Free Essay: Poverty in Society
Poverty is a matter of great concern across the societies in the world, and there have been several efforts to eradicate this menace at individual, community, national and international levels especially in the developing nations, where absolute poverty is at high stakes. Various sociological ideologies have been developed to explain the issue of poverty in society, with the objective of improving our understanding of it. This paper seeks to undertake the exploration of the issue of poverty in society and outline the various sociological theories that try to explain this phenomenon. It also highlights the reasons why poverty is critical in society, with emphasis on the importance of sociological research on it, as well as the potential implications of the sociological inquiry into the matter.
Poverty is the condition or state of lacking enough resources and essentials for enjoying minimum living standards and well-being that is considered acceptable in society. It is an important issue to be explored due to its relationship with other social issues like conflict between social classes, crime, and other forms of ills. It has political implications in most countries since it is centrally placed in many policy issues and political activities, especially in the election of leaders into public offices. Individuals and non-governmental bodies are taking part in poverty eradication programs locally while governments and international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank are dealing with the menace at the national and regional levels so as to shield the poor from suffering.
The first objective of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is the eradication of absolute or extreme poverty in the world by the year 2015 (Usher, 2005 p.14). Even though several countries have progressed in the eradication of absolute poverty, there are no chances that the goal will be soon achieved since extreme poverty is still very rampant, especially in developing nations. The World Bank has been giving loans and grants for development to developing countries in order to eradicate poverty (Jones, 2006 p.91). Such financial aid is often used in the development of basic infrastructure and stimulation of economic growth in different sectors of the economy for the improvement of people’s incomes so as to cut down the levels of poverty.
There are various sociological theories that try to explain the origins of poverty and its effects on society. This issue has been significantly explored by the conflict theory of poverty developed by Karl Marx. Marx argues that capitalism is the source of poverty and conflicts in the social classes that exist in society. He points out that a capitalist society is characterized by the bourgeoisie and the working class who own the means of production. The working class (proletariat) is dependent on the bourgeoisie for wages in order to earn a living (Evans, 2003, p.128). The wealth gap between the two factions is significant, and is mainly responsible for sustainable production and maintaining social classes. For enhanced profits, the bourgeoisie has to cut down the wages of the working class, hence, making them continue being dependent and poor.
Religion also plays an important role in the maintenance of poverty across the globe since it promises the poor, abundant wealth in heaven. This makes the believers reluctant in responding to their situation of poverty on earth. Poverty and other sets of inequalities are sources of class conflict in society, which can lead to uprisings and revolutions, like the French Revolution. Therefore, the theory by Marx can be crucial in the exploration of how poverty can be caused and sustained through religion and capitalism. It can be significant in the analysis of poverty distribution across different societies that are segregated by religion and economic structures.
This sociological ideology of structural functionalism has also tried to explain and foster the understanding of the issue of poverty by outlining that poverty is a result of institutional breakdown (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2013, p. 173-174). For example, the family structure determines its chances of living in poverty. It raises the argument that extended families have the likelihood of enjoying economic and other social rights compared to other family structures.
Single parents are, thus, likely to expose their children to grow up in poverty, which will also impact the quality of education that they receive. Since such children are likely to receive low-quality education or drop out of school, they can remain in poverty, thereby continuing the vicious cycle of poverty. The theory also argues that poverty serves a critical purpose in society; it is responsible for its stability through the production of goods and services through the poor working for the wealthy so as to earn a living.
Despite the fact that poverty can lead to deviance and human suffering, most people still do not recognize that the creation of free markets across the globe can intensify the levels of poverty, especially in developing countries. This can be illustrated by the fact that the developed nations compete at a higher level compared to their developing counterparts. The flooding of foreign goods in the local markets of developing countries can prevent the growth and development of their industrial structures, thereby increasing their poverty levels. Poverty is often being viewed as a tool for regulating the relationship between societies. For example, economic grants for the eradication of poverty are often used as tools for bargaining for other mutual favors that may turn out to be exploitative on less-developed nations.
Sociological research on poverty can be applied in understanding the different situations of poverty among societies that are inclined to different market and religious structures. A sociological inquiry into this matter can result in customized solutions to the menace of poverty that can be instrumental in certain societies owing to their unique situations. The understanding of poverty through sociological inquiry can facilitate the determination of its interconnectivity with other social problems like crimes, societal dynamics, and deviance, which can also lead to the establishment of an integrated approach for obtaining a solution to these issues.
Evans, M. (2003). Karl Marx. London: Routledge Publishers.
Jones, P. W. (2006). Education, poverty and the World Bank. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Mooney, L. A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2013). Understanding social problems. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Usher, E. (2005). The Millennium Development Goals and migration. Geneva: International Organization for Migration.
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