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Poverty, violence and livelihood security in urban Colombia and Guatemala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cathy McIlwaine, Caroline Moser

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-130
Number of pages18
JournalProgress in Development Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

King's Authors


Set within the context of re-conceptualizing poverty to emphasize its multidimensionality, this paper argues for the need to extend existing debates on livelihood security to incorporate notions of physical and personal security, manifest in the form of violence and conflict. In turn, it suggests that research on security should continue its shift in focus towards human security, especially at the micro-level. These arguments are based on primary research conducted in Colombia and Guatemala, using inductive participatory urban appraisal (PUA) methodologies. These data highlight how both violence and physical safety are major concerns for the poor, often dominating their lives to a greater extent than income poverty. However, the paper also illustrates how violence, security and poverty interrelate in the eyes of the poor, often in causal ways. This ties in with recent theorizing on violence that emphasizes the need to identify multiple causality in explaining how and why violence emerges.

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