Problems created by gambling, usury, alcohol, drug abuse and mental health. Many detailed, insightful sociological books on the lives of the urban and rural poor reflect the symbolic interactionist perspective (Anderson, 1999; C. M. Duncan, 2000; Liebow, 1993; Rank, 1994). Marx held the Malthusian theory in great contempt. Because he was born in a log cabin and later became president, Abraham Lincoln’s life epitomizes the American Dream, which is the belief that people born into poverty can become successful through hard work. The functionalist perpesective is defined as the viewpoint that society is a system of interconnected parts that work together in harmony to maintain a state of balance and social equilibrium for the whole. However, this view ignores the fact that much of our stratification stems from lack of equal opportunity. When enough people in a society agree that a condition exists that threatens the quality of their lives and their most cherished values, and they also agree that something should be done to remedy it, sociologists say that society has defined that condition as a social problem. For this reason the European Union has proclaimed 2010 as. Sociological Focus, 35, 381–396. Functional theory argues that the promise of very high incomes is necessary to encourage talented people to pursue important careers such as surgery. If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help! If all does not go well, then the different parts of society must then adapt to re-establish a new order, stability, and productivity. It is neither necessary nor inevitable. This type of society is only possible in the imagination. On the other hand, some ethnographic research supports the individualistic explanation by showing that the poor do have certain values and follow certain practices that augment their plight (Small, et. In the early 1900s, functionalist theorists saw social problems like criminal deviance, as a form of social pathology. Although all children go to school, the background of some puts them behind their peers academically from the start. theory argues that the explanations offered by functionalism theory is part of what sustains poverty, as they conceal its true origins and encourage the poor to accept social arrangements rather than organize to combat them. Sociological Perspectives on Poverty; The Cambridge Handbook of Sociology. According to conflict theory, stratification results from lack of opportunity and discrimination against the poor and people of color. The second type of explanation follows from conflict theory and is a structural explanation that focuses on problems in American society that produce poverty. Coal miners make much less money than physicians, and professors, for better or worse, earn much less on the average than lawyers. In total, 2.7 billion struggle to survive on less than two dollars per day. If all goes well, the diverse parts of society produce order, stability, and productivity. This implies that if they do not move up the ladder, they lack the necessary merit. Absolute poverty, also known as subsistence poverty, is the idea that it is possible to create an absolute minimum standard of living required for physical health, this is often called the poverty line. Study for free with our range of university lectures! American Journal of Sociology, 78, 275–289. Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. I know the weight of constant worry over not having enough to fill a belly or fight an illness…Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. New York, NY: Crown Forum. It means having to walk more than one mile everyday simply to collect water and firewood; it means suffering diseases that were eradicated from rich countries decades ago. From a conflict perspective, poverty is imposed, reflecting unequal power among social groups, and it will continue to be imposed until those harmed by it manage to force a change. For example, during a financial recession and consequent high rates of unemployment and inflation, social programs are trimmed or cut, Schools offer fewer programmes and families tighten their budgets, so a new social order, stability, and productivity occurs. As later chapters in this book discuss, because of their race, ethnicity, gender, and class standing at birth, some people have less opportunity than others to acquire the skills and training they need to fill the types of jobs addressed by the functionalist approach. Gans, H. J. The theory ultimately attributes humanitarian efforts, altruism, democracy, civil rights, and other positive aspects of society to capitalistic designs meant to control the masses, and not to inherent interests in preserving society and social order. These books focus on different people in different places, but they all make very clear that the poor often lead lives of quiet desperation and must find ways of coping with the fact of being poor. Critics of the conflict perspective point to its overly negative view of society. (This example is very hypothetical, but please keep reading.) For example, in the film Pretty Woman, Richard Gere plays a rich businessman who hires a prostitute, played by Julia Roberts, to accompany him to swank parties and other affairs. Beycan, Tugce Vani, B. P. Bruggemann, Rainer and Suter, Christian 2019. Income poverty is the type of poverty measured by the federal government in the U.S. and documented by the U.S. Census. The figure used to define poverty on a global scale is living on less than $2 per day. It strikes at the soul” (Blow, 2011).


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