David C. Schak

David C. Schak

David C. Schak is adjunct associate professor at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

A Chinese Beggars’ Den

Poverty and Mobility in an Underclass Community

In this fascinating study of a community of Chinese beggars, David Schak offers evidence that challenges widely held theories on poverty. It is a path-breaking, systematic anthropological study that challenges long-held beliefs about poverty, and is one of the few works on beggars available.

Over a period of seven years, Schak's fieldwork uncovers a structure of leadership, organizational methods, and alms-getting tactics. Moreover, certain members became upwardly mobile and able to leave this lifestyle. The severe stigma of gambling, adultery, and failure to marry proved the stimulus for a younger generation to leave begging behind.