- The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Poverty
- List of Contributors
- Poverty Measurement
- Structural Violence, Poverty, and Social Suffering
- Capability Deprivation
- Ideologies and Beliefs about Poverty
- How Politics and Institutions Shape Poverty and Inequality
- Linking Poverty and Children’s Development: Concepts, Models, and Debates
- Poverty Knowledge and the History of Poverty Research
- The Discourse of Deservingness: Morality and the Dilemmas of Poverty Relief in Debate and Practice
- Gender and Poverty
- Life, Death, and Resurrections: The Culture of Poverty Perspective
- The Historical Origins of Poverty in Developing Countries
- The Dynamics of Poverty
- People and Places Left Behind: Rural Poverty in the New Century
- Poor Neighborhoods in the Metropolis
- Segregation and the Perpetuation of Disadvantage
- Urban Poverty, Race, and Space
- Single and Cohabiting Parents and Poverty
- Job-Finding among the Poor: Do Social Ties Matter?
- Employment and the Working Poor
- Great Escapes and Great Divergences: Growth, Poverty, and Income Inequality on a Global Scale
- Intergenerational Mobility
- Economic Performance, Poverty, and Inequality in Rich Countries
- Material Deprivation and Consumption
- Hunger and Food Insecurity
- Poverty and Crime
- Poverty and Informal Economies
- Social Class, Poverty, and the Unequal Burden of Illness and Death
- Aid and Global Poverty
- The Welfare States and Poverty
- Social Policy, Transfers, Programs, and Assistance
- Poor People’s Politics
- Why and When Do Peasants Rebel?: Origins and Consequences of Rural Collective Action
- Unions and Poverty
- Housing Programs
- Microfinance and Financial Inclusion
- Conclusion: Toward a New Paradigm for Understanding Poverty
Abstract and Keywords
This article examines the trope of deservingness, one of the most enduring narratives used by government officials, the media, and the larger public to classify poor people and to determine whether they are worthy of assistance. It first considers the concept of deservingness and how it fits into popular explanations of poverty and the work of distributing public resources. It then describes the use of the concept of deservingness throughout the history of poor relief in the United States, with particular emphasis on how race, gender, and citizenship have been deployed to shape deservingness narratives in two important areas of social provision: cash assistance and health care. Finally, it reviews recent trends in the deployment of the deservingness/undeservingness discourse, highlighting areas that require more analysis.
Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Associate Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, Northwestern University.
Elyse Kovalsky, Ph.D. Student in Sociology, Northwestern University.
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