Moralising Poverty: The ‘Undeserving’ Poor in the Public Gaze, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Moralising Poverty

The ‘Undeserving’ Poor in the Public Gaze, 1st Edition

By Serena Romano


146 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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Do we judge the poor? Do we fear them? Do we have a moral obligation to help those in need? The moral and social grounds of solidarity and deservedness in relation to aid for poor people are rarely steady. This is particularly true under contemporary austerity reforms, where current debates question exactly who is most ‘deserving’ of protection in times of crisis. These arguments have accompanied a rise in the production of negative and punitive sentiments towards the poor.

This book breaks new ground in the discussion of the moral dimension of poverty and its implications for the treatment of the poor in mature welfare states, drawing upon the diverse political, social and symbolic constructions of deservedness and otherness. It takes a new look at the issue of poverty from the perspective of public policy, media and public opinion. It also examines, in a topical manner, the various ways in which certain factions contribute to the production of stereotyped representations of poverty and to the construction of boundaries between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ in our society. Case studies from the UK and Italy are used to examine these issues, and to understand the impact that a moralising of poverty has on the everyday experiences of the poor.

This is valuable reading for students and researchers interested in contemporary social work, social policy and welfare systems.

Table of Contents

Part I: The Moral Background of Poor Relief and Solidary in Public Policy

1. Introduction

2. The Origins of Deservedness: Idleness, Deviance and Discipline

3. The Moral Backgrounds of the Welfare State: Individualism and Solidarity in the British and Italian Contexts

4. A 'Trojan Horse': Morality Meets Austerity

Part II: Narratives of Deservedness

5. Under the Limelight: Parasites, Scroungers and Welfare Queens

6. A New Wave of 'Scroungerphobia'? Perceptions of Poverty in Times of Crisis

Part III: Insiders and Outsiders

7. Geographies of Solidarity

8. Blame It on the Stranger

About the Author

Serena Romano is a Research Fellow at the Department of Social Studies, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Health and Social Policy

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery