What does it mean t be poor? Investigating the qualitative-quantitative divide in Mozambique
This study reflects on the relationship between economic (quantitative) and anthropological (qualitative) approaches to the analysis of poverty in developing countries. Drawing on detailed evidence from Mozambique, we argue that different research approaches do not merely attempt to see poverty from different angles; rather, they often see differently. Different views reflect alternative philosophical positions along three axes - the ontological character of poverty; its generative mechanisms; and epistemological priorities. The quantitative analysis provides an indispensable numerical snapshot of trends in consumption and its broad correlates over time (e.g., via poverty profiles). In contrast, anthropological work focusses on lived experiences of poverty, which is rooted in a view of poverty as a process of social marginalization. While the policy implications of an economic approach focus on overall economic development and enhancing inputs at the household level, a relational view of poverty suggests the need to address counter-productive relations of power and to carefully target interventions at the poorest.
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