Charity and Poverty in Advanced Welfare States

Published: 2021

This book conceptualises the role of charity to people who are poor in wealthy countries and outlines a set of practical and conceptual ideas for how it could be re-imagined.

Despite professionalised welfare states and strong economies, in many advanced industrialised nations, charity continues to play a major role in the lives of people who are poor. Extending what we know about how neoliberalism drives a decayed welfare state that outsources welfare provisioning to charities and community initiatives, this book asks how can we understand and conceptualise society’s willingness to engage in charitable acts toward the poor, and how can charity be reimagined to contribute to justice in an unjust society? Through interrogating multiple data sources, including government datasets, survey datasets, media analyses, and ethnographic data, this book shows that charity is not well-suited to addressing the material dimension of poverty. It argues the need for a revised model of charity with the capacity to contribute to social solidarity that bridges social divisions and is inclusive of the poor. Presenting a model for reimaging charity which enables reciprocity and active contributions from recipients and providers, this book shows how power imbalances flowing from the unidirectional provision of charity can be reduced, allowing opportunities for reciprocal care that foster both wellbeing and solidarity.

This book will be of interest to all scholars and students of social policy, public policy, social welfare, sociology and social work.


Andrew Clarke

Centre Member

Cameron Parsell

Centre Friend

Francisco Perales


Parsell, C., Clarke, A., & Perales, F. (2021). Charity and Poverty in Advanced Welfare States. Routledge.