the European Union (EU) for eradicating poverty and inequality in the context of its development cooperation partnerships. Drawing on the structure of the EU’s treaty, the EU’s offi cial development policies since 2005, and the related European Commission documents over the past five years, it examines the conceptions of poverty and inequality and how the EU translates them into operational diff erentiation. The scope of the diff erentiated cooperation encompasses diff erent types of developing countries, including a variety of both low-income countries (LICs) and middleincome countries (MICs). The article argues that diff erentiation poses a challenge to the EU’s internal development policy coherence. While the EU has adopted a multifaceted understanding of poverty, its conception of inequality is very narrow. In addition, the authors contend that the EU lacks clear criteria for diff erentiation in diverse country contexts in both regards.

Spanish: El propósito de este trabajo es revisar los principales lineamientos de política pública establecidos por la Unión Europea (UE) para la erradicación de la pobreza y la desigualdad en el contexto de sus asociaciones de cooperación al desarrollo. Con base en la estructura de los tratados de la UE, las políticas oficiales de desarrollo de la UE desde 2005, y los documentos relacionados de la Comisión Europea en los últimos cinco años, este artículo examina las concepciones de pobreza y desigualdad así como la traducción sistemática que hace la UE de dichos conceptos en una diferenciación funcional en sus asociaciones de cooperación al 22 Regions & Cohesion • Spring 2016 desarrollo. El alcance de la cooperación diferenciada abarca diferentes tipos de países en desarrollo, incluyendo una variedad de países con bajos y medios ingresos (LIC y MIC por sus siglas en inglés). El artículo sostiene que la diferenciación plantea un desafío a la coherencia de la política pública de desarrollo al interior de la UE. Mientras que la UE ha adoptado una comprensión multifacética de la pobreza, su concepción de la desigualdad es muy estrecha. Además, las autoras argumentan que la UE carece de criterios claros para una diferenciación que tome en cuenta las dimensiones tanto de pobreza como de desigualdad en diversos contextos de países.

French: L’objectif de ce texte consiste à passer en revue les principales lignes de politique publique de l’Union Européenne (UE) en matière de lutte contre la pauvreté et des inégalités dans le cadre de son partenariat de coopération pour le développement. A partir d’une révision des traités de l’UE, des politiques officielles de développement depuis 2005 et de documents de la Commission Européenne datant des cinq dernières années, l’article évoque les conceptions de la pauvreté et des inégalités et comment l’UE les traduit par une différenciacion opérative en matière de coopération pour le développement. La portée de la coopération differenciée inclut différents types de pays en développement, y compris divers pays à revenus bas et intermédiaires. Cet article défend l’idée que la différentiation présente un défi pour la cohérence de la politique de développement au sein de l’UE. Alors que celle-ci a adopté un point de vue multifacétique de la pauvreté, sa conception des inégalités est extrêmement limitée. Ainsi, les auteures affirment que l’UE manque de critères clairs pour établir une différenciation qui prenne en compte à la fois les dimensions de la pauvreté et les inégalités dans les différents contextes nationaux.

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Sunday Paul Chinazo Onwuegbuchulam and Khondlo Mtshali

In contemporary development and political studies the Capability Approach as proposed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum has become an alternative analytical framework used to conceptualize the promotion of well-being (‘capabilities’) in society. Notably, an important component of this framework is agency, which underscores the various ‘transformation mechanisms’ towards realising well-being in societies. This study straddles the area of political theory and development studies and seeks to contribute to the literature on the Capability Approach from a fresh perspective of the contest for agency between the different political stakeholders in society’s development arena. The study interrogates the agency roles of different stakeholders in society’s development focusing on the liberal-communitarian and the state-insociety debates on the politics of state from the perspective of the Capability Approach.

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Mireia Comas-Via

The social status of married women clearly changed when their husbands died. If we focus on the difficulties that widowhood entailed for women in Barcelona in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, we must include an analysis of their economic situation. The threat of poverty was constant, and in most cases, widows found it difficult to survive. It must be said that this direct link between poverty and widowhood existed only in the case of women: widowers were not similarly embattled. In other words, this was a sort of gendered poverty, because it was their status as “women without a man” that relegated widows to the social condition of the poor. Depending on their economic and social realities, the ways in which widows faced the inherent problems of widowhood and their ability to solve them were completely different.

