Book Chapter
Tackling intersecting inequalities

Insights from Brazil

A concern with absolute poverty, defined as a money-metric measure of the ability to meet basic subsistence needs, has occupied a central place within the international development agenda for much of its existence. Efforts in recent years to promote a more multidimensional understanding of poverty, with a particular focus on human capabilities, have met with some success, and there has been a growing literature on discrimination based on social identities such as race, gender, and ethnicity.

Attention to income inequalities waxed and waned in the earlier decades of development planning, but the issue has come on to the agenda in a more sustained way in recent years. The objective of this chapter is to bring these different concerns together by considering the intersection between material and identity-based inequalities and their consequences for the multiple dimensions of poverty and well-being.

We aim to do this by exploring the phenomenon of intersecting inequalities in the context of Brazil where it has deep roots in the country’s history. We examine the history of this phenomenon, its unexpected decline in the first decade or so of the twenty-first century and ask how and why this happened.