n South African Journal on Human Rights - Poverty and the ordinary law : introduction

Volume 29, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



During 2012 a research project on the relationship between law and poverty, titled Poverty and Justice, was launched in the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria. The starting point and broad background to the project is the assertion that poverty is an injustice and the implicit flipside of that claim, that justice is the absence of poverty. The basic contention of the project is that any view of poverty as a practical social problem in the first place, rather than a manifestation of injustice, results in an approach to poverty that is focused solely on technical and managerial solutions. This kind of approach to poverty is problematic as it obscures the political dimensions of poverty, that is, the fact that poverty is embedded in and arises from a particular ideology. If one defines poverty as inadequate access to basic living resources such as housing, food, water and health care the political dimensions of poverty are brought to the fore. What determines access to these basic resources is economic and political power. Any response to poverty must therefore engage with and take account of power.

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