“Poverty is relative, and the lack of food and of the necessities of life is not necessarily a hardship. Spiritual and social ostracism, the invasion of your privacy, are what constitute the pain of poverty” — Alice Foote MacDougall
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In this quote, Alice Foote MacDougall is arguing that the true hardship of poverty is not just a lack of material goods or money, but rather the social and psychological impacts. While lacking basic necessities like food can cause difficulties, MacDougall suggests what “constitute the pain of poverty” most are the feelings of being ostracized or excluded from mainstream society due to one’s economic status.
She also refers to how the privacy of those in poverty can easily be “invaded” through things like means-testing or oversight of how they spend any aid received. The quote aims to convey that poverty negatively affects people’s dignity, sense of belonging and autonomy – the social and emotional toll is what defines poverty’s true hardship more than any lack of income or resources alone.