Poverty as lack of autonomy: Bridging the absolute/relative divide?

In this paper, we present a definition of poverty centred on the notion of autonomy, understood as self-rule, and articulated around the various rights and freedoms required for the existence and exercise of autonomy. This definition, we argue, can accommodate both the relative concept of deprivation proposed by Townsend and the absolute concept proposed by Sen, and thus help to provide a unified account of poverty that applies across low, middle and high income countries.