The deterioration in the living standards of the worst-off members of all kinds of societies has coincided with the resurgence of free-market utopianism as a political creed. Yet there is as yet no convincing theory to link these two phenomena. Bill Jordan seeks to fill this gap in social scientific theory by explaining poverty and social exclusion in terms of collective action in exclusive groups.
The book draws on public choice theory for its analysis of collective action of all kinds, from households and clubs to communities and politics, and shows how the strategies of individuals and groups affect collective outcomes. Although the methods are primarily derived from this economic perspective, historical and comparative dimensions are extensively reviewed, with special reference to the feminization of poverty and the racialization of social exclusion.
Bill Jordan draws on his wide knowledge of comparative social policy to criticize currently fashionable theories of community and social citizenship. He argues that economic globalization and the actions of comfortable majorities in all the First World countries have increased the vulnerability of the poor, who in turn have taken strategic resistance action that drives up social costs. His theory includes an analysis of the threat to democracy posed by growing antagonisms between exclusive groups.
A Theory of Poverty and Social Exclusion is a pathbreaking book which will be of marked interest to academics and students in sociology, social policy, politics and economics.