This paper presents Australian young people's perspectives on deprivation that they experience in the space of food and clothing. Amartya Sen's Capability Approach is used to characterise this as absolute capability deprivation. Lack of adequate food and clothing denies young people the capability to avoid shame and severely inhibits the intrinsically important capabilities of social participation and engagement in education. We use data obtained from groupwork and in-depth interviews with 193 young people to explore young Australians' experience of severe deprivation in food and clothing. Their stories are integrated with data on severe deprivation collected in a nationally representative survey of 9–14 year olds (N = 5440). The survey data show that food and clothing deprivation is notable among young people who are marginalised in other respects, for example, young people with disability, young carers and Indigenous young people. The analysis shows that the experience of severe deprivation in the space of food and clothing is associated with feelings of shame, exclusion from participation, and low levels of engagement with education. We consider how neoliberal constructions of poverty exacerbate young people's experience of deprivation, while at the same time undermining the contemporary political agenda of maximising human capital development.
- young people