Poverty is often presented as an evolving concept linked to dominant development paradigms. However, changes in the meaning of specific topics comprising definitions of poverty have been largely overlooked. Therefore, the authors adopted a synchronic approach to evaluate changes contained within 159 definitions of poverty offered over a 30-year period from 1970s to 2000s. Component terms were investigated for their stability in meaning, through the application of De Saussure's concepts of signifier and signified. The results illustrate that terms often did not share the same signifier and, therefore, were accorded different meanings. In this manner, the authors argue that poverty is a highly contested concept.
- Poverty definitions
- Synchronic analysis