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Poverty and ShameGlobal Experiences$
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Elaine Chase and Grace Bantebya-Kyomuhendo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686728

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686728.001.0001

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‘I Am Not Alone’

‘I Am Not Alone’

Experiences of Poverty-Induced Shame in a Moral Economy

Chapter:
(p.138) 11 ‘I Am Not Alone’
Source:
Poverty and Shame
Author(s):

Sony Pellissery

Leemamol Mathew

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686728.003.0011

In order to understand how poverty and shame interact in India, this chapter draws on in-depths interviews with adults and children living in poverty in Gujarat and Kerala. It shows how people’s needs were immediate and how many struggled every day just to survive. It illustrates how in India, poverty is a shared rather than an individual phenomenon and is experienced within complex relationships of reciprocity. Family-created expectations and poverty left deep scars when such expectations could not be met. At the same time, the ability to stand together in times of hardship was said to strengthen family bonds. Hence the shame of poverty becomes spread across different members of the family and community and has a horizontal impact. Yet, in a society structured around hierarchies of class and caste, shaming becomes an important mechanism for social control and maintenance of the status quo.

Keywords:   India, poverty, shame, moral economy, class, caste, collective, individual

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