The findings of a participatory research project into poverty released in May have provided insights that could lead to a reform of policy (go.nature.com/2xpbek9).
The project was organized by ATD Fourth World and the University of Oxford, UK. It involved people in poverty, practitioners and academics from Bangladesh, Bolivia, France, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and the United States. It identified nine dimensions of poverty in all the study countries. Poor people were already known to have low, insecure incomes and to experience material and social deprivation. The project highlighted how they also feel disempowered, suffer physically and mentally, and are caught up in struggle and resistance. These experiences seem to be shaped by wider society in the form of social and institutional maltreatment, and by a failure to recognize personal worth.
The findings need to be compared with those obtained using established methods for measuring poverty. And the method itself still needs to overcome ethical, epistemological and practical challenges. For example, giving academics, practitioners and people living in poverty equal roles in framing the research and collecting and interpreting the data is not always perceived as credible or feasible.
Academic interest is mounting, as evidenced by the Merging Knowledge initiative developed by ATD Fourth World and the French basic-research agency CNRS and National Conservatory of Arts and Trades (see also Nature 562, 7; 2018).
Nature 571, 174 (2019)