Poverty and 'Shame'; Small-Scale Technology in India

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Poverty and 'Shame' - shame was once described as the 'irreducible core' of poverty by Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen. Laurie Taylor looks at new cross cultural research which examines the psycho-social consequences of being poor in countries as diverse as Britain, Pakistan and South Korea. Elaine Chase, Research Officer at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford, considers the way that shame and stigma have been experienced by British people receiving welfare aid throughout history. She found that feelings of unworthiness, guilt and shame were common. In the current day, her study found that poor people accepted that 'other peoples' poverty was the result of personal failures rather than structural factors. The only alibi for their present circumstances was to deflect blame on to the 'undeserving' poor. She's joined by Sohail Choudhry, Research Assistant, also at the University of Oxford, whose Pakistan based interviews offered a contrasting perspective. Pakistanis on the 'breadline' also felt shame, but were also more inclined to blame the government and the 'big guns' for their reduced state.

Also, Professor of History, David Arnold, describes the impact of small scale technology on modern India. How the sewing machine, bicycle and typewriter reinvented every day life and work leading to new ways of thinking about the politics of colonial rule and Indian nationhood.

Producer: Torquil Macleod.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 31 Mar 2014 00:15

Elaine Chase

Research Officer, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford


Find out more about Dr Elaine Chase



Poverty and Shame: Global Experiences 
Edited by Elaine Chase and Grace Bantebya-Kyomuhendo
Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

Sohail Choudhry

Lead Researcher, Pakistan for global 'Poverty and Shame' project at the University of Oxford 


Find out more about Sohail Choudhry



Chapter six: Pakistan: a journey of poverty-induced shame by Sohail Choudhry
In The Shame of it: Global Perspectives on Anti-Poverty Policies
Erika K. Gubrium (Author, Editor), Sony Pellissery (Editor), Ivar Lodemel (Editor)
Publisher: Policy Press
ISBN-10: 1447308700
ISBN-13: 978-1447308706

David Arnold

Professor emeritus of Asian and global history in the Department of History at the University of Warwick


Find out more about David Arnold


Everyday Technology: Machines and the Making of India's Modernity
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN-10: 0226922022
ISBN-13: 978-0226922027

Ethnography Award

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