Abstract This article presents some of the data gathered during the research phase or a local roundtable on poverty. Informants were asked about their vision of the causes of poverty and of the ways to eliminate it. Causes were seen as belonging to two categories: collective (or structural) and individual causes, the latter being understood as more accessible and, hence, as more pertinent to the informants' work. The answers to questions about the means to be used in trying to eliminate poverty were much less clear bur were also dichotomized in individual and collective means. Taken together, causes and tools made a coherent whole, bur were quite similar to those proposed by the Quebec state, which is somewhat surprising coming from people quite critical of that State and seeing themselves as belonging to "civil society." They were remarkable by their silence about politics and it is quite possible that this indicates a disillusion about political struggles and a scepticism about the real possibility of ending poverty.