A class-based analysis of poverty reduction discussions and global middle-class argument in light of antagonistic character of capitalism: case study of Turkey between 2000-2020

Özgün, Gizem
The discussions about poverty, which started in 1980 and peaked in the 2000s, shifted from production relations to consumption relations. This orientation has reduced poverty debates to consumption relations and purchasing power by defining the poor at their consumption and purchasing power levels. Thus, based on monadic explanations, concepts such as individual-based social exclusion, citizenship rights, absolute poverty, and capability approach have replaced the class-based approach. Some debates have gone even further, linking poverty directly with economic growth and generating arguments that purely economic growth and globalization create a global middle class. Against this approach based on non-relational and individual-based explanations that divert poverty debates from historical, material, and class-based contexts, this study, taking Turkey as a case study between 2000-2020, explains poverty in line with the antagonistic character of capitalist accumulation. The study excludes 2021-2022 to subtract the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on the economy. It reviews the neoliberal policies, data, and articles on poverty reduction, global middle-class arguments, and the transformation of labor-capital relations through the Marxist understanding of the antagonistic character of capital accumulation and capital-labor relations in Turkey. By doing so, the study analyzes poverty with Marxist concepts of dispossession, depeasantization, and proletarianization, which serve the capital/wealth creation for the capitalist and poverty for the laboring classes. The study contends against the global middle-class argument and the poor being a separate group, not a part of the working class, and argues that the poor are part of the working class. It also focuses on an understanding of poverty which lies its roots in production relations and exploitation, not the market relations and consumption.


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Citation Formats
G. Özgün, “A class-based analysis of poverty reduction discussions and global middle-class argument in light of antagonistic character of capitalism: case study of Turkey between 2000-2020,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.