1st Edition

Charity and Poverty in Advanced Welfare States

    206 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    206 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book conceptualises the role of charity to people who are poor in wealthy countries and outlines a set of practical and conceptual ideas for how it could be reimagined.

    Despite professionalised welfare states and strong economies, in many advanced industrialised nations, charity continues to play a major role in the lives of people who are poor. Extending what we know about how neoliberalism drives a decayed welfare state that outsources welfare provisioning to charities and community initiatives, this book asks how can we understand and conceptualise society’s willingness to engage in charitable acts towards the poor, and how can charity be reimagined to contribute to justice in an unjust society? Through interrogating multiple data sources, including government datasets, survey datasets, media analyses, and ethnographic data, this book shows that charity is not well-suited to addressing the material dimension of poverty. It argues the need for a revised model of charity with the capacity to contribute to social solidarity that bridges social divisions and is inclusive of the poor. Presenting a model for reimaging charity which enables reciprocity and active contributions from recipients and providers, this book shows how power imbalances flowing from the unidirectional provision of charity can be reduced, allowing opportunities for reciprocal care that foster both well-being and solidarity.

    This book will be of interest to all scholars and students of social policy, public policy, social welfare, sociology, and social work.

    1 The endurance of charity

    2 The practice of charity

    3 Neoliberalising charity

    4 Creating conditions for charity

    5 Cultivating charity

    6 Representing charity

    7 The meaning of helping

    8 The meaning of being helped

    9 Transforming charity


    Cameron Parsell is Professor of the Social Sciences at The University of Queensland, Australia. He is the author of The Homeless Person in Contemporary Society. His research focuses on understanding the experience of poverty and what societies do to address it. With an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, Cameron’s recent work examines charity and the Australian welfare state, with an aim of improving both.

    Andrew Clarke is an urban sociologist and Research Fellow at The University of Queensland, Australia. He researches urban governance, homelessness, and other forms of housing-related poverty. Andrew has written on the networks of agencies, interventions, and policies that are assembled around urban problems, such as homelessness or antisocial behaviour, and the ways in which these can be reconfigured to better support disadvantaged people.

    Francisco (Paco) Perales is Associate Professor of Sociology at The University of Queensland, Australia. His research uses longitudinal and life-course approaches and quantitative methods to enhance our understanding of social stratification in contemporary societies. Paco’s recent work has concentrated on identifying the drivers of socio-economic inequalities by socio-economic background, gender, and sexual orientation within Australian society.