Chasing Riches

Leiden Repository

Chasing Riches

Type: Master thesis
Title: Chasing Riches
Author: Lit, Joep van
Issue Date: 2018-02-28
Keywords: poverty, development, aid, agency
Abstract: Even though billions are spent on poverty alleviation, and many thousands of pages of policy have been written, there is no clear idea on the effect of poverty reduction strategies. This paper argues that not only development aid has not been durably effective, moreover, this lack of effectiveness is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what is poverty. This paper argues that the mismatch between poverty-definitions of donor and recipient can be solved through a new conceptualization of poverty, in which its intersocial dimension is central. Two new concepts are introduced: aspiration (the desire to belong to a group which possesses certain commodities – ranging from material goods to civil or human rights, and more) and acceptation (the condition that the group needs to accept an aspirer). Hence, poverty is defined in terms of agency, individuality and desire. The last step made in the argument is to apply the new conceptualization – the Aspiration Approach – to three recurring themes in Dutch development aid to Sub-Saharan African countries. It is shown here how a different definition of poverty can lead to a better understanding of failing development aid. The Aspiration Approach to Poverty defines poverty as the state in which one can be where one has aspirations that cannot be fulfilled. This unfulfilment can obviously have many reasons, but the reason that stands out in the Aspiration Approach is that others – the Opulent Society – do not accept the validity or worthiness of the aspirations.
Supervisor: Goede, Meike de
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: African Studies (Master)
Specialisation: BA Afrikaanse Talen en Culturen
ECTS Credits: 10

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