IDS Bulletin Vol. 29 Nos. 1

Behind the Rhetoric: The Institutional Basis of Social Exclusion and Poverty

Published on 1 January 1998

Summary This article argues that theoretical discussion of different policy assumptions between social exclusion and poverty as elaborated by Silver should always be strongly grounded in their policy context. The concept of social exclusion has arisen in the European discussion at a time when the performance of welfare systems has been strongly criticised for failing to prevent poverty and hindering economic development. A comparison of the policy contexts of French ‘social exclusion’ and British ‘poverty’ concepts using social assistance as a template shows that there are crosscutting similarities as well as paradigmatic differences between such theoretical approaches. One problem with the discussion of both poverty and social exclusion is that the concepts are couched in rhetoric at the political level. The author returns to the criticisms of welfare state performance and concludes that analysis which takes into account the social and institutional context can be a tool to challenge rhetorical assumptions about welfare performance, both in the industrialised North and in the differences and comparative advantages of less industrialised countries with different welfare institutions.

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Evans, M. (1998) Behind the Rhetoric: The Institutional Basis of Social Exclusion and Poverty. IDS Bulletin 29(1): 42-49

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published by
Institute of Development Studies
Evans, Martin


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