Definitions for RICSA's Poverty Project
Accumulation | Agency | Analytical | Appropriation | Authoritarianism | Centralization of capital | Colonialism | Commodity production | Comprehensive primary health care | Concentration of capital | Crude birth rate | Economic activity | Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) | Economic development | Elite | Employment | Empowerment | Endowment | Entitlement | European Union (EU) | Exchange | Fertility | Fertility rate | Forced labour | General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) | Globalization | Gross national product (GNP) | Gross domestic product (GDP) | G7 | Hegemonic ideology | Human-needs centered development | Imperialism | Industrialization | Infant mortality rate | Informal sector | International Monetary Fund (IMF) | International Association of Investors in the Social Economy (INAISE) | Labour productivity | Liberal democratic | Life expectancy | Monopoly capitalism | Mortality rates | Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) | North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) | Normative | Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) | Petty commodity production | Politics | Population growth rate | Poverty | Production | Proletarianization | Replacement level | Reproduction | Semiproletarianization | Social class | Social division of labour | States | Statism | Structure | Subordination of women | Subsistence production | Surplus | Sustainable development | Technical division of labour | Total fertility rate (TFR) | Underemployment | Unemployment | Unemployment ratio | United Nations Organisation (UNO) | World Trade Organisation| Work
Agency: A factor explaining development referring to particular sources of action.
Analytical: Such a view or theory attempts to explain or analyse some aspect of society, perhaps putting forward a conceptual framework for understanding.
Authoritarianism: Nonexistent or very limited participation in government decisionmaking by those being governed.
Centralization of capital: The tendency for certain geographical centres to become dominant, combining the administrative centres of finance and industrial capital with political centres.
Colonialism: The direct political control of a people by a foreign state; control of a nonEuropean people by a European state or the USA.
Commodity production: Production for sale through the market and consumption by other than the producer. Full (capitalist) commodity production is completely integrated into the market. Producers buy all inputs, including waged labour, and sell all the output. Small (petty) commodity production is only partly integrated into the market and is based on family not waged labour.
Comprehensive primary health care: A broadly based strategy which explicitly links the prevalence of infectious diseases with poverty. It maintains the approach to primary health care, established at the Alma Ata conference in 1978, which aims at providing promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services. It is often contrasted with selective primary health care, an approach promoted by unicef since 1983, which emphasizes growth monitoring of children, the use of oral rehydration salts for diarrhoea, the encouragement of breastfeeding for infants, and immunization. In practice, selective primary health care schemes concentrate particularly on the distribution of oral rehydration salts and on vaccinating as many children as possible. They are therefore more like biomedical interventions than public health programmes.
Concentration of capital: The combination of small capitals into larger corporations (by takeover, merger or joint venture).
Crude birth rate: The number of births per 1000 population in a given year. Not to be confused with growth rate.
Economic activity: The economically active population includes all persons of either sex who furnish the supply of labour for the production of economic goods and services. The production of economic goods and services should include all production and processing of primary products whether for market, for barter or for own consumption, the production of all other goods for the market and, in the case of households which produce such goods and services for the market, the corresponding production for own consumption.
Economic development: Raising the productive capacities of societies, in terms of their technologies (more efficient tools and machines), technical cultures (knowledge of nature, research and capacity to develop improved technologies), and the physical, technical and organizational capacities and skills of those engaged in production. This can also be expressed in terms of raising the productivity of labour: using the labour available to society in more productive and efficient ways to produce a greater quantity and a more diverse range of goods and services.
Elite: A small group within the state or other organization which has disproportionate power over important decisions.
Employment: Either (1) paid employment for others, or (2) self-employment performing some work for profit or family gain. There are three major attributes of employment (income, production, and recognition).
Empowerment: Having or being given power or control. It is generally used to describe the desirable state of affairs in which individuals have choice and control in everyday aspects of their lives: their labour, reproduction, access to resources, etc. However, there is an immediate contradiction within the idea of individual empowerment, since people tend to be restricted in their lives or to have power over others as a result of social relations and structures outside their own control. Paulo Freire, the Brazilian radical educator who promoted the term, argues that empowerment should be thought of in social class terms: The question of social class empowerment makes empowerment much more than an individual or psychological event. It points to a political process by the dominated classes who seek their own freedom from domination, a long historical process.
