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Conceptualising 'precarious prosperity' - Empirical and Theoretical Elements for Debate
International Journal of Comparative Sociology
Empirical studies have recently pointed towards a socio-structural category largely overlooked in social inequality research: the dynamic positions of households adjacent to those of the poor and yet not representing those of the established, more prosperous positions in society. These results suggest that the population in this category fluctuates into and out of poverty more often than moving into and out of secure prosperity. This category - still lacking theoretical conceptualization - is characterized by both precariousness and a certain degree of prosperity; despite a restricted and uncertain living standard it holds a range of opportunities for action. We seek analytical elements to conceptualize 'precarious prosperity' for comparative empirical research by subjecting various concepts of social inequality research to critical scrutiny. We then operationally define 'precarious prosperity' to screen for this population in three countries. Based on qualitative interviews with households in precarious prosperity, we present first analyses of perceptions and household strategies that underline the relevance of the concept in different countries.
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