Poverty has been a central focus of development since the 1960s. Despite a marked decrease in poverty worldwide, the incidence of poverty remains high; where one in ten people live under the international poverty line of $1.90 a day. In light of the persistence of poverty, international efforts to “make poverty history” have been pursued. Neoliberalism is an economic policy characterized by state retrenchment, free trade, market liberalization, deregulation, privatization, commercialized social programs, and foreign investment. Since its triumph over communism, neoliberalism marked “the end of history.” This thesis examines poverty reduction and neoliberalism in the context of international development in order to illustrate how poverty is perpetuated through international policies of inclusive neoliberalism. Much like a pendulum, international development has oscillated between efforts to reduce poverty to the advancement of neoliberalism. The primary concern of this thesis is how poverty is sustained through international poverty reduction strategies that implicitly employ the tenets of neoliberalism in the pursuit of development. More specifically, this thesis illustrates the tension that is created when the logic of neoliberalism collides with the logic of inclusion as contained in poverty reduction strategies. There is a paradox whereby poverty reduction strategies deployed by international development institutions work against their purported aims when implicitly employing the tenets of neoliberalism. This thesis employs a Gramscian and Neo-Gramscian framework whereby the poor can be examined simultaneously alongside the overarching neoliberal hegemony that is complicit in their abject poverty. Assessing inclusive neoliberalism through a Gramscian framework offers a gateway to analyzing the determinants of existing structural global imbalances that sustain poverty. The thesis is argued through case studies of microfinance and conditional cash transfers internationally followed by a consideration of their application in Egypt. This thesis argues that, as tools of inclusive neoliberalism, these two initiatives undertaken to reduce poverty have instead reinvented ways to integrate the poor into the world market.


Law Department

Degree Name

MA in International Human Rights Law

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2017

First Advisor

Natarajan, Usha

Committee Member 1

Beckett, Jason

Committee Member 2

Awad, Ibrahim


74 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item