Endowment: The owned assets and personal capacities which an individual or household can use to establish entitlement and food.
Entitlement: The relationships, established by trade, direct production or sale of labour power, through which an individual or household gains access to food. Direct entitlement is access to food gained through own production and consumption. Exchange entitlement is that command over food which is achieved by selling labour power in order to buy food. Trade entitlement is the sale of produce to buy food.
Exchange: A process that is required (as a specialization) for production to go beyond the simplest levels. Most familiarly, exchange is the process of buying and selling goods. It also includes the paying of wages and rents or interests. More generally, exchange is the process and the social circuits through which goods are distributed among the population.
Fertility: The actual reproduction performance of an individual, a couple, a group, or a population.
Fertility rate: The number of live births per 1000 women aged 15-44 years in a given year.
Forced labour: The mobilization and organization of workers based on extraeconomic coercion. Workers do not enter the arrangement by their own volition or by selling their labour power in the market. Examples of forced labour are slavery, tribute labour (labour services or payments in kind) and indentured labour. In some circumstances, forced labourers may well own or have access to their own means of production, from whose produce they may make forced payments in kind as well as, or instead of, providing labour service,
Globalization: The forging of a multiplicity of linkages and interconnections between the states and societies which make up the modern world system. The processes by which events, decisions, and activities in one part of the world can come to have significant consequences for individuals and communities in quite distant parts of the globe.
Gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP): The World Bank defines GNP as the total domestic and foreign output claimed by residents of a country in one year. What they claim is also their income; thus GNP is a measure of national income and GNP per capita is a measure of the average income of each member of the population, including what they may earn or receive from abroad. GDP, on the other hand, is simply an output measure: the total final output of goods and services produced by an economy. Thus GDP measures the size of the economy while GNP is the total income available for private and public spending. The two are of course closely related. The GNP of Nigeria, for example, is the output produced in Nigeria (its GDP), less whatever is claimed by foreigners (repatriated profits, migrant workers earnings, etc.), plus what Nigerians earn outside the country (remittances from abroad, returns on investments abroad).
Hegemonic ideology: The dominant or ruling set of ideas in a society which is reinforced regularly by the state as part of a process of legitimation supporting the continuation of the existing political regime.
Human-needs centered development: A term for development where the level of satisfaction of various dimensions of human needs is considered to have improved. Extending Seers conditions for development to a list of eight gives: (1) low levels of material poverty; (2) low level of unemployment; (3) relative equality; (4) democratization of political life; (5) true national independence; (6) good literacy and educational levels; (7) relatively equal status for women and participation by women; (8) sustainable ability to meet future needs.
Imperialism: Whereas colonialism means direct rule of a people by a foraign state, imperialism refers to a general system of domination by a state (or states) of other states, regions or the whole world. Thus political subjugation through colonialism is only one form this domination might take; imperialism also encompasses different kinds of direct control. Also, whereas colonialism may be used as a purely descriptive term, imperialism is almost always used in an ideological way, usually as part of a particular theoretical view of the causes, nature and effects of such domination, such a Lenins view of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism.
Industrialization: The process by which production in the industrial sector becomes increasingly important compared with agricultural production; more fundamentally, a general change towards the use of advanced technology and a complex division of labour in production with associated changes in social structure and organization.
Infant mortality rate: The number of deaths to infants under one year of age in a given year per 1000 live births in that year.
Informal sector: A common description, encompassing petty trading, self-employment, casual and irregular wage work, employment in personal services or in small-scale enterprises in manufacturing and services. Those unable to find (or retain) regular wage employment (the marginals) swell the ranks of the informal sector, characterized by its relative ease of entry with low capital investment requirements, and by being relatively labour intensive and unregulated. By contrast, work in the formal or modern sector refers to larger scale enterprises and employers with relatively stable employment, higher wages and more regulation of work conditions, and where workers can organize themselves more easily.
Labour productivity: The quantity of goods and services that someone can produce with a given expenditure of effort, usually measured or averaged out in terms of time spent working or labour time. It is the ratio of the amount produced to the amount of labour put in it, measured as product per person-hour or person-year.
