Begging, Work and Citizenship

May 2015 - April 2016
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This pilot project will examine the intersection between begging, work and citizenship in the European Union. Requesting private persons for cash, food or other basic necessities of life by calling on emotions of pity, justice or fear has been a feature of societies in many parts of the world for centuries. In Europe, welfare states have seen the diminution – but not the extinction – of the phenomenon, and increasingly anti-begging legislation is being used across Europe to control the mobility of poor migrants. Whilst there has been considerable research on poverty, homelessness and the working poor, there have been remarkably few contemporary studies of begging. This is in stark contrast to the rich historical literature on vagrancy and begging. Studies that do exist focus on small scale city research and there has been no comparative European study on contemporary begging.

The project aims to explore and assess research questions such as: What is the definition of begging and its relation to work/the labour market and citizenship? How is begging gendered and racialised? What is the relation between mobility and begging? How are the deserving and the undeserving beggar imagined?

Through analysis and development of these and other questions, the project aims to develop at least two further research proposals, one comparative project examining begging in a minimum of four EU member states (UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain), and another on begging in the UK with a particular focus on mobile EU citizens.

Principal Investigator

Bridget Anderson


Jonathan Price
Sarah Walker


The John Fell/OUP Fund