Panel 3: Poverty consumption/Class-specific consumption

There is an existing consensus in poverty research according to which poverty, taking into account the socioeconomic stage of development, should be measured by different standards rather than only by one single criterion. In spite of this, a widely spread affinity to a narrower concept of poverty can be observed in Germany, conveyed by the media and strongly influenced by the mass misery in the Third World (Butterwegge 2011). In contrast, poverty consumption affects various areas of the lifeworld, where consumption decisions and sacrifices caused by budget restrictions are incurred. To reach a comprehensive understanding, it is necessary to relate the findings from these areas to one another. Poverty consumption always distinguishes itself by how the individual deals with consumer goods - in the context-related and intentional use, treatment and exploitation of consumer goods. Looking at the way income is spent in private households, more than focusing on income in itself, promises direct insight into the distribution of prosperity and participation (vgl. Becker 2010). Against the backdrop of a rigidifying social inequality, perhaps increasingly so, the question of class-specific consumption patterns has become a highly explosive topic. Especially with nutritional poverty, a dimension of social inequality is returning that was said to have been eradicated in the early post-war years. However, we are not being faced with a simple rollback. Instead, poverty consumption and nutritional poverty are leading to a possible differentiation and increasing inequality in terms of major social participation modes (Pfeiffer 2010). The quality of change can only be understood within the context of the general radical change in the social and production model (Bartelheimer/ Kädtler 2012). In an individualised society, poverty consumption is not just a problem of securing existential reproduction needs, but also one of social participation. On the one hand, a question arises opening up a whole new dimension in terms of what the possibilities are for lifestyle-adequate, individual decisions. The structural background is how the welfare state deals with poverty consumption in terms of its function to secure basic existential physiological needs, as well as in terms of its relevance in social integration through participation. On the other hand, should an increasing part of the population in our individualised society have only limited possibility to participate through consumption, the social-existential dimension of participation in society and the way it is arranged will be jeopardised. The goal of the panel is an in-depth discussion of the correlation between poverty consumption and social participation, in particular against the backdrop of welfare state principles. 



Prof. Dr. Sabine Pfeiffer/ Tobias Ritter/ Elke Oestreicher (Institute for Social Science Research): Nutritional poverty and alimentary participation

Prof. Dr. Stefan Selke (University of Furtwangen): Limited consumption autonomy as poverty relief? On the situational economy with "food banks" and similar offers of existential support

Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Andreß/ Katharina Hörstermann (University of Cologne): Nothing is settled which is not justly settled – Attitudes on a fair minimum income demand based on a vignette study and group discussion)



Butterwegge, C. (2011): Armut in einem reichen Land. Wie das Problem verharmlost und verdrängt wird. Frankfurt/M/New York (Campus).

Becker, I. (2010): Schichtspezifische Konsumniveaus und Konsumstrukturen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung prekärer Einkommensverhältnisse. Sozioökonomische Berichterstattung. Beitrag zum Werkstattgespräch 1 „Konsummuster: Differenzierung und Ungleichheit“, Göttingen, 18./19. Februar 2010,

Pfeiffer, S. (2010): Hunger in der Überflussgesellschaft. In: Selke, Stefan (Hg.): Kritik der Tafeln in Deutschland: Standortbestimmungen zu einem ambivalenten sozialen Problem. Wiesbaden (VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften), S. 91-107.

Bartelheimer, P. und Kädtler, J. (2012): Produktion und Teilhabe – Konzepte und Profil sozioökonomischer Berichterstattung. In: Forschungsverbund Sozioökonomischer Berichterstattung (Hrsg.): Berichterstattung zur sozioökonomischen Entwicklung in Deutschland. Teilhabe im Umbruch. Zweiter Bericht. S.41-85, Wiesbaden (VS Verlag).

Slides (German)
Pfeiffer, Sabine: Ernährungsarmut und alimentäre Teilhabe. PDF
Andreß, Hans-Jürgen/ Hörstermann, Katharina: „Nichts ist geregelt, was nicht gerecht geregelt ist“ - Einstellungen zu einem gerechten Einkommensmindestbedarf auf der Basis einer Vignettenstudie und Gruppendiskussionen. PDF
Selke, Stefan: Begrenzte Konsumautonomie als Armutslinderung? Zur situativen Ökonomie bei „Tafeln“ und ähnlichen existenzunterstützenden Hilfsangeboten PDF