Sociology themes & perspectives – poverty BY Flowerpots Using Information from at least two sociological perspectives, discuss some of the reasons why some social groups may be more likely to experience poverty. (1 500 words) Poverty, how do we define this? Whichever way you look at poverty whether it be at a certain point In time, a place or a certain group of people, poverty is always subjective and relative to an individuals situation. In researching definitions to help explain poverty the following two definitions seem to help give clarity for the purposes of this essay.

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Poverty is defined relative to the standards of Miming In a society at a specific time. People live in poverty when they are denied an income sufficient for their material needs and when these circumstances exclude them from taking part In activities which are an accepted part of daily life In that society. ” Scottish Poverty Information unit “The most commonly used way to measure poverty is based on incomes. A person is considered poor if his or her income level falls below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs. In the UK this Is currently based on an average of EYE,OOH)This minimum level is usually called the poverty line”. What is necessary to satisfy basic needs varies across time and societies. Therefore, poverty lines vary In time and place, and each country uses lines which are appropriate to its level of development, societal norms and values. ” The World Bank Organization Over the following paragraphs I shall consider two groups who are prone to poverty, based on the above definitions, firstly Ethnic Minorities using the Marxist and Functionalist theories as a basis for the explanation.

I shall then go on to look at why Older people are also prone to poverty using the Feminist and Marxist theories. For Ethnic Minorities, as first generation immigrants into the I-J, affordable accommodation was often only available in what are considered deprived or poorer areas of Towns and Cities. It Is commonly thought that these areas are populated by the more poorly educated, due tothe lack of quality education provision in poorer areas. Language barriers, especially for first generation immigrants also seemed to contribute to Ethnic groups being unable to escape from poverty.

Page 2 Sociology themes & perspectives – poverty Essay

As a result of poorer education, and challenges with language, employment was often only to be mound in low paid Jobs,ethnic minorities were prepared to work for less than their British equivalents. Research from the Poverty. AC_UK website also suggests that ill health as a result of crowded conditions and the language barriers together with cultural beliefs in terms of seeking healthcare and medical support also have a significant Impact on employability.

The Marxist perspective would suggest this group of foreigners working in the country are treated poorly, are lower paid than their British equivalents and suffer higher unemployment which derives from the deed In capitalist societies for a reserve army of labor. This would take the form of the Bourgeoisie exploiting the proletariat (in this case the Ethnic Minorities) as it is necessary to have a surplus of labor In order to keep wage costs down, since the greater the overall supply of labor, the weaker the bargaining position of workers.

This combined with the language barriers, poorly educated individuals and higher than average ill health results in stigma’s being attached to Ethnic minorities Statistics from research gleaned from the Joseph Renters foundation, suggests that poverty as a result of unemployment or lower paid employment, is not isolated to first generation immigrants, Ethnic minorities are still less likely to get a Job here in the UK that their ‘white’ equivalent. Indeed statistics suggest that this group are also getting paid significantly less that their ‘white’ equivalent. 5% of Bangladesh People are paid less than their white equivalent 55% of Pakistani people ” 45% of Black African/Caribbean people ” reinforcing the Marxist perspective, only 20% of Bangladesh, 30% of Pakistanis, 40% of Black African/Caribbean are in full time employment by comparison to 50% of White British, suggesting that the Ethnic minorities are the proletariat and the white/ British the Bourgeoisie. The poor ‘proletariat’, remaining poor and the rich ‘Bourgeoisie only richer.

An alternative viewpoint from Functionalism would argue that everything has its place in Society, race is not recognized and all groups contribute to the overall social system, to the stability of society and that Ethnic minorities are a constituent element required to work together towards achieving overall equilibrium. Therefore this group are needed to carry out fundamental roles for Society to function effectively, a it like a living organism or the human body, each body part is required to work effectively to ensure full body function.

Society requires each social group in order to function effectively, in this case this group would perhaps be considered as the working class or the underclass and necessary to ensure industry functions, financial contributions to the economy as employees, funds sent overseas for family and subsequently further investment in this economy as well as essential national insurance and tax contributions to the welfare system for the benefit of all.

When we come to look at poverty within the older population members we need to first establish the current scale of this group to better understand the implications of poverty. Statistics suggest that currently worldwide, 35 in every 100 people are over 75, and if we continue at the current rates of progress this will number 75 in every 100 by 2050 (Conference board of Canada) as a result of people living longer and lower fertility rates. Statistics also suggest that a greater proportion of Older people are female, as they live longer than their male equivalent.

A large percentage of these females were not n paid employment and contributing to pensions, therefore their pensions are significantly less than their male equivalent. This could be explained by the conflict theory of Feminism, who believe that we live in a ‘patriarchal society’, where women are exploited by men and they are seen as different classes (Harmless & Holbrook), men went out to work, paid their stamp (National Insurance contributions) and looked after the money. Women were to stay at home and look after the children. Exulted in either very low pensions or a reliance on state pension only. Many of Hess individuals (a significant proportion of whom are females) who had no family, and therefore have little or no help or support to look after them and find themselves when in poor or ill health in nursing homes and often dependent on the state.

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