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Never the Twain Shall Meet: A Memetic Analysis of Poverty Perceptions


  • Federica Misturelli
  • Claire Heffernan


Poverty, as defined within development discourse, does not fully capture the reality in which the poor live, which is formed also by values and beliefs specific to a given culture and setting. This article uses a memetic approach to investigating the reality of poverty among pastoralists and urban dwellers in Kenya. By distinguishing the semantic space and the cultural context in which the definitions are framed, it enables the researcher to make sufficient generalisations while also recognising the differences between cultures. The results demonstrate how pastoralists and urban dwellers conceptualise poverty differently particularly in regard to causes. Further, the article suggests that development actors often utilise a Western construct which does not entirely reflect the values and beliefs of the poor. Copyright (c) The Authors 2009. Journal compilation (c) 2009 Overseas Development Institute..

Suggested Citation

  • Federica Misturelli & Claire Heffernan, 2009. "Never the Twain Shall Meet: A Memetic Analysis of Poverty Perceptions," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 27(2), pages 167-183, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:devpol:v:27:y:2009:i:2:p:167-183

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