Poverty is a relative concept that is most meaningful within the context of social inequality in a particular culture. Among pastoralists in east Africa, often with mixed economies and herds that tend to fluctuate erratically over time, the problem of assessing poverty and wealth can be resolved by examining profiles of polygyny to provide a comparable index of wealth. Several profiles are examined in relation to a mathematical model based on the binomial series, with an emphasis on its social rather than mathematical implications. These series are especially apt because they closely follow the distribution of wives in a substantial sample of African societies, and they reveal different types of balances between competition and conformity associated with age and with status. The purpose of this essay is to redefine the problem of poverty in terms of the social profiles of inequality, leading toward a comparative analysis between cultures.
A problem of comparison
Addressing Inequality and Neoliberalism
Teresa Marie Mares and Alison Hope Alkon
In this article, we bring together academic literature tracing contemporary social movements centered on food, unpacking the discourses of local food, community food security, food justice, and food sovereignty. This body of literature transcends national borders and draws on a rich genealogy of studies on environmental justice, the intersections of race, class, and gender, and sustainable agro-food systems. Scholars have emphasized two key issues that persist within these movements: inequalities related to race and class that shape the production, distribution, and consumption of food, and the neoliberal constraints of market-based solutions to problems in the food system. This article claims that food movements in the United States would be strengthened through reframing their work within a paradigm of food sovereignty, an approach that would emphasize the production of local alternatives, but also enable a dismantling of the policies that ensure the dominance of the corporate food regime. The article concludes by offering a critical analysis of future research directions for scholars who are committed to understanding and strengthening more democratic and sustainable food systems.
International migration in the contemporary era of globalization generates complex inequalities that require a non-statist approach to justice. This paper considers how the analysis of these inequalities may be fruitfully undertaken using Nancy Fraser’s framework of redistribution, recognition, and representation. The discussion uses empirical material from a case study of Ethiopian women who migrate as domestic workers to countries in the Middle East. The paper suggests potential directions for more transformative approaches to justice within the context of international migration.
A Symptom of Gender Inequality for Girls Living with Poverty
Zainul Sajan Virgi
Abject female intergenerational poverty is a systemic issue which denies girls the opportunity to access a higher quality of life because of poor health that results in under-development. The article focuses on the root cause-gender inequality-that is responsible for their inability to access adequate nutrition, particularly during their critical period of physical and intellectual growth and development. Their resulting sub-standard health has a bad impact on their school attendance. This article follows the lives of a group of ten girls between the ages of ten and fourteen years living in a peri-urban community outside Maputo. It outlines the importance of engaging girls, through participatory methodologies, and giving them the opportunity to express themselves, their challenges, strengths and ideas for possible resolution of the problem.
The ill-fitting pieces in the EU’s development partnerships
Riina Pilke and Marikki Stocchetti
English abstract: 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 official 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 differentiation. The scope of the differentiated cooperation encompasses different types of developing countries, including a variety of both low-income countries (LICs) and middle-income countries (MICs). The article argues that differentiation 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 differentiation in diverse country contexts in both regards.
Spanish abstract: 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 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 abstract: 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.
Ethnographies of affirmative action
Alpa Shah and Sara Shneiderman
This is the introduction to a special section of Focaal that includes seven articles on the anthropology of affirmative action in South Asia. The section promotes the sustained, critical ethnographic analysis of affirmative action measures adopted to combat historical inequalities around the world. Turning our attention to the social field of affirmative action opens up new fronts in the anthropological effort to understand the state by carefully engaging the relationship between the formation and effects of policies for differentiated citizenship. We explore this relationship in the historical and contemporary context of South Asia, notably India and Nepal. We argue that affirmative action policies always transform society, but not always as expected. The relationship between political and socioeconomic inequality can be contradictory. Socioeconomic inequalities may persist or be refigured in new terms, as policies of affirmative action and their experiential effects are intimately linked to broader processes of economic liberalization and political transformation.
From a Gendered Organization to Inequality Regimes
This article offers an analytical review of the research on gender and the military in Israel since the 1970s. I argue that the research in this field has undergone a paradigmatic shift that is based on five analytical transformations: (1) a move from a binary gendered conception to intersectionality analysis; (2) a shift from a dichotomous perception of the military organization to an analysis based on 'inequality regime' theory; (3) an emphasis on women as agents of change and resistance; (4) a focus on men and militarized masculinities; and (5) macro-analysis of the significance of women's service in a militaristic society. The article concludes with a discussion of the current political dynamics and conflicts that shape both the construction of the military gender regime and the production of the research in this field.
Rick Turner on Morality, Inequality and Existentialism
This article employs Rick Turner’s Eye of the Needle, ‘What Is Political Philosophy?’, and ‘Black Consciousness and White Liberals’ as examples in the evolution of his existential attempts to proclaim and cultivate societal reform. Specific attention is paid to his interactions with moral ideology, intellectual inspirations like Sartre and Biko, and his dual ability to function utilising pragmatism alongside imagination. Ultimately, Turner’s philosophy remains salient today, given the political challenges arising in societies around the world, urging citizens to take a fresh look at his civic demands.
The case of Ukrainian reforms in higher education
Despite the diversity of socio-political and economic contexts, educational transformations in post-socialist states have some common trends: orientation towards the ‘West’ and denial of the socialist past; marketisation of higher education through the introduction and extension of paid services, as well as promotion of competition for public funding; economisation of higher education via adjustment to the amount of economic resources and labour market demand. In this article, I analyse how those trends have been reflected in political practices and public discourses in the case of Ukrainian higher education reforms since the ‘Euromaidan’ events in 2013–2014. The research shows that, in the Ukrainian case, concepts of orientation towards the ‘West’, marketisation and economisation of higher education are the key elements of local opinion makers’ political rhetoric that play a crucial role in the process of legitimisation of neoliberal reforms in higher education.
Women, inequality, and social reproduction
This article offers a critical ethnography of the reproduction of elites and inequalities through the lenses of class and gender. The successful transfer of wealth from one generation to the next is increasingly a central concern for the very wealthy. This article shows how the labor of women from elite and non-elite backgrounds enables and facilitates the accumulation of wealth by elite men. From covering “the home front” to investing heavily in their children’s future, and engaging non-elite women’s labor to help them, the elite women featured here reproduced not just their families, but their families as elites. Meanwhile, the aff ective and emotional labor of non-elite women is essential for maintaining the position of wealth elites while also locking those same women into the increasing inequality they help to reproduce.