From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States Can Change the World

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Overview

The twenty-first century will be defined by the fight against the scourges of poverty, inequality, and the threat of environmental collapse–as the fight against slavery or for universal suffrage defined earlier eras.

From Poverty to Power argues that to break the cycle of poverty and inequality and to give poor people power over their own destinies a radical redistribution of power, opportunities, and assets is required. The two driving forces ...

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Overview

The twenty-first century will be defined by the fight against the scourges of poverty, inequality, and the threat of environmental collapse–as the fight against slavery or for universal suffrage defined earlier eras.

From Poverty to Power argues that to break the cycle of poverty and inequality and to give poor people power over their own destinies a radical redistribution of power, opportunities, and assets is required. The two driving forces behind such a transformation are active citizens and effective states.

Why active citizenship? Because people living in poverty must have a voice in deciding their own destiny, fighting for rights and justice in their own society, and holding states and the private sector to account.

Why effective states? Because history shows that no country has prospered without a state structure than can actively manage the development process.

There is now an added urgency beyond the moral case for tackling poverty and inequality, we need to build a secure, fair, and sustainable world before climate change makes it impossible. This book argues that there is still time, provided leaders, organizations, and individuals act. Starting today…

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Green (of Oxfam Great Britain) argues that approaches towards reducing inequality and poverty require the combined efforts of "active citizens" and "effective states." He explores a range of issues that arise out this formulation, including characteristics of the active citizen, the role of markets in tackling poverty and inequality, issues of vulnerability and the search for human security, the impact of climate change on poor people, changes to global governance, and the responsibilities of citizens and states in rich countries. Most of his perspective and areas of focus are drawn from his experience with Oxfam."

"This volume provides a wide-ranging examination of the nature, causes, and consequences of poverty, particularly in developing countries. Green (head of research, Oxfam Great Britain) covers the lack of material means (e.g., lack of schools, absence of health facilities, and unavailability of medicines, food, shelter, and clothing) as indicators of poverty, but he also emphasizes the social and psychological effects of poverty, which depress human dignity. To eradicate poverty, material needs must be addressed, but Green also emphasizes the importance of enhancing the political and social power of poor people to ensure that poverty reduction measures are effective and self-sustaining. Using various case studies, he discusses the policies adopted in various countries and their effectiveness. Although the book is well written, it does not provide essential, readily available statistical information in support of the various arguments made. In this way, the study is more general than analytical. Policy makers dealing with issues related to poverty will benefit from this work. Summing Up: Recommended. Research and professional collections."

“From Poverty to Power is essential reading for anyone involved in change processes around the world. A new take on development for the 21st century, Oxfam International's new book provides critical insights into the massive human and economic costs of inequality and poverty and proposes realistic solutions. The best way to tackle them is through a combination of active citizens and effective nation states. Why active citizenship? Because people living in poverty must have a voice in deciding their own destiny, fighting for rights and justice in their own society, and holding states and the private sector to account. Why effective states? Because history shows that no country has prospered without a state structure than can actively manage the development process.”

"Oxfam's great strength is that it channels the moral outrage that global poverty evokes into effective action based on solid research. Green's new book is a comprehensive look at development in this tradition. Read it so you can understand why development requires not just effective governments, but also active citizens; not just good policies, but also good politics, not just local action, but global cooperation as well."

"From Poverty to Power has masterfully put in one place the tools we have all been waiting for: a strong analysis of how the forces of globalization and power are affecting the world's poor, inspirational examples of how effective states and enlightened citizens are shaping a more sustainable society in parts of the world, and a roadmap showing the rest of us to get on the path to a better world. This is not Green telling us what to do, its him showing us what the best of us are doing and letting us know they lead by example, and we can join."

"Tells us what we must do in the limited time we have to prevent a human and ecological tragedy that will affect, in one way or another, each and every one of us."

"From Poverty to Power reaches the parts of the global poverty agenda which most other analyses fail to reach–combining politics, markets and vulnerability, incorporating income distribution and grass roots action, drawing on Oxfam experience, and showing what citizens and states need to do. If you want to understand the challenge in a book which combines experience, intelligence and hope, this is it."

"Oxfam has a high reputation for books which combine careful and objective analysis with deep empathy for the poorest people on the planet. This one is no exception. Duncan Green’s focus on global inequality brings into the open a moral challenge and a practical issue which is all too often ignored. He tells us that the world needs both active citizens and effective states–a simple phrase but one which requires significant change in both rich and poor countries. This is a readable and relevant text."

"From Poverty to Power offers a panoramic and sophisticated view on how the world changes and how we can change it, based on a unique blend of solid academic understanding, serious activist experience, and political acumen. It deserves be a standard reference for social activists and policy-makers as well as a required reading for students in economics, politics, sociology, and development studies."

From Poverty to Power demonstrates a simple but profound truth: that the only form of human development worthy of the name is that which can successfully tackle the scourge of poverty. Freedom from poverty is not only a basic human right but also a public good and an essential component of the virtuous nexus between empowered citizens and accountable and effective states. I dare anyone to argue otherwise.”"Drawing on extensive on-the-ground experience from Oxfam and other development professionals around the world—as well as much personal reflection—From Poverty to Power argues cogently for a new perspective: one that recognises and commits to a development agenda that harnesses the contributions of poor people, accountable governments, and the private sector towards improvements for both societies and their environments."

