• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Relation Between Consumerism and Poverty

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Relation Between Consumerism and Poverty The difficulty with poverty in countries such as Britain and the United States is that it can be seen as absurd to talk of poverty in present day advanced countries, "since those considered poor in the United States today have an income greater than the average per capita income of a hundred years ago, to say nothing of their being many times better off than the average Indian today.1" However, I would say that the poverty line depends on a particular society, on social conventions and the present-day living standards of a specific society, not on an unconditional criterion that can be applied to every country all the time. In trying to analytically observe cultural justifications of poverty, we first of all need to be familiar with poverty. Poverty is in general understood to be the stage at which deprivation is to be expected. There are two ways by which poverty is defined; absolute and relative. The first is not having the fundamentals to stay alive; these people do not have enough food, water and shelter. A person is impecunious when their earnings are not enough to achieve the minimum requirement for the preservation of physical effectiveness. 'Relative' poverty is a standard of living which most people throughout the world tolerate. This is the line from which poverty is measured. As it is put, 'the culture of poverty', is an unavoidable trap for most people. ...read more.

Middle

As they are not capable of consuming goods that supply high profits for the producers, they are considered "flawed consumers" and investing in their survival is seen as a misuse of money. Moreover, if the more wealthy consumers begin to help the poor they too will have less money to spend on profitable products. In these ways, the poor are considered to be a great burden to capitalist societies. The writer John Berger pointed out that "The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied... but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing." In order for the rich to live at the standard that they do, the majority have to go without, and this is one of the most important (if not the most important) causes of world poverty, even though it is overlooked or denied by a good number of people. Those considered poor today are not poor in the same way that is generally thought; one is poor not simply due to low income but largely due to the fact that this shortage of income means that, you are incapable of participation in society based on its norms and values. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the case of relative poverty, the influence of consumerism is more direct but in the case of absolute poverty, we can obviously give examples of how consumerism often ruins the lives of many in the undeveloped countries. It is in developed countries such as the UK where people suffer at the hands of consumerism with much less recognition. There is a contrast between the two types of suffering; those in the third world suffer more physically whereas those in the west suffer mentally in that they feel like an underclass and they feel as though they are not good enough because they do not have everything that they are told by consumerism, that they should have. 1 A.B.Atkinson. "The Economics of Inequality". Billings and son Ltd. Worcester. 1975. Pg 36 2 M.Ravallion. "Poverty Comparison: a guide to concepts and methods". Living Standards measurement Study Working Paper No 88. The World Bank. 1992 3 Z. Bauman. "Work, Consumerism and the New Poor". Open University Press. New York. 2005 Pg 59 4 http://www.progressives.org.uk/magazine 5 Z. Bauman. "Work, Consumerism and the New Poor". Open University Press. New York. 2005 Pg. 37 6 John Berger [http://www.progressives.org.uk/magazine/] 7 Z. Bauman. "Work, Consumerism and the New Poor". Open University Press. New York. 2005 Pg. 39 8 Marx & Engels. Communist Manifesto, 1848 [http://cal.csusb.edu/Faculty/Philosophy/moody/319%20Marx%20Communist%20Manifesto.htm] 9 Z. Bauman. "Work, Consumerism and the New Poor". Open University Press. New York. 2005 Pg. 66 10 Howard, Garnham, Fimister, Veit-Wilson. "Poverty. The Facts". CPAG. London. 2001. Pg. 15 Edwina Jessel SPS244 09/05/2007 Page 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Charities, Poverty and Development section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Charities, Poverty and Development essays

  1. The Ultimate Crime, Poverty

    They poison us morally and physically: they kill the happiness of society: they force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down into their abyss.

  2. This essay outlines, contrasts and critically discusses two definitions of poverty, namely absolute and ...

    Many noted sociologists have debated the terms of poverty. Karl Marx and Adam Smith recognised that relative poverty was a notion that prevented people from participating fully within the constraints of the society in which they lived. This was also a view that Townsend supported.

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

    Lack of respect for work A large number of men choosing not to take jobs Attitudes passed down through generations Boys grow-up without a father/wage earner role model and consequences of these factors result in families supported by welfare benefits on which they become dependent.

  2. Inequality is the main reason for the persistence of poverty - Discuss.

    in the dynamics of household incomes, giving rise to a low level unstable equilibrium'. Non linear dynamics may be caused by effects of past consumption on current productivity - the Dasgupta-Ray model of efficiency wages. Non-linear dynamics results when the rate of growth depends on the initial distribution of income

  1. CRITICALLY EXAMINE THE CULTURAL EXPLANATIONS OF POVERTY

    and Digby Anderson (1990) suggests. This underclass is classified below the working class and depends on benefits. Murray says that the classical characteristics of the underclass are: family instability, violent crime, drug abuse, dropping out of education and the labour market.

  2. RE poverty

    They could use these to discuss what they could do about the issues here, and also the teachings of Amos. In the Good Samaritan Catholics are told to love their neighbours and they are told that that includes all strangers, this means that we should share our wealth.

  1. Sociology of Poverty in Britain

    which are customary or at least widely encouraged or approved in the societies to which they belong'. Townsend operationalized this definition in the creation of his 'deprivation index', discovering that 22.9% of the population were in poverty in 1969 according to this criterion whilst by the state standard it was only 9.2.

  2. Wealth and Poverty

    CAFOD, Tearfund * Some Christians may run businesses in order to earn money which they use for the poor, others give large sums away to help the poor. * Some churches like the salvation army make work amongst the poor a key area of their lives.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work