Poverty: The Social Problem of All Time.


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores poverty as an enduring social problem, offering some critical understanding of what it means in the UK as both a concept and a lived experience. It begins by putting UK poverty in global context and considers some of its effects on people in British society, going on to explain the emergence of poverty as the focus of academic research and policy in 19th century England. The chapter then presents a range of definitions, measures and theories that have been put forward to elucidate what poverty is and what causes it, which in turn have influenced what has been put in place to address it. Examining some of the responses to poverty advocated by various political administrations and non-governmental organisations since World War 2, the chapter argues that the way poverty is understood alters according to the prevailing political, social and cultural context and in recent years there has been a propensity in the UK to attribute its causes and consequences to the individual flaws and imprudent choices of ‘the poor’ rather than the way in which society is structured and organised. The chapter goes in to explore some of the ways in which poverty has been represented by those with power and considers the relative powerlessness of people who live with poverty to contribute to any debate about how it might be addressed. The chapter considers the implications of this to the way people who live with poverty are perceived in society and how they perceive themselves. Finally, the chapter offers some thoughts on Universal Basic Income as a possible solution, ending with concluding comments intended to challenge the personal deficit discourse of poverty that dominates UK society today.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Social Problems in the UK: A Comprehensive Overview
EditorsSelwyn Stanley
Place of PublicationAbingdon
PublisherRoutledge, Abingdon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic) 9781003166887
ISBN (Print)9780367764203
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022


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