Liberal democratic: Such regimes are distinguished from others by (a) competition (through elections and multiple parties) for political offices, at regular intervals, excluding the use of force; (b) participation of citizens in politics through various forms of collective action at different levels; (c) accountability of rulers to the ruled through modes of representation and the rule of lwa; and (d) civil and political liberties sufficient to ensure the integrity of participation, competition and accountability.
Life expectancy: See mortality rates
Monopoly capitalism: A stage in the development of capitalism dominated by giant corporations, each of which controls a relatively high proportion of the local or world markets for its products. This means that instead of simple price competition between small independent producers, there is greater importance for finance and investment. Competition between large corporations each with monopoly control in different areas takes the form of competition for finance, for sources of raw materials and for profitable investment opportunities.
Mortality rates and life expectancy: The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths in the first year of life per 1000 live births. The under-five mortality rate is the number of children who die before the age of five for every 1000 live births. Life expectancy is the average length of life or the expectation of life at birth. Infant and under-five mortality rates are strongly correlated with adult mortality. If infant or under-five mortality is high, adult mortality is likely to be high and life expectancy low. They can, therefore, be useful indicators of susceptibility to diseases. Also, health care policies in Third World countries are often directed at children and changes in infant or under-five mortality rates are of assessing these policies.
Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI): The MAI is an international treaty under secret negotiations by the 29 member countries of the Organization for Economic Coopertaion and Development. More clearly put, the MAI is a charter of rights to transnational corporations, whose main goal is to restrict the ability of governments to regulate them, promote greater legal security and protection for investments and establish dispute settlement mechanism which gives them rights to challenge national laws and seek payment to damages.
Normative: Such a view or theory brings in value judgements and suggests how things should be rather than just explaining how they are and why.
Petty commodity production: The production of commodities for sale based on economic necessity and using own means of production and household labour. Petty commodity production is therefore small scale but is based on a high level of integration in product markets, frequently leading to integration in credit and input markets. The use of family or household labour is an important characteristic, although temporary or seasonal wage labour may also be employed.
Politics: Processes of steering and choosing through time at different levels and localities. The term expresses the idea of material interests and values; it fundamentally concerns power relations within and between political actors and institutions, including forms of popular struggle; and it involves state power and the maintenance of order in society.
Population growth rate: The rate at which a population is increasing (or decreasing) in a given year due to natural increase and net migration, expressed as a percentage of the base population.
Poverty: Alternative understandings include: Poverty line: A simple definition where poverty is identified as an income below a minimal standard. The difficulties of obtaining cross-society comparability and of dealing with direct entitlements make this definition of limited use. Consumption-based poverty line: The expenditure necessary to buy a minimum standard of nutrition and other basic necessities and a further amount that varies for country to country, reflecting the cost of participation in the life of society. Poverty as failure of capabilities: Rather than focusing on a command over goods, as entitlement ideas do, this definition highlights basic human capabilities (to take part in society, to obtain health care, to achieve an adequate standard of living) and the failure to achieve them.
Production: A process in which human energy is expended to transform natural products into goods of consumption. It involves interaction between people and nature. The simplest production process has three elements: (1) the work done by people; (2) the subject of that work, the raw materials of nature and of previous production; and (3) the tools and skills used in the work. Thus, agriculture, or production on the land, requires (a) people to provide labour power; (b) at a minimum, adequately fertile land, rainfall and seeds of the crop to be grown; and (c) a hoe or a plough for tilling the soil and the skills and practices of agriculture.
Proletarianization: The process (and result) of generalized employment of wage labour in commodity production. Proletarian labour is one of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in which workers are separated from their means of production, and sell their labour in the market to capitalists (owners of capital). The notion of generalized commodity production (often used to describe capitalism) therefore suggests not only the generalized production of goods for sale but the employment of commoditized labour (i.e. wage labour) to do so. Proletarianization is based on economic compulsion.
Replacement level: The level of fertility at which a group of women on average are having only enough daughters to replace themselves in the population.
