If the poor are perceived to be poor because of their responsibility, we tend to believe that they do not deserve our help.

If the poor are perceived to be poor because of their responsibility, we tend to believe that they do not deserve our help.

The concept that the poor are poor because they deserve it or that they are somehow unworthy dates back to Victorian times .

However, according to this recent study on food poverty, these attitudes are still alive today, and they are a very important part of how those who receive a benefit from social security are perceived .

Poor unworthy

According to the aforementioned study, people consider or tend to consider that the poor are indolent, that they are not trying hard enough to alleviate their own difficulties, which makes them less deserving of help .

The idea of ​​the deserving and unworthy poor is linked to our understanding of the causes of poverty: whether it is the result of "agency" or "structure." Agency refers to the actions of an individual, while structure is the external forces that may have led to the poverty of an individual.

If we are in the second case, then many people consider that the poor do not deserve help, as this tweet exemplifies:


For example, if people with financial problems spent money on conspicuous or considered services, such as a streaming service or a manicure service, it was understood that they did not deserve help to feed their children. Or if they did not buy cheap and abundant food, it was considered that somehow they did not manage their resources well and they deserved their situation . Yet perhaps poor people are not so badly hit that they need to vent in one way or another, or have they not received enough support to manage their resources more intelligently?

It is something similar to when, in a debate on Spanish television, a polemicist pointed out that an activist policy : "you are too chubby for the hunger that happens" (when in reality it is precisely the poor who are the most obese because they eat cheaper and more caloric food ).

Poor people are often born with various burdens, even on a neurochemical level, just as if they had been affected by a virus. They have less self-control, less tenacity, less intelligence, less ability to prosper, generally speaking; Furthermore, this is not so much a question of poverty itself as of inequality. So, in the debate about whether or not someone is responsible for their situation, we should at least be aware of it , as I explained in the following talk given at the BCNspiracy TALKS 2020 :