"From Poverty to Power shines a spotlight on the root cause of so many of the world's problems—the disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. It should be required reading for governments, development officials, and all those with an interest in the key challenges facing our civilisation."

"From Poverty to Power captures in alarming detail the state of poverty and inequality between and within countries and the challenges faced by the poor and the vulnerable. It inspires hope and further advocacy by bringing to light success stories in the fight against poverty engineered by activism and ‘people’s power’ in Asia, South America and Africa. This in no small way reinforces our belief that the scourge of poverty and inequality can be defeated if citizens speak out and leaders engage fully with citizens in decision-making processes and on issues affecting them. This is expressly documented in this book as Oxfam argues that a combination of a vibrant citizenry and a strong state can lead to a reduction in poverty and levels of inequality. Written in an enlightening manner, From Poverty to Power is an invaluable resource for policy makers, international agencies, governments, campaigners and citizens around the world."

"Femmes Africa Solidarité would like to thank Oxfam for this brilliant initiative to document the structural causes and effects of poverty in the world. This book is a must have for all those interested in the provision of human security as opposed to military security. This book does justice to raising the spectre of inequalities in the world between the world's richest and poorest people and countries. It contributes to a better understanding of what to do to reduce global poverty."

"As the twenty first century begins, its problems are readily apparent. From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States Can Change the World discusses what can be done by those stricken with poverty to better help determine their own destiny and fight for a better future in their lives. A politically active population can force a state to be more effective and lead to greater harmony for all, and deal with the modern scourges - poverty, inequality, and environmental issues. From Poverty to Power is a strong addition to social issues and political science collections."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780855985936
  • Publisher: Oxfam Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Duncan Green has been Head of Research at Oxfam Great Britain since 2004. He is the author of several books on Latin America, including Faces of Latin America (third edition 2006) and Silent Revolution: The Rise and Crisis of Market Economics in Latin America (2003). He has been a Senior Policy Advisor on trade and development at the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Policy Analyst on trade and globalization at CAFOD.

Mark Fried coordinates advocacy for Oxfam Canada and writes regularly on policy issues related to international development.

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Table of Contents

Foreword; 1) Poverty, Inequality, and How Change Happens; 2) Power and Politics; 3) Power and Prosperity: Markets and Livelihoods; 4) Risk, Vulnerability, and Human Security; 5) The International System: Aid, Humanitarian System, the Role of nternational Institutions and INGOs; 6) Conclusion; Bibliography; References; Index.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Cosying up to the state is not the way forward

    Duncan Green, who works for Oxfam International, recommends cooperation, active citizenship and organisation. He writes that the key to development is an active, national developmental state - "there are no shortcuts, and neither aid nor NGOs can take its place; the road to development lies through the state."

    Only the state can provide free access to primary health care, education, clean water and sanitation, the free public services that emancipate women. Countries need 'massive and long-term investment in public health services'.

    But the IMF still forces privatisation and liberalisation on countries wanting loans. Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Reduction Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, developing countries must implement Structural Adjustment Programmes for decades, to get the debt cancellation promised as the swift solution to their urgent problems.

    Africa has 24% of the world's disease burden, but only 3% of the world's health workers, too many of whom migrate to the West. Poorer countries give the West $500 million a year in health workers. Jamaica and Grenada train five doctors for every one that stays. Yet Green writes, "Increasing the quantity and quality of migration is one of the most effective ways to tackle global poverty and inequality." But increasing the supply of labour cuts its price - which increases poverty.

    He reminds us that profits taken from developing countries rose from $17 billion in 1990 to $169 billion in 2005. The banks profit from every debt crisis, while the crises have cost the developing countries a quarter of their output in the last 25 years. As NatWest boasts, "Currency and interest rate volatility provided significant trading opportunities."

    Green then says that powerful states and corporations must stop doing harm. Indeed, that would be nice. He admits, "the private sector on its own has never achieved growth with equity", but he says this is because we haven't understood markets properly.

    He notes that reform proposals are always blocked by 'powerful governments and financial interests', that "Powerful interests profit from the lack of regulation . global institutions are weak or are dominated by governments in thrall to those vested interests" and that 'local elites' violently oppose land reform.
    Then he writes, absurdly, "Sustainable growth means . acknowledging that the private sector and trade . are the ultimate drivers of the economy, and it means supporting them with policies, investment, and institutions." That will make them change their spots! He admits the flaws in development thinking, chiefly 'excessive reformism without politics or history' - which this book exemplifies.

    Green observes, "the misguided actions of global institutions and the short-sighted policies of wealthy countries often pose threats to development." But is the problem really a lack of knowledge and of vision, to be put right by Oxfam's wisdom? This is the academics' fallacy, that if only our rulers knew better, they would do better.

    Does Oxfam really think anyone can persuade the world's capitalist classes to act against their own interests? We need the world's working classes to act in their own interests, to get rid of this failed, destructive system.

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