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The Shame of Poverty$
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Robert Walker

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199684823

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684823.001.0001

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The Origins of Poverty

The Origins of Poverty

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 The Origins of Poverty
Source:
The Shame of Poverty
Author(s):

Robert Walker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684823.003.0001

This chapter argues that more attention should be paid to the psychosocial dimensions of poverty and notably to shame experienced as a result of living in poverty. Such shame is internally felt but structurally imposed by social institutions and by people who are not poor. Shame associated with poverty is painful, constrains human agency, and may contribute to the persistence of poverty. The chapter explains that poverty is a political construct and traces its origins to the writings of Confucius in China, to the Vedic culture of ancient India, and to philosophers and politicians in the ancient Graeco-Roman world. These ideas have been carried forward and only partially transformed by the vectors of religion and ideology including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, and secularism. Poverty has almost invariably been construed as a policy problem and very often as a consequence of the personal failings of the people affected by poverty.

Keywords:   poverty, shame, political, christianity, islam, hinduism, confucianism, secularism

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