A Chinese Beggars' Den (Paperback)

Poverty and Mobility in an Underclass Community

By David C. Schak

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822985693, 264pp.

Publication Date: February 15, 1988

List Price: 27.95*
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In this fascinating study of a community of Chinese beggars, David Schak offers evidence that challenges widely held theories on poverty. It is a path-breaking, systematic anthropological study that challenges long-held beliefs about poverty, and is one of the few works on beggars available.

Over a period of seven years, Schak's fieldwork uncovers a structure of leadership, organizational methods, and alms-getting tactics. Moreover, certain members became upwardly mobile and able to leave this lifestyle. The severe stigma of gambling, adultery, and failure to marry proved the stimulus for a younger generation to leave begging behind.

About the Author

David C. Schak is adjunct associate professor at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

Praise For A Chinese Beggars' Den: Poverty and Mobility in an Underclass Community

“Development studies have tended to ignore beggars as an unproductive social category, but a study of this subcategory of the poor in Taipei shows people with flexibility and creativity in day-to-day strategy, social organization, and macro-social relations. . . . Those concerned with the social mobility of the urban poor will find much of value.”
—World Development

“Interesting and scholarly . . . a contribution to the study of mendicancy and poverty.”
—American Anthropologist

“An important ethnographic look into a community of beggars in northern Taiwan. . . . A major addition to the new but growing literature on poor communities in China, and it contributes importantly to general theories of poverty and mobility.”
—Journal of Asian Studies