Poverty, 2nd Edition

Poverty remains one of the most urgent issues of our time. In this fully updated edition of her important and widely acclaimed intervention on the topic, Ruth Lister introduces readers to the meaning and experience of poverty in the contemporary world.

The book opens with a lucid discussion of current debates around the definition and measurement of poverty in industrialized societies, before embarking on a multifaceted exploration of its varied interpretations. Drawing on thinking in the field of international development and real-life accounts, the book emphasizes key aspects of poverty such as powerlessness, lack of voice, insecurity, loss of dignity and respect.

Ruth Lister embraces the relational, cultural, symbolic as well as material dimensions of poverty, and makes important links between poverty and other concepts such as capabilities, agency, human rights and citizenship. She concludes by making the case for reframing the politics of poverty as a claim for redistribution and recognition. The result is a rich and insightful analysis, which deepens and broadens our understanding of poverty today. It will be essential reading for all students in the social sciences, as well as researchers, activists and policymakers.

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  • February 2021
  • 256 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $74.95
  • 9780745645964
  • Paperback $26.95
  • 9780745645971
  • Open eBook $22.00
  • 9781509546336
Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Defining Poverty 
Chapter 2. Measuring poverty 
Chapter 3. Inequality, social divisions and the differential experience of poverty 
Chapter 4. Discourses of poverty: from Othering to respect 
Chapter 5. Poverty and agency: from getting by to getting organized 
Chapter 6: Poverty, human rights and citizenship 

Conclusion: From concept to politics
About the Author
Ruth Lister is a member of the House of Lords and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University.
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“Since 2004, Ruth Lister’s book has been the definitive text on poverty. This new edition is destined to replace the first as a must-have volume for anyone interested in social policy, and to become the go-to source whenever poverty is discussed.”
Robert Walker, Beijing Normal University and University of Oxford

“Ruth Lister offers a rare combination of great professional expertise and moral authority and an abiding commitment to ways of tackling poverty effectively. The result is a highly readable and unusually insightful book about shaping a decent and compassionate society.”
Philip Alston, former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

“For anyone who has an interest in understanding and tackling poverty be they a community worker, social worker, youth worker, think tank policy wonk, academics, local councillor or MP, this is an essential, comprehensive and rewarding read. I highly recommend that, along with putting regular shifts in at your local food bank, you find the time to purchase a copy and read it.”

“This book shows that even while political, media and popular discourses and attitudes can be deeply dehumanising, they can also heal and empower.”
ATD Fourth World UK

“Lister's book offers vital insight into how poverty is actually experienced. [… She] discusses redistribution of resources to address the material aspects of poverty, and recognition and respect to address the non‐material aspects of poverty so powerfully described in this important book.”
Child Poverty Action Group

“The first edition of Poverty has been a, if not the, key text on poverty since 2004; this new edition is likely to replace the first on the bookshelves of scholars, policy makers and practitioners concerned about poverty.”

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