Investigating Perceptions of Poverty - A Comparative Study of How Culture Influences Defining Poverty in Ikanga, Tanzania and Peaks Island, United States of America


Author/Creator ORCID




Hood College Political Science


Hood College Departmental Honors

Citation of Original Publication




One often understands poverty as an issue of economics. At least, this is the existing assumption in many Western nations. And yet, when examining historical definitions of poverty, it becomes readily apparent that definitions and interpretations of poverty widely differ across geographic regions. In Arabic tradition, for example, poverty is regarded as the “inability of an individual to satisfy his own basic needs and the needs of his dependents”, and can be expressed through only being able to afford millet-bread and when an individual is forced to sell the decoration items on his sword (the equivalent in today’s standards would be to sell non-essential material belongings). Australian approaches to poverty differ quite strongly, as poverty is considered an immoveable marker, and nationally has established ‘a definition of poverty so austere as, we believe, to make it unchallengeable. No one can seriously argue that those we define as being poor are not so”. The European Union, by contrast, regards poverty as a relative concept that can exhibit different characteristics depending on culture and location. This paper seeks to explore whether culture plays a role in influencing perceptions of poverty by comparing perceptions of poverty in two different communities.