The Morality of Inequality: Charity Encounters and the Making of “Real Need” in Austerity Portugal


  • Patrícia Alves de Matos Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Centro em Rede de Investigacão em Antropologia, Portugal


Parole chiave:

austerity, charity, inequality, needs, portugal


Austerity welfare reforms, often justified as a way of increasing efficiency, fairness and technical targeting in the provision of “those who are really in need”, intensified the transfer of welfare state provisioning responsibilities to private and not-for-profit organizations, which has been accompanied by the rising prominence of religious-based charity organizations as welfare providers. In this article I focus on the administrative interactions between volunteers and claimants that mediate the allocation and distribution of food charity provisioning in a Catholic parish. The analysis developed in this article suggests that under austerity, basic human needs are refashioned as an anti-politics device instrumental in the erosion of economic citizenship, capabilities and entitlements, ultimately enabling the simultaneous technical and moral legitimation of inequality and its outcomes.






The Everyday States of Austerity: Politics and Livelihoods in Europe