What We Get is what We Eat: How mothers in James Town, Accra use Help Networks to cope with Poverty

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This thesis provides insights into the lives of 20 mothers, living in the urban slum of James Town, Accra (Ghana). The focus of inquiry was to unravel how these mothers experience and cope with poverty, through the use of help networks. An ethnographic approach was used, carried out in two stages, in which open semi-structured interviews, social network mapping, observations, small talks and a focus group discussion were employed. To specify, the research approach was a mix of grounded theory and slight modes of hypothesis testing. In researching the topic, the concepts of multidimensional poverty, agency, survival strategies, and horizontal philanthropy were regarded important. The exchange which happens with networks follows a moral economy, which is guided by solidarity, reciprocity, dependency. The research is situated within the debate around poverty reduction, linking to the topics of ownership ad inclusive development. The main argument the researcher supports states that development actors are wrong in viewing the poor as passive. The findings indicate that the poor are active agents who build up their own help networks. They employ their contacts and various survival strategies to make ends meet. In this, family networks can be regarded to be the most effective, though they are not enabling a rise out of poverty. On the other hand, an NGO, through which access to the research population was gained, aims to provide help which enables its recipients to move out of poverty.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen