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Suffering and Thriving: Children’s Perspectives and Interpretations of Poverty and well-being in Rural Zambia

Drawing on the findings of a qualitative research in rural Zambia involving 24 children (9- to 16-year old), this article advances our understandings of the ways in which familial and intergenerational relationships influence the experiences, impacts, conceptualizations and interpretations of poverty. It is argued that boys and girls interpret poverty largely in social and relational terms – ways that mirror social interdependence. Key dimensions of poverty and well-being are discussed from children’s points of view: subjective (depending on individual perceptions and experiences), contextual (impacted by local rural livelihood circumstances), relational (linked with family and community) and processual (tied to the future). This research contributes to literature on childhood poverty and well-being, specifically on how children influence and are influenced by the socio-economic transformations of their community and how they attach meanings to their social and material contexts.