Poverty: A Global Issue Essay

1698 words - 7 pages

Charles Williams
Introduction to Sociology – SOC100
October 29, 2011

1. Describe how society defines poverty.
Poverty is a condition in which a person or community is deprived of, or lacks the essentials for a minimum standard of well-being and life. Since poverty is understood in many senses, these essentials may be material resources such as food, safe drinking water, and shelter, or they may be social resources such as access to information, education, health care, social status, political power, or the opportunity to develop meaningful connections with other people in society. Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations. ...view middle of the document...

As a practice, this has made numerous poor Americans to embrace the prevalent notion that they contributed towards the formation of their present situations. For instance, America is the only realm on the planet where being itinerant is considered a crime. Kerbo (p, 423).
In public opinion polls, most Americans say that poverty begins north of an annual income of $20,000 for a family of four. Not even the Census Bureau believes its poverty numbers. Defining poverty is not easy. Even if the Census Bureau's new measure calculates necessary expenditures more accurately than the current formula, the new approach, like the current one, still uses income as the single criterion for judging who is poor (Uchitelle, 2001). That leaves out neighborhoods, for instance. According to Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate in economics, poverty can be defined as, “the lack of freedom to have or to do basic things that you value. By that definition, a family that wants to move to an adequate neighborhood but cannot afford to do so or is prevented by discrimination from doing so is impoverished.
2. Describe the social category(ies) that may be affected by poverty.
Most societies, rich and poor, seek to measure progress in reducing poverty and need, as indicated by material deprivation or social exclusion. The yardstick used to assess progress and policy impact mainly include income-based poverty, but broader measures of poverty based on consumption, wealth, and material deprivation are also now coming into use (Smeeding, 2006). The relationship between the rich and poor, and the impacts on the environment go deep. Economics is meant to be about efficient allocation of resources to meet everyone’s needs. However, international power politics and ideologies have continued to influence policies in such a way that decision-making remains concentrated in the hands of a few. Thus, the world’s resources are allocated to meet a few people’s wants, and not everyone’s needs. Many people have been forced into poverty due to politics, economics and war. These issues such as concentrated land rights and industrial pressure to exploit the environment destroy diversity and force population dispersion. When considering the theory of sustainable development, we need to acknowledge that native populations, though poor, often have an inherent knowledge about their environment and can be sustainers and efficient users of it if only for survival.
Harriss-White (2006) sets out eight key poverty-creating processes of capitalism:
(1) the dispossession that occurs with ‘primitive accumulation’ as the precondition
for productive investment; (2) the reproduction of pauperizing petty commodity
production; (3) the creation of pools of unemployment; (4) the commodification and
commercializing of services to meet physical and emotional needs; (5) the production
of pauperizing and socially harmful commodities and waste (for example, weapons,

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