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Title: A relational analysis of poverty as a social phenomenon
Author: Sambo, Cleopas Gabriel
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 1655
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Existing scholarship suggests that despite its material core, poverty is relational and that this relational dimension not only aids its production but its reproduction. Yet, while a plethora of research examines its material aspects, the relational dimensions of poverty remain under-researched and are still not well understood. This research contributes to addressing that gap. Using recognition theory as a theoretical lens, the thesis investigates the question: 'how do social relationships frame people's experience of poverty?' It explores the question through a qualitative case study of people in poverty in a rural district in Eastern Zambia. Zambia's deep values of community and high levels of poverty provided unique opportunities to examine the role of social relationships in the experience of poverty. The thesis shows that poverty is experienced as suffering involving psychological pain and ontological insecurity. Feelings and the fear of indignity and shame, based in social interaction, are central to poverty. However, this interaction may also insulate people in poverty from some of its consequences such as social exclusion. The thesis affirms poverty as based in forms of recognition accorded to individuals in various domains of their lives. It highlights how lack of recognition in institutional relationships, including citizenship status, underpins conditions of material deprivation which are then reinforced by insufficient recognition at the level of informal relationships. In this way, the work contributes new and unique insights into how poverty is inherently relational and lies at the intersection of processes of exclusion and subordinate inclusion. The thesis also furthers current theorising about poverty from a recognition standpoint by drawing attention to state-society relations in the experience of poverty and their effects on the identities and agency of people in poverty outside of high income countries where most previous research on this issue has taken place. This application of recognition theory reveals its potency as an intersubjective theory of poverty. However, the thesis argues for seeing recognition as a continuum which includes both symbolic and material experiences closely entwined. Broadly, this thesis argues the central importance of the relational dimensions of poverty, showing how they shape the quality of life of people in poverty including the forms of agency and voice that they can possess and enact. The thesis makes a contribution to the small but growing literature on the role of relationality in poverty and raises the question of what social relationships mean for people in poverty in different contexts.
Supervisor: Walker, Robert ; Chase, Elaine Sponsor: Commonwealth Scholarship Commision
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Multidimensional Poverty ; Recognition Theory ; Social Protection ; Relational Dimensions of Poverty ; Zambia