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The following context comes from the book "Black Redneck And White Liberals" by Thomas Sowell.

Despite the frugal living common to middleman minorities around the world, they have also been notable for their donations to their own charitable institutions, such as hospitals and schools, and often to charitable institutions serving the larger society around them. At a minimum, they have avoided the social stigma of having the poorer individuals and families in their respective groups become public charges on the larger society.

One of the definitions for "charge" is:

  1. An act or course of action that is demanded of one, as by position, custom, law, or religion: burden, commitment, duty, imperative, must, need, obligation, responsibility.

As you can see one of the synonys is burden. Does the sentence in question mean "At a minimum, they have avoided the social stigma of having the poorer individuals and families in their respective groups become public burdens on the larger society.?

1 Answer 1

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In this context, yes, charge may convey:

  • burden on

though, less judgementally, may also be read as:

  • responsibility of
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  • I was confused by the use of "on" after charge. Would this sentence be correct as well if I said "public charges of the larger society"? Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 15:11
  • When referencing demographics and society we commonly use "charge on society".
    – Rounin
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 15:33

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