Clergy in Place in England: Bias to the Poor or Inverse Care Law?

Michael Anthony Hirst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Faith traditions frequently proclaim priority for the poor and socially marginalised, emphasising individual and collective responsibility towards those in poverty. Ordained ministers or clergy – possibly the main investment of religious organisations – play a key role in encouraging and fulfilling that commitment in their local settings. This paper considers the availability of clergy to provide pastoral care in areas of high socio-economic deprivation. Data from the 2011 census of England are used to correlate area variations in the number of clergy with household and neighbourhood deprivation. Findings show that clergy are distributed inversely to socio-economic deprivation at the ecological level. Fewer clergy are available or readily accessible in the most deprived areas, raising questions about their ability to respond pastorally and act politically on behalf of the poor. Market forces that draw clergy deployments towards less deprived areas warrant further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2068
Number of pages9
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number8
Early online date5 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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  • deprivation
  • inequality
  • social care
  • religion
  • north-south divide
  • census

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