sociology themes & perspectives - poverty

Topics: Sociology, Poverty, Marxism Pages: 5 (1401 words) Published: December 17, 2013
Using Information from at least two sociological perspectives, discuss some of the reasons why some social groups may be more likely to experience poverty. (1500 words) Poverty, how do we define this? Whichever way you look at poverty whether it be at a certain point in time, a place or a certain group of people, poverty is always subjective and relative to an individuals situation. In researching definitions to help explain poverty the following two definitions seem to help give clarity for the purposes of this essay. "Poverty is defined relative to the standards of living in a society at a specific time. People live in poverty when they are denied an income sufficient for their material needs and when these circumstances exclude them from taking part in activities which are an accepted part of daily life in that society." Scottish Poverty Information Unit "The most commonly used way to measure poverty is based on incomes. A person is considered poor if his or her income level falls below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs. (in the UK this is currently based on an average of £23,000)This minimum level is usually called the "poverty line". What is necessary to satisfy basic needs varies across time and societies. Therefore, poverty lines vary in time and place, and each country uses lines which are appropriate to its level of development, societal norms and values."The World Bank Organisation

Over the following paragraphs I shall consider two groups who are prone to poverty, based on the above definitions, firstly Ethnic Minorities using the Marxist and Functionalist theories as a basis for the explanation. I shall then go on to look at why Older people are also prone to poverty using the Feminist and Marxist theories. For Ethnic Minorities, as first generation immigrants into the UK, affordable accommodation was often only available in what are considered deprived or poorer areas of Towns and Cities. It is commonly thought that these areas are populated by the more poorly educated, due to the lack of quality education provision in poorer areas. Language barriers, especially for first generation immigrants also seemed to contribute to Ethnic groups being unable to escape from poverty. As a result of poorer education, and challenges with language, employment was often only to be found in low paid jobs, ethnic minorities were prepared to work for less than their British equivalents. Research from the website also suggests that ill health as a result of crowded conditions and the language barriers together with cultural beliefs in terms of seeking healthcare and medical support also have a significant impact on employability. The Marxist perspective would suggest this group of foreigners working in the country are treated poorly, are lower paid than their British equivalents and suffer higher unemployment which derives from the need in capitalist societies for a reserve army of labour. This would take the form of the Bourgeoisie exploiting the proletariat (in this case the Ethnic Minorities) as it is necessary to have a surplus of labour in order to keep wage costs down, since the greater the overall supply of labour, the weaker the bargaining position of workers. This combined with the language barriers, poorly educated individuals and higher than average ill health results in stigma's being attached to Ethnic minorities continuing the cycle of poverty in this group.

Statistics from research gleaned from the Joseph Rowntree foundation, suggests that poverty as a result of unemployment or lower paid employment, is not isolated to first generation immigrants, Ethnic minorities are still less likely to get a job here in the UK that their 'white' equivalent. Indeed statistics suggest that this group are also getting paid significantly less that their 'white' equivalent.

65% of Bangladeshi People are paid less than their white equivalent 55% of Pakistani people “

45% of Black...

References: Conference Board of Canada. (2013). Elderly Poverty. Available:
Haralambos & Holborn. (2008). Age & the Life Course. In: Martin Holborn &
Robin Heald sociology themes & perspectives
Haralambos & Holborn . (2008). Sociological perspectives. In: Martin Holborn
& Robin Heald sociology themes & perspectives
JRF. (2013). Poverty twice as likely for ethnic minority groups. Available:
(2013).Definitions of Poverty. Available: Last accessed 23rd October 2013.
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