International Development Planning Review

The circumstances of agency: A relational view of poverty

International Development Planning Review (2008), 30, (4), 339–357.

Abstract

The human development paradigm that inspires the growing international consensus on poverty and development conceptually bounds our thinking about the problem of poverty and its solutions in particular and inappropriate ways. We question, among other things, the almost exclusive focus on individualistic wellbeing and ill-being, and the neglect of people's agency, in practice if not in theory. We propose to re-conceptualise freedom and poverty in relational terms. It is argued that by (re-)emphasising the relational character of un-freedom, we also put local political processes around the reproduction and reduction of poverty centre stage. We conclude with a brief overview of implications for policy and research on poverty.

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Author details

Herdt, Tom De

Bastiaensen, Johan