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

This essay outlines, contrasts and critically discusses two definitions of poverty, namely absolute and relative. The essay initially seeks to define the political standing of poverty.

Extracts from this document...


Abstract This essay outlines, contrasts and critically discusses two definitions of poverty, namely absolute and relative. The essay initially seeks to define the political standing of poverty. It then goes on to discuss the two forms of poverty as defined and uses examples of research from Townsend and Oppenheim as the main contributors. The essay also refers to the work of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. In conclusion both terms of poverty, relative and absolute are critically analysed for appropriateness within modern society. The conclusions draw on other forms of poverty such as dependency and underclass and social exclusion. Word Count 1503 Essay question 4 Outline and critically discuss two different definitions of poverty. The concept of poverty in the UK is now recognised by the government as a 'pressing social concern'. 'Poverty is multi-dimensional. It is not only about money. It is also about jobs, access to public services, environment and ambition. It is about education, housing, the local environment, training, jobs, and your home and family life, being free from crime and drug abuse. So our vision for addressing child poverty is an all encompassing one. One, which straddles income, public services and jobs'. ...read more.


Therefore people who lack these vital materials for survival can be classed as living within absolute poverty. But, a key factor associated with absolute poverty is that although most people universally accept it, what is required to sustain life within a society is subject to change with time and place. So, even a basic definition such as this does not fully encompass all cultures and societies. It is therefore maybe more apt to define poverty within the realms of the society to which it refers to. This is where many would prefer to use the notion of relative poverty. Relative poverty is deemed to be socially constructed within societies and is subject to change with time and culture but fundamentally it refers to people who are living below a pre-defined standard of living. This pre-defined standard is in many countries related to the economics of the individual and the living standard that they are accustomed to and living within. Relative poverty is a definition based upon comparisons between the standards of living of the poor and the standard of living of other members of society who have not been classed as poor. It usually involves a measure of the average standard of the society in which poverty is being studied (Alcock, P, 1993) ...read more.


The job of monitoring poverty has been left to policy makers who through their own wisdom decide not to use the term poverty at all but prefer to define it as 'the lowest ten percent' or the 'minority of society'. Poverty is a real issue and although it can be defined through set definitions of absolute or relative, it has begun to evolve into more politically acceptable definitions such as dependant or socially excluded. These terms do not carry the negativity of the single term poverty. Both absolute and relative poverty try to encompass the defining factors of human existence in their definition of poverty but neither alone seems to define it. A combination of both terms moves us closer but universally this combined definition is not appropriate for use within a society outside the United Kingdom or any other country in which it is developed. The Joseph Rowntree inquiry probably defined a more apt method of defining poverty that does not look at the absolute aspect but focuses on the relative. It reflects a relative view of living standards and opportunities and provokes debate as to whether people should be able to participate fully within society and that social policy will not be overcome unless policy makers listen to those who are living in poverty (Oppenheim et al). ...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


    B.A.P.S has many functions and activities in the UK that involve both youths and adults. They include the following: 1. Annual national sponsored walk saw over 2000 participants walk the 10 km route, in all 41000 people were contacted to help raise funds for charitable purposes.

  2. The Ultimate Crime, Poverty

    His munitions factory was spotless and neat. It is run with perfect efficiency. "Cleanliness and respectability do not need justification; they justify themselves. I see no darkness here, no dreadfulness. In your Salvation shelter I saw poverty, misery, cold and hunger (136)."

  1. Poverty Essay

    Make Poverty History was a year long campaign in 2005, the year in which the G8 summit took place in Edinburgh. It aimed to highlight the plight of 3rd world poverty by peaceful demonstrations, including marches I went on in London and in Edinburgh.

  2. Wealth and poverty essay

    Christianity teach us that we should feed that hungry and clothe the naked, many modern Christians believe that they can fulfill this duty whilst having wealth themselves in material possession. I don't think that this is an acceptable Christian practice because they have the wealth themselves while the people outside

  1. Wealth and Poverty

    * Roman Catholic teaching states that 'God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor.' * 'Rich nations have a moral responsibility to help those who cannot ensure their own development.' * Christians may donate to, join campaigns or volunteer to help Christian aid agencies like Christian Aid,

  2. Wealth and Poverty

    Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa spent their lives working in Africa and India amongst those who had none of this life's wealth just like many of the followers of Jesus have spent their lives working with the very poorest people.

  1. RE poverty

    As homes are usually built with the little spare money families have, they tend to be basic and simple shelters. An earthquake or flood can destroy thousands of homes, or land that the population depends on for food. Droughts in Sudan often lead to crops simply not growing, and without

  2. Religion and Poverty

    other areas of the human condition, and that we should give generously whatever wealth and abilities we can spare. Christians believe, most importantly, that our good deeds should not be motivated by public recognition, but by sincerity towards the cause, because not only is it important to give to the poor, but also to be educated about their situations.

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