Tackling poverty, shame and social exclusion: United Kingdom

Working with colleagues in different countries around the world, the Department of Social Policy and Intervention  at the University of Oxford in England have recently completed research that tackles poverty, shame and social exclusion.

This project examines that shame is universally experienced by those living in poverty. Shame is believed both to reduce a person's agency and increase social exclusion, processes which, in turn, are thought to curtail economic development.

Anti-poverty policies, therefore, may alleviate or conversely exacerbate these processes depending on how they engage with poverty-related shame. If shame in relation to poverty is indeed universal, applying in both the global North and South, this enhances scope for reciprocal policy learning and creates a possible basis for building popular support to tackle global poverty through promoting human dignity.

People and families who are poor or experiencing hard times often speak of the sense of shame they feel when officials and other people treat them without respect:

  • What does it mean to be poor or to suffer financial hardship?
  • How does it feel to be living in poverty or on a low income? 
  • How is the experience of poverty shaped by society?  
  • Is shame an inevitable consequence of financial hardship?  
  • How do policies affect what it is like to be poor?

A personal insight into the theme of poverty and shame, this film explores what constitutes a comfortable living in the UK and highlights divisive issues such as benefits and class discrimination.

For more information about this research in the UK, please click on the following link : http://povertyshamedignity.spi.ox.ac.uk/countries/united-kingdom.html

See video