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The political exclusion of poor people in Britain and Israel: the poverty of democracy

Alon, Gal (2009) The political exclusion of poor people in Britain and Israel: the poverty of democracy. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Democracy purports to accurately reflect the choices of the general public. It is justly credited with the creation and expansion of modern mechanisms of redistribution. Yet, in recent decades it appears to have become more of an inhibitor than a catalyst in the pursuit of an equitable society. Those treated most unequally were not bystanders. Both in Britain and Israel, roughly two fifths of them did not support the expansion of the welfare state. This thesis shows their engagement with politics was often different than others. It observes the dynamics in a three-force triangle consisting of poor people, democracy and the welfare state. Even though historically this Triangle fuelled the movement towards progressive redistribution, the findings suggest it is no longer the pivotal engine to mitigate market inequalities. The principal beneficiaries of welfare appear to be incapable of mobilising democracy to expand it. The research indicates that poor people were alarmingly uncommitted to democracy and/or the welfare state. Although these institutions underpinned their social and political rights, many barely recognised how they serve their interests. In addition, the poor could not identify themselves as a collective, were more vulnerable to fallacies, emotions and traditions, and tended to prioritise other policy domains. This thesis challenges the operational definitions of political exclusion and illuminates the need to scrutinise and theorise the political behaviour of the underprivileged electorate. Policy-wise, a new strategy is required to revive relationships between poor people, democracies and welfare states. We should be looking at active and inclusive institutional mechanisms rather than technical solutions of postal or compulsory voting.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2009 Gal Alon
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Dean, Hartley and Townsend, Peter

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