SY321 Lecture Notes - Nuclear Family, Fatalism, Middle Ages

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27 Jan 2013
Income and Poverty:
-difficult to determine poverty
-a political “hot potato”
-tense debate over if the definition should be absolute or relative
-absolute tends to focus on economic yard sticks
-ex. anyone who makes less than 20 000/yr is in poverty
-relative looks at people compared to other people
-not interested in absolute cutoff points but whether this person can lead a decent life given what a
person makes and the resources they have
Defining poverty:
-have political consequences
-b/c if you can capture the definition of poverty and get people to agree, this can influence political
-If someone owns a factory or office, they own that enterprise and they have property rights over it
-this doesn’t go on indefinitely
-need safe workplace
-have to have fair hiring laws and fair laws of promotion
-therefore, ownership of property is subject to limitations
-in 19th century employers would do what they wanted
-nowadays it’s harder to fire someone
-can consult lawyer who specializes in unjust firing
-can redistribute income
-take from the rich and give to the poor
-provide them with welfare benefits
-tax policies: graduated income tax system
-the more you make the more you pay
Explaining poverty:
-individual and structural
-poverty found everywhere throughout history
-conflict theorists say poverty is due to capitalism
-but capitalism is not as poor as other systems b/c they produce more wealth
-structural explanations against capitalism
-a poor individual in capitalist Canada has far more wealth than a fairly well to do person living in the
middle ages (fatalism)
-under fatalism most of the populations were peasants
-forced to give most of what they made to the Lord/King
Indirect explanation:
-look at the differences in characteristics of those who are poor and not poor
Culture of poverty argument:
-says that people are socialized by other poor people
-poor parents socialize their children
-have this poverty mentality
-therefore there is this cycle of povertypassed from one generation to the next
-due to habits picked up from parents
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