Poverty, Vulnerability and the Global Economy (821L6)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

This module explores how poverty, vulnerability and marginality are created and reproduced in the global economy. Taking an anthropological perspective, we explore social, economic and political factors and relations that contribute to the ‘adverse incorporation’ (Phillips 2011) of people within global economic processes. Focusing on diverse local case studies, a central premise of the module is that rather than generalise about ‘poverty’, ‘the poor,’ and ‘development’, we need to understand the specific social, economic, and political processes that contribute to the production of poverty in particular contexts. We focus on the relationship between poverty and capitalism via several themes: how gender and the household shape relations of poverty; how structural systems such as class and race are central to how poverty is constituted and becomes lived as embodied experience; and how the dynamics of migration, urban life, and working for global markets contribute to or mitigate conditions of precariousness.

We explore the political economy of debt, and how relations of indebtedness create dependencies and vulnerabilities across the globe. The module considers ‘the poor’ not merely as victims but also as agents with an ability to speak, act, resist, and create. Finally, we critically assess some different poverty-alleviation interventions, and consider the transformative potential of contemporary social protection policies. Each of the above issues will be explored with reference to in-depth case studies from around the world.


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2021/22. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.