Three studies from the Brazilian experience are presented to exemplify particular ways for the researcher to relate with the poor and the living world of poverty. These are: (a) describing ways of living in poverty, (b) evaluating programmes to eradicate poverty and (c) intervening in a poor community as a participant observer. The first example illustrates the effort to build categories sensitive to the systemic, autopoetic dynamics of families living in poverty. In the second study, the authors dis-cuss the impact and paradoxes of social interventions, considered from the standpoint of community voices. Finally, the article considers the different levels of meaning that constrain the dialogue between families and professional workers. These trends are discussed according to the dialogical models concerning the interplay of identity–alterity when it comes to the study of the living world of poverty, particularly Bibace’s partnership model.