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Explain the terms 'Relative poverty', 'Absolute Poverty' and 'Culture of Poverty'.

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Introduction

Poverty and Deprivation. 1. Explain the terms 'Relative poverty', 'Absolute Poverty' and 'Culture of Poverty'. Absolute (or subsistence) Poverty is a term used to describe poverty that is measured as being without the resources to maintain health and physical efficiency. Basic human needs such as an amount of food, clothes and shelter are ways that 'being in' absolute poverty is measured. "a family is poor if it cannot afford to eat". (Keith Joseph, 1979). The concept of absolute poverty was developed by Rowntree in the 19th century. Usually measured as a minimum sum of money. Rowntree's early studies of York and Booth's Life and Labour in east London are both examples of a calculation of resources (money) needed to meet the needs of survival, therefore being classified as either 'in' or 'not in' absolute poverty.Absolute poverty is perhaps more linked to malnutrition which is particular important to developing countries and as Sen (1982) argues when looking at the whole world. "Malnutrition captures only one aspect of our idea of poverty... (but). must have a central place in the conception of poverty". Much sociological research looks at relative rather than absolute poverty. Harrington 1962 wrote in 'The Other America' "To have one bowl of rice in a society where all other people have half a bowl may well be a sign of achievement and intelligence. To have five bowls of rice in a society where the majority have a decent well balanced diet is a tragedy". ...read more.

Middle

British sociologist Dave Marsland also argues that state welfare benefits have gone too far. It locks the poor into dependency and does not encourage the poor to struggle! An alternative and largely Webrian view afford by Townsend agrees in part with Murry, that there is and 'underclass' but disagrees that it develops because of 'over-generosity' of benefits or 'personal inadequacy's' suggested by right wing ideologies. Rather than a behaviourist perspective many sociologists support explanations of poverty from a structural perspective. Taking the problem of poverty away from the individual (in the sense of blame) and seeing it as social inequalities arising from capitalism. A lack of educational and employment opportunities; Poor housing conditions Increased chances of long standing illnesses and disability - are just some of the social economic and enviournmental factors which prevent the poor from behaving the same way as the not poor, they have the same norms and values, but behaviour of the poor is a 'reaction to disadvantaged social situations'. An enviounmental factor such as a natural disaster could cause poverty. Economic climate can create more poverty, (for example no employment available to miners when the mines were shut). Also, misfortune, either individual, (for example a divorced or widowed spose) or collectively (such as a strike or war), all contribute to examples of the poor. Townsend believes that poverty and class are closely related. 'the majority of the poor occupy, (or have occupied) unskilled or semi-skilled jobs, and the poor are excluded from opportunities that are available to others. ...read more.

Conclusion

would agree that higher living standards have reduced the amount of people 'in absolute poverty', but in Townsend's view of relative terms there is still a higher proportion of the population in poverty and the wider the gap is growing between the richest and poorest people, the more poverty levels are likely to rise. The problem with statistics gathered regarding those on the 'state minimum poverty line' (Britain has never had an official poverty line) is being able to answer the following question: Are those in receipt of supplementary benefit (on that line) 'in' or 'out' of poverty? Those living at or just above the level of supplementary benefit of poverty up until 1995. Using those on benefits as a guide caused some problems, as any help given by the government to assist those in poverty for example increasing benefits available would indicate an increase in poverty levels and jeopardise the governments position to stay in power. Therefore partly for this reason, official statistical figures now relay on the 'Households Below Average Income,(HBAI)' figures which calculate the medium income of UK households. Despite attempts to rise in particular children out of poverty still up to 50 million children in the worlds richest countries are still growing up in poverty. In the Uk one in seven children grow up in poverty and a Unicef statement said, "No matter which of the commonly used measures is applied, the rate of poverty among children has increased over the last decade. But according to Unicef reports for the year 2004/2005 the government is on target of cutting child poverty by 25%, finally "turning around the Uk's appalling history on child poverty. ...read more.

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