Reproduction: All the processes by which the inputs of production are themselves produced. Social reproduction replaces the inert elements of the process. The production of the producer involves biological reproduction (childbearing), generational reproduction (childrearing) and daily reproduction or maintenance (provision of human needs like food, shelter, etc.).
Semiproletarianization: A process where people who have inadequate access to means of production, or have been dispossessed from them, have to provide labour for others. One mechanism of semiproletization is debt bondage in which producers provide labour because they have fallen in debt with their creditors over land rents, cash loans or other resources. Another type of semiproletization occurs through periodic labour migration. Historically, semiproletization has involved a dimension of extraeconomic coercion as well as economic compulsion. Current forms of semiproletization may mirror characteristics of colonial forms but are generally regarded as being based on economic compulsion. Additionally, contemporary semiproletization often combines production using own means of production with wage labour for local farms and industrial enterprises.
Social class: The distinction between different social groups according to the ways in which they make their living, particularly between those who own means of production (land, factories, machines) and those who do not (who sell their labour power to cultivate the land or work in the factories). We will be concerned particularly to distinguish between peasants (those who produce on the land, using family labour, partly for their own consumption and partly for sale), wage labourers (those who sell their labour power to make a living as agricultural and industrial workers), pastoralists (who tend livestock, often nomadically, to produce meat and milk for consumption and exchange), and others.
Social division of labour: The degree of specialization between different units of production, and how they are related through the exchange of their products.
States: (1) Conduct peaceful and warlike relations with other states; (2) claim a monopoly over the use of force within their boundaries and generally seek to order society through power relations; (3) can provide identity and cohesion through processes of legitimation; (4) act as agents within society and structure the actions of other agents; (5) sustain myriad relationships with other spheres of activity and groups and classesof which the relationship with the economy is most important; (6) are not unified organizations but rather ensembles of institutions and processes which are extremely various, conflictual and complex.
Statism: Comprehensive (although not total) command over the economy by the state.
Structure: A factor explaining development referring to relatively slowchanging sets of relationships between classes, economic activities and other general elements in society.
Subordination of women: A phrase used to describe the generalized situation whereby men as a group have more social and economic power than women, including power over women. As a result, women come off worse in most measurable indices of the outcome of social and economic processes. In short, the way the two genders relate to each other is that the male gender is dominant and the female gender is subordinate.
Subsistence production: Production for the producers own (or household) use.
Surplus, appropriation, accumulation: That portion of what is produced at any given time that is not required for immediate consumption, including reproduction, is called the surplus product or simply the surplus. It may be preserved as a store of produce or implements, or converted through market relations into a sum of cash. There are three main possible uses for the surplus product. It can be kept as a reserve against future needs. It can be taken by dominant social groups or classes and used for luxury or conspicuous consumption and for maintaining their power (e.g. building palaces or temples, keeping armies). Or it can be used as a means of investment in expanding production and/or increasing its efficiency by improving productivity. In the second case the surplus is said to be appropriated by the dominant groups or classes concerned. The surplus may also be appropriated by dominant groups in the last case; the difference is that they then use it for what is termed productive accumulation, or simply accumulation.
Sustainable development: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Technical division of labour: The degree of specialization and combination of activities within any single unit of production or production process.
Total fertility rate (TFR): The average number of children that would be born alive to a woman (or group of women) during her lifetime if she were to pass through her childbearing years conforming to the age-specific fertility rates of a given year. In the US today a TFR of 2.12 is considered to be replacement level. (If there were no deaths before childbearing age it would be 2.0)
Underemployment: Work that does not permit full use of someones highest existing skills or capacities. This could mean, for example: working for shorter periods, less intensively than able or willing to work; working at a lower level of productivity than capable of doing; earning less than able or willing; or working in a production unit with abnormally low productivity.
Unemployment: A concept generally restricted to the wage economy. It means being without work, i.e. not in paid employment, nor in self-employment (performing some work for profit or family gain) but currently available for employment and seeking it. This is the official meaning used in statistics.
Unemployment ratio: The number of unemployed people expressed as a proportion (usually as a percentage) of the total employed and unemployed population.
Work: Expenditure of energy for a purpose. Thus work includes both paid work (employment) and unpaid work, so-called formal as well as informal work, and domestic work, work done in kind, even voluntary work.