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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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Poverty, Shame, and Stigma

Poverty, Shame, and Stigma

(p.49) 4 Poverty, Shame, and Stigma
The Shame of Poverty

Robert Walker

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between shame and stigma, considers the role of stigma in anti-poverty policy, and presents a model of the poverty–shame nexus incorporating stigma. The model postulates that the shame and stigma experienced by people in poverty leads to social exclusion, limited social capital, low self-worth, and a lack of agency that could all serve to prolong poverty. Shame and stigma are rarely discussed together in the same literatures. Whereas shame purports to enhance social cohesion, stigma is inherently divisive and is usually accompanied by negative discrimination causing individual pain but little if any collective benefit. Like shame, stigma is internally felt—often termed ‘personal stigma’—and imposed as ‘social stigma’. Institutional stigma, variously manifest in the framing, structure, and delivery of policy is often deliberately imposed as a punishment or deterrent to influence behaviour but is sometimes an unintended consequence of poor policymaking.

Keywords:   poverty–shame nexus, institutional stigma, social stigma, personal stigma, discrimination

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