The escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel is leaving people in Gaza in urgent need of humanitarian support. Please donate now.

Available documents

No available documents

Oxfam Policy & Practice provides free access to Gender & Development and Development in Practice journal articles.

Download from publisher


Many development agencies seek to work on behalf of the ‘poor’ and the ‘poorest of the poor’, often creating external definitions of poverty and of people living in poverty that are based on a complex list of things that the poor do not have. There are others who have spearheaded efforts to define poverty based on criteria derived from members of (largely) rural communities, many of whom would be considered poor. All such definitions ultimately result in some type of grouping of people into different categories of ‘poor people’. By creating a list of characteristics of poverty, agencies believe that they are better able to target ‘the poor’ as beneficiaries of interventions to eradicate poverty. This article is intended to challenge development organisations (governmental and non-governmental) to look beyond simple definitions of poverty that are based on static characteristics. It is intended to provoke readers to re-evaluate some of their ideas about definitions of poverty, and to critically examine their agency’s role in the business of poverty.

This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis.

Additional details






How to cite this resource

Citation styles vary so we recommend you check what is appropriate for your context.  You may choose to cite Oxfam resources as follows:

Author(s)/Editor(s). (Year of publication). Title and sub-title. Place of publication: name of publisher. DOI (where available). URL

Our FAQs page has some examples of this approach.

Related resources

Here are similar items you might be interested in.

Browse all resources