Relative Poverty, British Social Policy Writing and Public Experience
Relative poverty, a concept developed by left-wing social scientists, categorises as ‘poor’ those who fall seriously behind normal nationwide material standards. This article argues that the widespread view that the word ‘poverty’ means ‘relative poverty’, which in left-dominated social policy academia often extends to implying that those who do not define poverty this way are necessarily misguided, has led to an incomplete portrayal of poorer British people's lived experience. The article examines published empirical work, before presenting findings from British Social Attitudes surveys and interviews with forty unemployed Jobseeker's Allowance claimants and thirty employed people. Both the existing and new findings exposed aspects of public attitudes and experience which resonate with unanswered academic criticisms of defining poverty as relative poverty. These public contributions have tended to be glossed over or treated dismissively by social policy authors, despite them attaching importance to Left-friendly aspects of poorer people's experience and attitudes.
My 70 in-depth interviews were funded by a British Academy small grant.
Citation : Dunn, A. (2017) Relative Poverty, British Social Policy Writing and Public Experience. Social Policy and Society, 16 (3), pp. 377-390
Peer Reviewed : Yes