Ian Randle Publisher R nLntou • ,Minrni
First published in Jamaica, 2009 by an Randle Publishers
II Cunningham Avenue tons 686
Kingston 6 w W v.. unrandlcpublishers.con 9 2009, Nasser Musrapha Revised in 2009 National Library afJamaica Cataloguing- in-Publication Data M ustapha, Nasser Sociology for Caribbean Students
P ISBN 9 78-976637-355-9 (phk) To my w fe Nazisha and my children Nasha and Adiy for their understanding and support during this exercise
I. Social sciences - Textbooks 2. Sociology - Textbooks I. Tide 301 dc22
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At the end of this chapter, students should be able to: 1. explain the problems involved in defining and measuring poverty; 2. examine the different theoretical perspectives on poverty; 3. discuss the vulnerability of various categories of the poor in Caribbean societies; and 4. assess the contribution of Sociology to the analysis of poverty.
(i) Problems in defining poverty: (a) absolute or subsistence poverty; relative poverty; subjective poverty. (ii) Problems of measuring poverty: the use of the Poverty Line Model.
(iii) Theoretical perspectives on the causes and persistence of poverty: (a) `culture of poverty'; (h) Marxist perspectives; (c) conservative approach.
(iv) Categories of poor: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) people with special needs; the elderly, women, children and youth; the unemployed; single-parent families; indigenous people.
(v) Contribution of sociology to the analysis of poverty: (a) Social aspects; (b) Poverty alleviation policies (`needs'- and 'rights'-based perspectives); (c) Poverty alleviation strategies.
416 I Sociology for Caribbean Students
INTRODUCTION Throughout the world, even in the more affluent countries, many people are unable to satisfy their basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, and are thereby considered poor. As expected, the wants and needs of people vary from one society to another. Since poverty is sometimes a perception of oneself in relation to others, many prefer to define poverty in relation to the norms and values of a particular society.
Subjective poverty is a somewhat new concept in the field of poverty research. Definitions are based on surveys that use the households' own assessments of the minimum or 'just enough' levels of income or consumption needed by people like them. Chronic poverty is a type of poverty that is characterized by its permanence or duration. It therefore describes people who remain in poverty for most or all of their lives. Cyclical poverty describes poverty experienced only during stages of an individual's life cycle, such as during childhood or old age.
Sociologists and other social scientists have been interested in the study of poverty, thereby advancing many reasons for its root causes. In this first section, some of the terms pertaining to the study of poverty will be defined. These include: absolute/subsistence poverty, critical poverty, relative poverty, subjective poverty, chronic poverty, cyclical poverty and seasonal poverty. The issue of poverty eradication has been on the international agenda for several decades. However, it was only towards the end of the 1980s that a global concern for poverty resurfaced. This was due mainly to pressures from international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In addition, there were numerous studies documenting the detrimental economic and social consequences of most structural adjustment programmes (SAPS).
Seasonal poverty refers to...