Neoliberalism and poverty

An unbreakable relationship

Authored by: Guy Feldman

Routledge International Handbook of Poverty

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367178666
eBook ISBN: 9780429058103
Adobe ISBN:


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Our understanding of why people are poor and how to overcome poverty reflects the broader political-economic dynamics that prevail at a particular historical moment. The dominant political-economic dynamics in recent decades are often defined as neoliberal. This chapter explores the relationship of neoliberalism to poverty and social welfare policies that affect poor people’s opportunities. The chapter argues that the ascendance of neoliberalism has introduced changes that are continuous with and simultaneously different from past discourses and interventions targeted at the poor.. After defining what neoliberalism is, the chapter highlights three interconnected features of neoliberalism and discusses their implications for poor people and social welfare policy. These features include: the restructuring of the welfare state, growing precarity and inequality, and the fabrication of entrepreneurial subjectivity. The chapter concludes by highlighting the kind of poverty politics that could emerge in response to processes of neoliberalization.

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