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"How sociologists measure the extent of poverty is largely dependent on what definition of poverty is used." Discuss

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"How sociologists measure the extent of poverty is largely dependent on what definition of poverty is used." Discuss Poverty is a social inequality that no one should ever have to face, but it is sad to say that even in modern day times it is widely present in many societies. Sociologists measure poverty in two different ways; one-way is called Absolute poverty and the other being Relative poverty. In this essay I will be looking into both ways and examining their relation to poverty in everyday life. Absolute poverty studies look into what is needed for the necessities of life for a human being. The necessities of life used to only allow for food, shelter and clothes, but also nowadays education and protection from crime are also fundamental for peoples needs. Relative poverty studies give more value to life, by taking into account that people need to have more than just the necessities of life and allowing social needs. Absolute Poverty studies use a poverty line to measure poverty and any one that falls below that line is considered to be in poverty. The line is set at the minimum cost for standard living, by determining what is required then calculating what it costs to acquire them. The items that are allowed are mainly food, clothes, fuel and shelter. ...read more.


Relative poverty defines poverty in a completely different way that absolute poverty does, Peter Townsend developed it with an enlightened view. It allows more social needs, it recognises that people have needs to be met, whether that be going out for a night out with friends or having a television. Relative poverty studies, define poverty in terms of where people stand relative to others in the same country. If people fall below the standard of living that is norm for their country, then they are considered to be poor. Britain is considered to be an affluent country, thus making peoples needs for more materialistic items greater compared to those in a 3rd world country. Sociologists and people see relative poverty as having a more generous measure of poverty, but this study still sees that we need to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor in order to tackle poverty. Townsend's views were very interesting, however he had a lot of critics. His 'deprivation index' that assessed whether or not people were in poverty, had many questions, which people saw as unimportant to be a factor to consider poverty. Take 'Has not had a cooked breakfast most days of the week' for example, this confused people whether it was customary for the UK population to have a cooked breakfast, even in Townsend's own findings over two thirds of the population do not have a cooked breakfast ...read more.


So is poverty growing? I argue that it is not, my view on this is that we all want materialistic possessions that are not really essential to our everyday life, but to many of us these items are out of reach, so we escape into the relative poverty measures to define ourselves. However I feel that poverty does act as a social inequality for many. There is a whole nation of affluent people who can pay for private medical treatment, but if someone in poverty needs an operation they must wait patiently for the NHS to be able to fit them in, the cause for the operation may be causing pain leaving the person unable to work to drag them selves back out of poverty, whereas the affluent person could afford to pay a private hospital to carry out the operation thus resulting that they are able to get back to work quicker and do not occur great losses of earnings whilst waiting on a waiting list. Although I have criticised the measures of relative poverty, I feel that in are changing nation we need these measures to stop people at the bottom from being socially excluded. Yes poverty does still exist and politicians need to be aware of this and not allow people to fall into the poverty trap. Nicci Waterfield Sociology Inequality assignment 1 ...read more.

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