The research examines Amartya Sen's contention that shame is an attribute of poverty in all societies. Shame is believed to reduce a person's agency, the capacity to act constructively, and to increase social exclusion which, in turn, curtail economic development.
It will take place by in rural Uganda and India, urban China and UK and in small town Norway, supplemented by doctoral work in urban Pakistan, small town South Korea and, possibly, urban Germany.
The research has four elements:
- Exploration of cultural conceptions of poverty and shame through analysis of literature, film and, in Uganda, drama;
- Learning from people with direct experience of poverty through undertaking depth interviews with adults and children living in low income households.
- Examination of the role of the public in shaming poor people by conducting focus groups with persons of low-middle status and middle-high status and through statistical analysis of the World Values Survey.
- A policy analysis of social assistance and other anti-poverty programmes in order to identify language, policy structures and implementation practices likely to moderate or exacerbate any shame attached to being poor, leading to the preparation of a set of principles to inform the design of anti-poverty policy.