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Sociology 3358F/G
Nigmendra Narain

Explaining Poverty: -at one level, poverty is a social constructiondepends on the definition -individual-level explanations focus on the attributes of people who are poor -focuses on causes that lie “within the person” ex. Someone is poor due to low intelligence -some evidence suggests that personal attributes do explain a small amount of poverty ex. If someone has a physical disability then they have a higher risk of living in poverty -but not all people w/ disabilities live in poverty and majority of those who do, don’t have disabilities -thus, poverty for the most part is not a consequence of individuals attributes -another explanation focuses on the attitudes of individuals (attributes that are acquired not inherited) -ex. Low self-esteem, lack of achievement motivation, inability to delay gratification -poverty is perpetuated b/c poor families employ inadequate child-rearing practices that enhance bad attitudes -stresses “culture of poverty” as a way of thinking and acting shared by poor families -this reasoning dismissed by sociologists as “blaming the victim” Problems: -cause-and effect: people who are poor may develop “bad attitudes” because of poverty and not be the causes for it -many people who are poor do work, are religious, don’t smoke or drink etc -another explanation stresses the social organization of society, or subsystems in society, as explanations for poverty -ex. Capitalist economies (Canada) feature cyclical booms and busts, periods of low unemployment and high profits followed by high une
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