UE Alleviating poverty and inequalities : theories, concepts and tools

Degrees incorporating this pedagocial element :


Poverty is the core problem of developing countries and at the heart of development objectives and programmes. Since the recent global financial crisis, poverty and social inequalities also turned out to be a rising issue within Western countries. The lecture part of this course provides an overview on the global evolution of poverty and inequalities as well as conceptual frameworks for thinking about the multiple dimensions of poverty and their causes. The following two seminars are designed to familiarise the students with innovative project strategies and tools for poverty alleviation and social cohesion. A special issue will be the rising relevance in the Global North of concepts and strategies which have been designed for the Global South.


Background in social sciences

Targeted skills

Objectives and learning outcomes:
At the end of ths course, students should
- be aware of the global dimension of poverty and inequalities,
- master the different definitions and concepts of poverty, in order to understand the link between the way how actors of development conceive poverty and the solutions they propose,
- be able to critically address varying discourses in poverty and examine competing explanations for poverty reduction,
- to critically assess varying policies and programmes to combat poverty and inequalities. They also should be aware of the globalisation of the problem of poverty and the rising circulation of concepts, strategies and tools between the Global South and the Global North.


Chant, S./Mcllwaine, C. (2009) Geographies of Development in the 21st Century, Edward Elgar. Chap 7: Poverty, vulnerability and exclusion, pp. 186-204.
Clapp/Wilkinson (eds.) (2010) Global Governance, Poverty and Inequalities. Routledge. Chapter: “A snapshot of global poverty and inequalities today”.
Dorey, P. (2010). A Poverty of Imagination: Blaming the Poor for I+B45nequality. The Political Quarterly, 81(3), 333-343.
Misturelli, F./Heffernan, C. (2010) "The concept of poverty: a synchronic perspective". Progress in Development Studies 10(1), pp. 35-58.
Hulme, D. (2010) Global Poverty. How global governance is failing the poor. London, Routledge. pp. 17-81.
International Poverty Center (2006) What is Poverty? Concepts and Measures. Poverty in Focus. UNDP, Washington D.C.
UNDP (2013) Human Development Report 2013. The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Palgrave Macmillan, N.Y.
UNDP (2010) Human Development Report 2010. The Real Wealth of Nations. Pathways to Human Development. Palgrave Macmillan, N.Y.
Spicker, P. et al. (2007) Poverty. An International Glossary. (2nd edition), London, N.Y., Zed Books.
Sumner, Andy (2012) "Where Do The World’s Poor Live? A New Update", IDS WORKING PAPER, Volume 2012 No 393.

Qualitative concepts
Chambers, R. (1995) "Poverty and livelihoods: whose reality counts?" Environment and Urbanization 7: 173, pp. 173-204.
Munck, R. (2005) Globalisation and Social Exclusion. A Transformationalist Perspective. Kumarian Press.
Nussbaum, M. (2001) “Women and Equality, the Capability Approach”, in Fetherolf Loutfi, M., Women, Gender and Work, P. International Labour Office, Geneva, p.45-84.
Sen, A. (2009) The Idea of Justice. Harvard University Press.
Sen, A. (2000) Social exclusion: concept, application and scrutiny. Social Development Papers No. 1. Asian Development Bank. Office of Environment and Social Development.
Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford. University Press.

Why the poor are poor?
Collier, P. (2007) The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What can be Done. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Easterly, W. (2006) The White Man's Burden. Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done so Much ill and so Little Good. Penguin Books.
Lakshman, Y (1996) "What Causes Poverty? a Postmodern View, Annals of the association of American Geographers, 86, pp. 274-92. Corbridge, S. (2008) (ed.) Development. Critical essays in Human Geography. Ashgate, London.
Moyo, D. (2009) Dead aid: why aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa. London/New York: Allen Lane.
Sachs, J. (2005) The End of Poverty. Economic Possibilities for Our Time. Peguin Books.
Smith, N. (1997) "The Satanic Geographies of globalisation: Uneven Development in the 1990s", Public culture, 10, pp. 169-89. in Corbridge, S. (2008) (ed.) Development. Critical essays in Human Geography. Ashgate, London.
Stieglitz, J. (2002) Globalisation and it's Discontents. W.W. Norton Company. N.Y./London

Additional readings
Baulch, B. (2011) Why Poverty Persists. Poverty Dynamics in Asia and Africa. Chronic Poverty Research Center. Edward Elgar.
Ferreira, F. H.G./ Ravallion, M. (2008) Global Poverty and Inequality: A Review of the Evidence. World Bank Policy Research Paper 4623. Washington D.C.
Smith, A./Stenning, A./Willis, K. (2008)  Social Justice and Neoliberalism. Zed Books.