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

Poverty. This essay will give a detailed definition of poverty and will evaluate explanations for the existence and persistence of poverty. This essay will also analyse competing solutions to poverty with particular reference to the role of social policy

Extracts from this document...


This essay will give a detailed definition of poverty and will evaluate explanations for the existence and persistence of poverty. This essay will also analyse competing solutions to poverty with particular reference to the role of social policy. Sociologists have defined poverty in different ways. These are as absolute, relative, consensual and social exclusion. Absolute poverty is not having the very basics to live. In the 1980's, a social reformer, Seebhom Rowntree, set out to prove to a very sceptical public that there was a lot of poverty in the UK. Rowntree's aim was not just to research the extent of poverty, but to force parliament to do something about it. To prove just how bad the situation was Seebham Rowntree conducted a survey to discover the extent of poverty in Britain. First, though he had to provide a clear guide to the point at which people fell into poverty. He created a poverty line with which no reasonable person could disagree. He decided that the line was the income needed to ensure that a person was able to live healthily and work efficiently. To find the amount of income to reach this point, Rowntree added together the cost of a very basic diet; the costs of purchasing a minimum of clothes and the rent for housing. The poverty line was then drawn at the income needed to cover these costs. ...read more.


Social exclusion means being shut out of the economic, political and cultural systems which make up social life, so that excluded people are no longer integrated and do not feel that they are a full member of society. The governments report on social exclusion involves 24 separate measures across 9 areas which apply to both individuals and neighbourhoods. These are intended to provide an annual calculation of social exclusion so that the success or failure of government welfare policies can be measured. There are two explanations for the causes of poverty. The first stresses the process of dependency, and the second stresses the process of exclusion. Explanations which centre around the concept of dependency often stress that people who are in poverty are there because of some failing in themselves or the particular social group to which they belong. Within this approach to explaining the causes of poverty, we can distinguish blaming the individual, the underclass and the culture of poverty. The individual means that poverty is a result of the failure of the individual to achieve success through his or her own efforts. People who are poor are lazy or incompetent, and should try harder. The underclass is a more subtle development of the individual explanation and suggests that a distinct 'underclass' exists of people who are lazy and who make no effort to work or look after themselves. ...read more.


This approach contrasts with the dyswelfare explanation because it says that poverty is the direct result of the intended development of modern western society. There are various policies to try and combat poverty. These include changing the tax system to give money to those on low wages, this is good as it eliminates the poverty trap, but could end up subsidising low pay by employees. There is also the minimum wage but this is only good if people are in employment and if the minimum wage is high enough to eliminate poverty. Another way to eradicate poverty is to ensure people are in full time employment but this is out of the governments hands and would only eliminate poverty if wages/pensions are adequate. It has also been mentioned to increase the level of state benefits; this would be very expensive and would attract those who would prefer not to work. There is also a free market which is no government interference or at least as little as possible. This would definitely cause an increase in poverty for some if not a majority of the population. There is a considerable dispute over how to define and measure poverty. Social policy analysts have suggested several different ways to define poverty; absolute, relative, consensual and social exclusion. Each of these is linked to different forms of measurement. The different definitions and measurements will produce different figures as to the numbers in poverty and the extent of the problem. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Political & Economic Sociology 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 University Degree Political & Economic Sociology essays

  1. Do the poor only have themselves to blame for their poverty?

    Taylor, P. Richardson, J. Yeo, A. Marsh, I. Trobe, K. Pilkington, A. (1995: 182) this shows the poor need to take responsibility for their situation and not rely on the welfare state as their dependency. "Market liberal theorists also argue that recipients of benefits are also better off not workings" Taylor, P.

  2. There are various definitions of poverty

    Rowntree insisted that nothing must be bought that was not absolutely necessary and then whatever was bought was to be the cheapest possible (Townsend 1974). However it is very difficult to define what are necessities. Different people have different needs according to the society in which they live.

  1. An analysis of Isaiah Berlin's two concepts of Liberty with reference to John Stuart ...

    Elections minimize the risk of those who put private interests before the common good exercising their power for long. Monarchy, says Rousseau, puts the power of the government into the hands of an individual. Therefore this system is extremely dangerous.

  2. Social policy. Making use of welfare ideologies critically evaluate developments in social policy since ...

    Reference: - http://www.answers.com/topic/feminism webpage viewed on 26/2/2010 Book read: M. Lavalette, A. Prat (1997)social policy a conceptual and theoretical introduction, sage publications M. Lavalette, A. Pratt (2006) social policy theories concept and issues third addition, sage publication However the purpose of this discussion will be focused on the three main ideologies these are social democracy, new right and third way.

  1. What were the arguments of the New Right against the Welfare State(TM)? How were ...

    back on welfare expenditures by raising the eligibility criteria for income support, family credit and housing benefit." Giddens, (2006:372). An example of how the New Right affected social policy between 1979 and 1997 includes the 1980 Housing Act, which involved the privatisation of council housing, allowing individuals to buy rather

  2. Globalization. In terms of the novelty or emergence of globalisation, this essay shall ...

    one country may have a deficiency in oil which is an essential resource, if there is a lack of this resource, the only option is to import it from a country which has more than enough of it.

  1. Asset Based Welfare and the Enabling State. This essay intends to examine the ...

    Current Prime Minister and PAP member Lee Hsein Loong reminded Singaporeans that the government is staunchly against breeding dependency as this is deters investment and increases taxation, confirming also how enabling states emerge because of the imperative to remain competitive in a global market economy (Phang 2007, p.18).

  2. Why do policy makers see the family as central to the solutions of socil ...

    1970s was linked to a growing activity in the feminist movement (May 2002:74). In the 1970s feminism created the conditions in which women could share their experiences by introducing self-help and experience sharing in women's groups and women's centres, the issues raised in these discussions such as Poor Pay and

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