Rural Poverty: Marginalisation and Exclusion in Britain and the United States

Rural Poverty: Marginalisation and Exclusion in Britain and the United States

Rural Poverty: Marginalisation and Exclusion in Britain and the United States

Rural Poverty: Marginalisation and Exclusion in Britain and the United States


Moving beyond the highly visual forms of poverty characteristic of the city, Rural Poverty explores the nature of poverty in rural spaces in Britain and America. Setting out key features, it highlights the important processes that hide key components of rural poverty. The book seeks to challenge dominant assumptions about the spatialities of poverty and the nature of rural spaces in Britain and America.Drawing on a broad range of new research material, the book challenges dominant assumptions. It provides a comprehensive and critical review of the nature of poverty in rural spaces, giving particular attention to:- the scale, profile and causes of poverty in rural areas- the spatial unevenness and local geographies of rural poverty- the experiences of different forms of poverty in rural spaces- the shifting governance of rural welfare at central and local spatial scales.Demonstrating that poverty represents a significant but neglected feature of rural life in Britain and America, this insightful book highlights the processes through which rural poverty remains hidden from the dominant gazes of poverty researchers and policy-makers, the statistical significance and spatial unevenness of poverty in rural areas, the ways in which poverty is experienced in local rural spaces, and the complex governance of welfare in rural spaces. Case study material is drawn from a wide range of locations, including Wiltshire, Northumberland and Hampshire in the UK and New England in the US.


Poverty is a difficult question from both a methodological and a theoretical point of view. Furthermore, it is a very ambiguous political issue. Many difficulties derive from the irreducible distance between the abstract concept and the findings from research. the concept is based on the idea that, for various reasons and for variable periods of time, a part of the population lacks access to sufficient resources to enable it to survive at a historically or geographically determined minimum standard of life and that this leads to serious consequences in terms of behaviour and social relations.

(Mingione, 1996, 324)

Mingione's useful attempt to encapsulate the meanings of poverty in Western developed countries in such a small number of words hardly results in a simplistic definition being offered. in fact, what this quotation illustrates is that poverty is a highly complex term in the context of relatively affluent countries such as Britain and the United States. It includes the idea of absolute poverty based around the inability of individuals and groups to secure the basics of life, most notably food, water and shelter, but goes much further than this to include relative forms of poverty which are defined in terms of other forms of standard of living. in fact, there exists as much confusion as consensus concerning the definition of poverty in Britain and the United States. Meanings of poverty differ across academic, policy and lay discourses, and are very much context specific - in terms of particular spaces, temporal periods and different regimes of welfare. Indeed, while certain definitions of poverty rely on statistical data and scientific procedures of collection and measurement, poverty remains fundamentally a political concept that is bound up with a great deal of complexity, contradiction and contestation. Alcock (1997), in his excellent book, Understanding Poverty, summarises the complex nature of poverty in the following terms:

The first thing to understand about poverty is that it is not a simple phenomenon that we can learn to define by adopting the correct approach. It is a series of contested definitions and complex arguments

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