*Article translated by Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel, Universitat de Barcelona, delfi.nieto@pangurbansl.com

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Assumptions matter

Reflections on the Kanbur typology

Paul Shaffer

In contradistinction to Ravi Kanbur's (2003) summarization of a recent conference on qualitative and quantitative poverty analysis in which he proposed a typology of differences between 'qual and quant' approaches, I argue that key elements in this typology are derivative of more basic distinctions in the philosophy of social science between three research programs: empiricism/positivism, hermeneutics, and critical theory/critical hermeneutics. The point is not simply of academic interest but has practical implications for aspects of poverty analysis, including numeric transformation of data, assessment of the validity of empirical findings, and inferring policy implications from research results.

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Quality in the Balance

On the Adaptive and Mimetic Nature of Subjective Well-Being

Thierry Kochuyt

‘Quality’ and ‘well-being’ are topical issues and part of their success is based on the suggestion that we have here hard and solid notions on which one can built a new and better society. As normative standards, they anticipate an ideal state from which the actual reality of things can be evaluated as deficient. In this light poverty appears as a sore phenomenon, an infringement of what the quality of life and well-being are all about. In an attempt to qualify this quality of life, the present article focuses on western poverty and its (lacking) sense of well-being. Turning these notions into norms, one should check if ‘quality’ and ‘well-being’ are transparent i.e., referring to unambiguous evaluations that can be assessed objectively. While common and moral sense supposes so, science has to doubt this assumption. The following is based on empirical research in different fields and some theoretical reflections. Bringing these together we try to identify the subjective mechanisms that trouble the notions of quality and well-being. Indeed, there are distorting forces at work, which create and abort the subjective experiences of quality and well-being and thereby nullify their evaluative potential.

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Tajik Male Labour Migration and Women Left Behind

Can They Resist Gender and Generational Hierarchies?

Mary Elaine Hegland

Poverty and unemployment send at least one million Tajiks to Russia for low-level labour migration. The migrants, mainly male, leave women behind to manage on their own. As a result, women have to work all the harder to try to feed themselves and their children, often against great odds. Male migrant labour to Russia, along with unemployment, alcoholism, drug dependency and other problems, also results in a shortage of marriageable males. This is a serious problem because Tajiks expect girls to marry early. Globalisation, poverty and male labour migration serve to exacerbate existing gender and generational hierarchies.

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M. Maksudur Rahman and Md. Assadekjaman

Rickshaw pullers are key to sustaining urban mobility in Dhaka city. Yet they are among the most marginalized members of society. Pullers live in precarious urban environments and struggle to rise out of a chronic poverty trap. In their work they face the daily challenges of restrictions on their activities, harassment from passengers and the traffic police, traffic jams and accidents. This article explores the factors which contribute to the unsustainable lifestyles of rickshaw pullers in Dhaka city. It suggests that rickshaw pullers might be supported better through licenses, economic incentives, and by prioritizing their contribution to improving Dhaka's traffic system.

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Andrea Brandolini

Between 2007 and 2013, real per capita income and net wealth of Italian households fell by 13 and 10 percent, respectively. Unprecedented in the country's post-war record by size and duration, this deterioration of household finances was accompanied by more muted changes in inequality and relative poverty. Only absolute measures of consumption and income insufficiency surged. The more serious worsening of personal economic conditions for the young than for adults and, especially, the elderly is a disturbing legacy of the recessions of 2008–2009 and 2011–2013.

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Re-siting corporate responsibility

The making of South Africa's Avon entrepreneurs

Catherine Dolan and Mary Johnstone-Louis

The bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) approach is championed as a way to deliver both corporate profits and poverty reduction. This article explores how “the poor” are repurposed as the instruments of ethical capitalism through the archetypal BOP model—Avon Cosmetics. A harbinger of “compassionate capitalism,” Avon has long stylized its entrepreneurial opportunity as a channel to a transcendent realm of self-actualization and social transformation. The company pursues this vision through a set of discourses and calculative practices that aim to produce industrious, self-disciplined, and empowered “entrepreneurs.” However, while BOP systems like Avon may provide a viable income stream for “poor” women, the practices through which women are “converted” into enterprising subjects can confound their intended “empowerment” effects. The article suggests that while targeting the “bottom of the pyramid” may elide the distinction between the maximization of profit and the imperatives of sustainable development, devolving corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the “entrepreneurial poor” raises questions about the implications of “making poverty business.”