Poverty, Exclusion and Access
Overview of theme
Research within the Poverty, Exclusion and Access theme at Reading addresses one of the most pressing social challenges of our time: to understand patterns of poverty and exclusion in ways that can lead to more effective action to tackle them. Initially we will focus on four sub-themes, each building on established strengths to create new interdisciplinary alliances across the university.
(i) Social capital and access to resources - Under this sub-theme we will investigate how social and economic exclusion can be overcome through the use of both micro social capital (social networks) and macro or institutional social capital (government services and infrastructure), both of which are essential determinants of market access for individuals. This work will specifically build links between the different contexts (developing and developed countries; urban and rural settings; individual, household and community levels) and disciplinary perspectives in which Reading researchers have approached these issues.
(ii) Knowledge, information and exclusion - This sub-theme explores ways in which culture and institutions can lead to differential access to knowledge and information. In different contexts, research at Reading has shown that material poverty is often associated with exclusion from sources of information and communication infrastructure. Institutional design can have a positive impact on access in both formal and informal settings. By bringing together insights from different settings and disciplines, we expect to build a new synthesis of theory and methodology.
(iii) Urban poverty and social exclusion - Although overall levels of poverty are frequently higher in rural than in urban areas, the most severe pockets of poverty are often to be found in major urban areas, both in the Global South and the Global North. And this is in a context where levels of global inequality have doubled over the past 30 years. Current work under this sub-theme includes research on the access of poor urban households to water and the social bases of household water strategies in the urban areas of Jordan; a study of the contribution of small-scale enterprises to household livelihoods in the urban Caribbean; and research on the spatial incidence of segregation and deprivation in relation to housing in Europe.
(iv) Natural resources and poverty - Much of the poverty in rural areas, in Europe and in developing countries, is found in the farming sector. Yet many countries, particularly those in Africa, look to agriculture to provide the economic growth that will help them move towards the Millennium Development Goals. The main focus of this sub-theme will be to test competing theories and assumptions about the links between livelihoods based primarily on the use of renewable natural resources and levels of poverty. During 2006-2007, we will be holding a series of lunchtime seminars which will take current research related to the sub-themes as their starting point. We will also be preparing a working paper that synthesises substantive research outputs from Reading colleagues on poverty, exclusion and access. We are happy also to arrange seminars on specific topics of interest to colleagues. Our overall aim is to stimulate exchange of information and ideas and to facilitate the preparation of bids for research grants and contracts.
For more information, and to express specific interest in the theme, please contact one of the theme leaders as shown above.