A Chinese Beggars’ Den

Poverty and Mobility in an Underclass Community

Development studies have tended to ignore beggars as an unproductive social category, but a study of this subcategory of the poor in Taipei shows people with flexibility and creativity in day-to-day strategy, social organization, and macro-social relations. . . . Those concerned with the social mobility of the urban poor will find much of value.
World Development

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.

264 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

February, 1988

isbn : 9780822985693

about the author

David C. Schak

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

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David C. Schak