SOCI 100 Chapter Notes -Human Capital Flight, Economic Inequality, Social Inequality

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Published on 17 Apr 2013
School
UBC
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCI 100
The Uses of Global Poverty: How Economic Inequality Benefits the West
Original article: Herbert Gans (1971): “The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All”
Now, extending functionalist analysis to explain existence of global poverty.
1. Ensure wealth of affordable goods for Western consumers
o Low wage work done in low income countries
o Allows reasonable pricing - due to low cost labour
o Globalized manufacturing process moved to low wage areas in poor states
o Low wages paid to poor migrant farm workers from Mexico in California
2. Benefit Western companies and shareholders in form of increased profit margins
o Reducing labour costs keep prices reasonable (benefits consumer) raise profit
margins
o Less costly the workforce, the greater opportunity for profit
3. Fosters access to resources in poor states that are needed or desired in the West
o Sell raw goods at low prices and western countries transform the resource into a more
valuable finished product
o Poor states cant derive full benefit of the resources they possess
4. Helps support Western medical advances
o Pool of guinea pigs for the testing of medicines developed for the use primarily in the
west
o Conducting drug trials on ill inhabitants of poor states
o Disease victims are treated as test subjects rather than patients
o Help speed new drugs into the marketplace
5. Contributes to advancement of Western economies and societies with human capital
o Poor states become intellectual feeders of well-educated and bright individuals whose
skills cant be fully rewarded in less developed states
o Brain drain offer attractive opportunities to highly educated workers from poorer states
(often pay the foreign workers less than the domestic equivalent)
6. May contribute to pacification of Western proletariat
o “Designer” goods that would only be available to the west‟s rich are now available to
average income people
o Due to low wage workers goods available to the masses (proletariats)
7. Poor countries make optimal dumping grounds for dangerous, expired, illegal goods
o Importation of foreign nuclear waste
o Dumping ground for hazardous junk from industrial giants
o Potential to earn $$$ in exchange for exposure to such goods/materials
8. Provides jobs for specialists those that assist, advise, study world‟s poor – or protect “better-
off” from them
o Goal of bringing western “know-how” to the poor with volunteer programs that promote
entrepreneurship and agricultural development
9. Benefits inhabitants in wealthy countries can feel good about helping global poor through
charitable work and giving
10. Poverty of less-developed states makes possible massive flow of resources westward
o America consumes a disproportionate share of the world‟s resources
o Most world resources flow westward
o West benefits form the fact that few can afford to consume at the rate its people do
11. Poorer countries, with higher reproduction rates than Western states, become useful
scapegoats for real and potential global environmental threats
o Rapid population growth of developing states vs. rapid consumption of resources by
developed states?
o Overdevelopment may be the bigger threat, but population growth is what‟s usually
linked to conditions of underdevelopment
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o Lack of birth control, need to have „extra‟ children – attractive alternative explanation
Phenomena like poverty can be eliminated only when they become dysfunctional for the affluent or powerful
or when the powerless can obtain enough power to change society. (Gans 372)
Chapter 9: Global Stratification
Global stratification patterns of social inequality in the world as a whole
Concentrated global income
Global Stratification
High Income Countries
The richest nations with the highest overall standards of living
60 countries
where Industrial Revolution first took place increased productivity and efficiency
Information Revolution
Canada, US, Western Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, HK, Japan, South /korea, Australia, New
Zealand
¾ of the people live in or near cities
Produce enough economic goods to enable their people to lead a comfortable material life
Enjoy 60% of world‟s total income
Production is capital intensive factories, machines, technology
Control world‟s financial markets
Per capita income: $13 000 - $35 000
Middle Income Countries
86 countries
Somewhat poorer than high income countries
Nations with a standard of living about average for the world as a whole
Per capita: $3 000 - $13 000
2/3 of the people live in cities; 1/3 in rural areas (no schools, medical care, housing or safe
drinking water)
90% of the world‟s nations fall in this category
Includes countries that once made up the Soviet Union (second world, socialist economies)
Latin America, some of Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, China
Low Income Countries
63 countries
Nations with a low standard of living in which most people are poor
Mostly agrarian societies with some industry
Central and East Africa, Asia
High population density
1/3 of the people live in the city
Most inhabit villages and farms
Limited industrial technology not very productive
Hunger, disease, unsafe housing
Advantages of this model:
Focuses on economic development rather than whether a society is capitalist or socialist
(first/second/third world)
Gives better picture regarding relative economic development of various countries because it
does not lump together all lower-income nations into a single “third world” category
Global Wealth and Poverty
The Severity of Poverty
Key reason why quality of life differs so much around the world: economic productivity is
lowest where population growth is highest
37% of the planet‟s population relies on only 9% of global income
Relative vs. Absolute Poverty
Relative poverty some people lack resources that are taken for granted by others
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Document Summary

The uses of global poverty: how economic inequality benefits the west. Original article: herbert gans (1971): the uses of poverty: the poor pay all . Phenomena like poverty can be eliminated only when they become dysfunctional for the affluent or powerful or when the powerless can obtain enough power to change society. (gans 372) Global stratification patterns of social inequality in the world as a whole. The richest nations with the highest overall standards of living. Where industrial revolution first took place increased productivity and efficiency . Canada, us, western europe, israel, saudi arabia, hk, japan, south /korea, australia, new. Of the people live in or near cities. Produce enough economic goods to enable their people to lead a comfortable material life. Production is capital intensive factories, machines, technology. Per capita income: 000 - 000. Nations with a standard of living about average for the world as a whole. Per capita: 000 - 000.

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