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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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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