David Brady, Agnes Blome, and Hanna Kleider
This article explores the influence of politics and institutions on poverty and inequality. It first considers the general contention that poverty is shaped by the combination of power resources and institutions. On one hand, scholars in the power resources tradition have emphasized the role of class-based collective political actors for mobilizing “power resources” in the state and economy. On the other hand, institutionalists have highlighted the role of formal rules and regulations. The article goes on to discuss the theoretical arguments of power resources theory and the evidence for key power resources (that is, collective political actors like labor unions and parties). It also reviews institutional explanations, focusing on the key concepts and theories and as well as the evidence linking the most salient institutions to poverty. Finally, it examines how state policy influences poverty and presents several challenges for future research.
Frances Fox Piven and Lorraine C. Minnite
This article examines how political action by poor people can influence public policy. It begins with a critique of theories about poverty policy development for the poor as well as the political agency of the poor before discussing the dissensus politics arguments of Piven and Cloward. It then considers how globalization and the neoliberal assault on the welfare state are producing limited conditions of convergence between rich and poor countries with respect to policy, including countries in the West and in Latin America. It also offers suggestions aimed at addressing the neglect of poor people’s politics by focusing specifically on the American case, while also suggesting the relevance of that case to other societies. It asserts that the politics of the poor that stem from their interdependent power and their disruptive actions, as well as the policy consequences, can look different depending on the changing institutional and political context.