A Poverty Resource Hub of Focus on the Global South Philippines

Poverty as Disempowerment

Poverty as Disempowerment

Dec 14, 2011

Poverty as Disempowerment

To be poor is to be powerless to shape one’s life as one wills in the context of a wider community. Formal political structures may visibly be in place, yet poverty always entails a lack of democratic control over these spaces and structures.

This may not only be the result of deficient political mechanisms, for oftentimes more structural dynamics that exclude the poor from sociopolitical life may be involved. The poor may be criminalized or labelled as too uneducated to be able to competently participate in political decision-making. They may likewise experience protracted resistance or even plain disregard by officials  in having their interests sufficiently accounted for in the policy formation process. On a political level, their inability to represent themselves persists; instead, they are formally represented by others, even though the link to their own demands and articulations are exceedingly tenuous.

Although political participation on the whole may or may not be deficient, equally at issue is political participation on what terms. It may just happen that the poor are extensively involved in the political affairs of their locality— yet so long as this does not translate into any stake to shape one’s life in the direction that one desires amidst the concerns of the wider community, changes towards inclusivity and democratic control remain called for.

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