Examining Poverty Through a Social Lens

Hervieux & Voltan (2018) define a social problem as an issue that is considered to impact most if not all society members either indirectly or directly. Every time people come together to live in one social setting, conflicts emerge from the differences in opinions concerning political problems, poverty, religion, cultural practices, health, and other hygiene issues. These are social issues affecting people from society to society. The social issue selected for discussion in this paper is poverty. Generally, poverty is defined as a condition of deprivation in well-being. The traditional perspective links well-being to control over the property. Therefore, the poor have inadequate income or have limited consumption to put them above the minimum threshold. As a social issue, poverty is connected to certain types of consumption. For example, people may be referred to as health poor, food poor, or house needy. The dimension of poverty can often be directly determined. For instance, poverty can be measured by evaluating levels of literacy or malnutrition. Therefore, in other terms, poverty is when one is extremely poor and they are unable to meet their basic requirements such as food, shelter, food, or clothing. It is a major social problem as it affects many societies across the world. Poverty needs to be addressed by implementing changes for the people living in poverty. It would benefit from examining poverty through a social lens because it severely affects shelter, education, and health.

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            Education is a critical component for many individuals to secure better-paying jobs in the future. People living in poverty may find it difficult to complete school because they have inadequate resources to finance their education. The United States of America is among the countries with a high rate of poverty. According to ChildFund International, poverty undermines a child’s preparation for school. It contributes to poor motor skills, poor physical health, diminishes a child’s potential to concentrate and recall school information, and compromised motivation, attentiveness, and curiosity (Hervieux & Voltan, 2018). Many children from poverty-stricken homes do not study past high school, and they do not see the college’s door. This leads to a continuous vicious cycle of poverty from generation to generation (Bhalla & Lapeyre, 2016). Children need educational empowerment to learn new expertise that will aid them as they grow older. If a certain child’s family is poor, they will have insufficient skills, and they will continue living in poverty when they are grown-ups and raise a family of theirs.

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            There is the necessary information that many people know concerning poverty, such as poverty being cyclic and redeeming oneself from that cycle is a big issue. People living in poverty make tough choices with the little money they get every day, with minimal or no error but with numerous judgments from those surrounding them. Most people who do not live-in poverty have a habit of criticizing the poor and blaming them for their purported laziness, lack of willingness or intelligence to make proper decisions. They believe that the poor people must have done something wrong, making them live such a life. These beliefs assist in the fueling of myths and stereotypes that negatively affect the people living in poverty.

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            Some of the myths surrounding poverty include the belief that people have weak work ethics and are unmotivated. Others also hold that social mobility is possible if people work hard. Another myth holds that poor parents are not primarily involved in their children’s learning as they have limited value for education. The myth that poverty is the natural result of a competitive economy stems from the common-point observation that some of the world’s most significant economies, such as the U.S., operate a high poverty economy. The myths drive the belief that the American economy is excellent poverty developing machine. Regardless of these myths, sociologists give different thinking based on facts about poverty. Sociologists bring new thinking based on facts that dismisses these cultural assumptions.  In sociology, the focus is on society’s organization and structure and their relation to social issues and individual lives affected by poverty.

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            According to Bhambra & Santos (2017), some sociologists more so active in the early 1970s and 1980s have tended to delineate by referring to the moral failing’s dependency, or fecklessness cultures. Other sociologists also dispute the myths and stereotypes surrounding poverty by holding that poverty can be understood due to the unequal distribution of opportunities and resources in society. According to sociologists, poverty is due to the declining effect of social class in society. Research has revealed that the procedure of reproducing class and social class is a core factor, especially for the continuity of poverty across a generation (Bhambra & Santos, 2017). Myths are a form of stigma, but they have no facts. Shame and stigma have affected the understanding of the poverty experienced in society. The primary concern is about the spending pattern of those living abject poverty subjected to stigmatization. According to sociologists, people’s social class is the largest component influencing the opportunities open to people. People who start life in poverty become susceptible to live in poverty later in their lives.

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            The sociological theories that can be applied in discussing poverty are structural-functionalism and conflict theory. According to structural-functionalism theory, the most crucial question to ask is what is the significance of stratification in society? The theory provides the answer to this question by arguing that every part of society, including poverty in one way or another, contributes to the system’s considerable stability. Structural-functionalists hold that inequality and stratification are constructive aspects that benefit society as they ascertain that the best individuals in society are at the top of the pyramid. Those who less fortunate are at the lowest part of the pyramid (Izadi et al. 2020). The people at the top are granted rewards and power because they have the ability. The high reward given to the top people is primarily for giving skilled people essential work in high-end occupations. According to the structural-functionalist theory, inequality ascertains that the most functionally crucial jobs are occupied by the most skilled and qualified.

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            Izadi et al. (2020) assert that the conflict theory gives a critique of structural-functionalism. First, the critique alludes that it is challenging to assess any job’s functional significance because a system of interdependence exists. As a result, this system makes all the positions necessary to the operation of society important. The second critique is that the structure of stratification is rational and fair. This implies that the best people stay at the top due to their superiority. However, as per the conflict theory, the system does not operate correctly in the real sense, and there are inhibitors to those who are qualified to ascend to the hierarchy.

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            The chosen concepts for this review are social change and deviance. The social change concept serves for the benefit of individuals and the world at large. Poverty would significantly earn from social change ideas. According to sociologist’s social change, alterations in human relationships and interactions change social and cultural institutions (Boone et al., 2018). These transformations take place over time, and usually, they have profound and long-term outcomes for society. The social change concept holds that poverty can be combated when the top of the hierarchy interact with those at the bottom. According to Boone et al. (2018), “When we interact with everybody in society without creating social class distinctions, we will learn that there are different perspectives and opportunities that we do not use due to the rift among the people.” Practicing social change is critical in bringing together diverse groups of society to discuss various social problems such as poverty. Poverty alleviation can happen when those sitting at the top of the hierarchy embrace the ideas of those at the bottom. This is because the leading cause of poverty has lacked opportunities; therefore, interactions between these social classes are the key to change.

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            Izadi et al. (2020) argue that deviance refers to behavior that corrodes social norms, and it is adequate to guarantee disapproval from the larger part of society. The deviance concept holds that poverty is continuous because the affluent are readily accepted in society, but the poor are subjected to stigma and stereotypes. Deviance among the poor people stems from a gap between a cultural focus on economic achievement and the lack of potential to accomplish such success via legitimate working approaches. The deviance concept recommends that the best way to fight bad behavior is to know its origins. Fighting poverty is among the significant ways of combating crime. Poverty and other community status lead to particular subcultures that young people acquire to enhance deviant behavior.             In conclusion, poverty is a severe social problem that needs adequate comprehension through sociological concepts. Being a socio-economic challenge, poverty needs to be addressed by promoting factors that positively influence people’s lives, such as education. Eradication of harmful influence components such as religious discrimination, unemployment, overpopulation, and corruption. Poverty has severe effects on people, such as hunger, poor sanitation, and illness. Poor sanitation is a great precursor to diseases and lack of clean water, increasing the chances of contracting vulnerable diseases. People have to adapt sociologists’ concepts in understanding that poverty is not an individual choice but a reflection of society.

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