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Part 2: Deserving or undeserving poor

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A key concept in Victorian attitudes towards poverty was that of the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor.

The deserving poor were those who were poor through no fault of their own, either because of illness, accident or age, or because there was no work available for them (perhaps because of a factory closure for example).

The undeserving poor were those who were poor because of laziness or personal problems like drunkenness.

Victorians were very concerned with how they could help the deserving poor without encouraging laziness in the undeserving poor.

Activity

Divide the following descriptions into those that would be seen as ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ of charity.

Hard-workingAlcoholic Moral
ResponsibleLazy Unlucky
DisabledElderly Sick
HealthyVagrant Able-bodied
OrphanUnmarried pregnant woman Criminal

 

Click here to go to Part 3.