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Politics of the Poor - POL00088M

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Indrajit Roy
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module summary

Global inequality is a pressing political and moral challenge of our time. Nearly 40% of the world’s population lives under condition of severe deprivation. Global governance and international development institutions are increasingly concerned with formulating appropriate policies to eliminate poverty. However, our understanding of poverty-reduction and pro-poor policy-making has not always been accompanied by an analytical appreciation of how the poor engage with their political, social and economic environment, how they struggle against constraints and strive to secure fragmented livelihoods, and how they exercise their own agency.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

This module aims to enable students to develop their understanding of the political practices deployed by people in poverty. It will expose students to established and emerging analytical approaches to studying poor people’s politics. Even as the module introduces students to relevant concepts, it will also familiarise students with historical and contemporary cases on which to base their conceptual understanding. Through the ten weeks of the module, students will go on to develop memos based on the conceptual and case-based literature.

Students opting for the Politics module go on to careers in academia, policy and civil service, as well as the media and businesses. The analytical and conceptual skills they develop through the modules will help them achieve excellence in their respective careers.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

Appreciate the political dimension of public and collective practices of the poor.

Identify different conceptual approaches to studying the political practices of people in poverty.

Explain determinants of different political practices of the poor, and situate these practices in broader debates on the transition to Liberal democracy.

Academic and graduate skills

Communication skills: Develop and present memos to peers

Analytical writing skills: Write 500-word memos on a set situation, based on case material

Inter-personal skills: Work effectively in groups to produce memos for sharing and presenting to peers

Research skills: Independently research empirical data to supplement case literature.

Module content

A large portion of the seminars will be devoted to student teams working through particular political cases over the course of several weeks to develop written and oral presentations. Students will therefore be expected to be able to work with others, examine a case in the context of the conceptual literature and present these to one another.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive oral feedback through seminars and in feedback and guidance hours. Written feedback will be given on summative work within six weeks of submission.

Indicative reading

Thompson, E.P. (1971) The Moral Economy of the Crowd, Past and Present, 50: 76-136.

Scott, J. (1985) Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Auyro, J. (2002) Poor People’s Politics: Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy of Evita. Durham: Duke University Press.

Chatterjee, P. (2004) The Politics of the Governed: Politics in Most of the World. Columbia: Columbia University Press.

Bayat, A. (2010) Life as Politics. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.