SOC 08221 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Social Safety Net, Poverty Threshold, Extreme Poverty

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Chapter 2 Poverty and class inequality:
Poverty- Deficiencies in necessary material goods or desirable qualities, including economics,
social, political, and cultural.
Absolute measure- a threshold or line at or below which individuals or groups identified
as living poverty
- Based on threshold, usually annual income
Relative measure- A measure that looks at individuals or groups relative to the rest of
their community or society rather than setting an absolute line.
- Compares person or group to the rest of the community or society
Poverty threshold
Census Bureau considers age, family size, and number of dependent children
In 2016, poverty thresholds
- 4-person household (two children): US $24,339
- 3-person houseful (two children): US $19,337
Extreme poverty neighborhood
Areas with poverty rates of 40+ percent
Often have higher crimes, poor health outcomes, fewer education, and job opportunities.
Social safety net
Programs emerged to ameliorate problems related to the Great Depression
Charitable programs had been private
Example: social security, Medicare, means-tested programs.
Social class
Groups stratified by their access to resources
- Wealth, income, education, employment, land
Many Americans see United States as egalitarian (same equal opportunity) and classless
- myth of the self-made man
Self-made myth
The belief that anyone can rise from humble beginnings to become wealthy and
successful simply by applying him or herself.
Class as a social concept: According to Marx, social position revolves around one important
factor- ownership of the means of production
- Capitalists own factories and other mechanisms to produce goods.
- Working class sells their labor to capitalists in exchange for wage.
3 aspects of social structure (stratification) according to Weber
Class refers to a person’s position relative to the economic sector such as proprietor,
wage, laborer, or renter
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