Thursday, January 27, 2011

Scarcity and Poverty

 @IDS_UK and @owenbarder offer two related but logically distinct interpretations of a new book on the Limits to Scarcity.

  • How faulty economic models keep the poor poor.
  • Does rhetoric about scarcity help to keep the poor poor?

From a POSIWID perspective, these two interpretations each imply a hidden purpose: for the economic models and rhetoric respectively. But the POSIWID heuristic is a fairly blunt analytic instrument that probably doesn't help us choose whether to focus on the models or the rhetoric.

Here's an extract from the blurb

The 'scare' of scarcity has led to scarcity emerging as a political strategy for powerful groups. Aggregate numbers and physical quantities are trusted, while local knowledges and experiences of scarcity that identify problems more accurately and specifically are ignored. Science and technology are expected to provide 'solutions', but such expectations embody a multitude of unexamined assumptions about the nature of the 'problem', about the technologies and about the institutional arrangements put forward as a 'fix.' 

The Limits to Scarcity: Contesting the Politics of Allocation (2011). Edited By Lyla Mehta. ISBN 1 844075423

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