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Chapter 10

Chapter 10- Poverty.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course
Sociology 2140
Professor
Paul Whitehead
Semester
Fall

Description
10- Poverty November-02-12 12:17 PM Poverty: lack of resources necessary for material well being (mostly food and water, but also housing and health care) Absolute poverty: chronic absence of the basic necessities of life, leading to hunger and physical deprivation Relative poverty: deficiency in material and economic resources compared with other populations International measures of poverty: World Bank sets a ‘poverty threshold’ of $1 per day to compare poverty in most developing worlds -2.8 million (half the worlds population) survive on less than $2 per day, and 1/5 of the world have $1 per day -WHO (world health organization): is based on household’s ability to meet the minimum calorie requirements of its members -Household is considered poor if it cannot meet 80% of the minimum caloric requirements -In poverty countries; a household is considered poor if their household income is less than 50% of the median household income in that country -Poverty is multidimensional HPI (human poverty index): composite measure of poverty based on 3 measures of deprivation 1) Deprivation of a long, healthy life 2) Deprivation of knowledge 3) Deprivation of decent living standards (% of people without access to health services, the % of people without access to safe water, and the % of malnourished children under 5) -Measures in poverty tell us how many people are living in poverty in a given year -We can also note the degree to which those who are poor stay in poverty from year to year -If the same proportions of people remain poor year after year, there must be reasons beyond individual characteristics to explain the persistence of poverty Longevity Knowledge Decent standard of living Social exclusion Developing Probability at Adult % of people without access countries birth of not illiteracy to safe water; health surviving to age services, or who are 40 underweight under age 5 Industrialized Probability at Adult % of people living below Measured by the rate of countries birth of not functional the income poverty line, long term surviving to age illiteracy rate which is set at 50% of unemployment (greater 60 median disposable income then 12 months) Canadian measures of poverty: stats Canada developed the low income cut offs as a measure of poverty in 1968 -Agency added 20 percentage points to determine the cut off (because they estimated that poor families spend 34.7% or more of their pre-tax income on the basic needs) -This standard suggests that people who spend 54.7% of their pre-tax income on food, shelter, and clothing would experience financial difficulty -Different low income cut off lines are established by Stats Can for different communities as well as for families of varying sizes within these communities àMarket basket measure (MBM): based on the concept of ‘necessaries’ as defined by the 18 centuryh economist Adam Smith -Assessment of the minimum level of income required to provide for the basic needs that a given society find it ‘indecent’ to be without -Necessaries are broader than what is needed for mere subsistence; yet, some necessary items simply do not count in the MBM àLow income measure (LIM): stats Canada has established a figure for the needs of one adult and proceeded on the assumption that family needs increase in proportion to family size, with each additional adult increasing the family needs by 40% of the first adult and every additional child is 30% Global Poverty Report: found that globally the proportion of people living on less than $1 per day fell from 29% in 1987 to 26% in 1998 -Aboriginal populations in Canada remain largely excluded from the nations general prosperity -Richest 1% of adults in the world own 40% of global household wealth -Poorest half of the world owns barely 1% of global wealth -Some improvements but still a huge problem -Poorest countries are poor because they are insufficiently globalized Theories Structural-Functionalist perspective: social stratification serves several positive functions -Unequal economic reward system helps to ensure that the person who performs a certain role is the most qualified -People are motivated to achieve by offering high rewards for higher achievements -Certain amount of poverty has positive functions for dominant groups -Stupid jobs (athlete) are highly paid, and important jobs (child care worker) are not -Accepts poverty as unavoidable and ignores the role of inheritance in the distribution of rewards Conflict perspective: work in the Marxist framework and think that economic inequality comes from domination over the proletariat (working class; have no means of production on their own, so they are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live) by the bourgeoisie (owners) -Owners get wealth as they profit from the labour of the workers, who earn wages that are very low àSurplus value: difference in the amount people will pay for a service or consumer good compared to the cost of its production (produces the profit from exploited labour) -People continue to be exploited instead of looking at their own needs àWealthfare: governmental policies and regulations that economically favor the wealthy -Special subsidies and tax breaks to corporations àCorporate welfare: laws and policies that favor corporations, such as low interest government loans to failing businesses and special subsidies and tax breaks to corporations -Lower wages lead to decreased consumer spending, which leads to more industries closing plants, and downsizing -This means higher unemployment rates, and a surplus of workers pushing employers to lower wages even more Symbolic Interactionist Perspective: focuses on how meanings and labels affect and are affected by social life -People who are viewed as poor are often stigmatized as lazy and irresponsible -“Poor but honest”: suggests that we view honesty and low income as an unlikely combination and must single out those who are poor and honest as exceptions of the rules -Focuses on the meaning of being poor: experience of poverty involves psyh dimensions, like powerlessness, and shame -Meanings and definitions care across time and societies EX: The Dinka is among the poorest people in a modernized place -Wealth is measured based on how many cattle a person owns -“Bridewealth”= 50 cows to the family of his bride àCulture of poverty: the set of norms, values and beliefs and self-concepts that contribute to the persistence of poverty among the underclass -Characterized by female centered households -Gratification in the present rather than in the future -Lack of participation in society’s major institutions àUnderclass: people living in persistent poverty -Experiences joblessness, welfare dependency, involvement in crime and dysfunctional families Feminist perspective: being with the observation that poverty is a gendered phenomenon -Poverty affects women more often then men àGender based analysis: feminist policy analysts hold gender to by a key feature for understanding vulnerability to poverty and to the differential effects of poverty (the children one would be parenting) -Understands the structures that contribute to women’s poverty, and looks to understand why àNarrative analysis: combining a feminist focus on women’s experiences with a symbolic approach to data interpretation -Help shed light on the routes to poverty for women, making the point that disability and illness can be powerful forces that move women from being working poor, to impoverished as they lose their jobs, kids and maybe homes Queer Theory perspective: sexuality is an important variable influencing economic and other measures of social well being -When a government service separates issues of social connection from issues of economic well being, they miss the intersections of sexuality with the experience of well being -Transgender and lesbians may have a harder time finding and securing employment and housing Wealth, economic inequality, and poverty in Canada àWealth in Canada: wealth is the total assets of a person or household, minus liabilities (mortgages, loans etc) -Includes the value of a home, investment real estate, cars, life insurance, etc -Canada is an increasingly polarized country, with the top 20% of families gaining a lot of wealth àEconomic inequality: 3 decades after WWII were a time of unprecedented economic prosperity -1950/60s: unemployment and inflation were low; steady increase in person incomes financed the growth of many things -1970s: increase in both consumer prices and unemployment levels, and a stop in the growth of real income -Income inequality in Canada has been picking up speed in the past decade -Gap between richest and poorest families increased after 1955 when the federal government made drastic cuts in social program spending and the cuts hit the poorest families the hardest àAge and Poverty: Canada has little success in reducing child poverty -1989-15.2% -1996-21.6% -1999-18.7% -1993-98: children under 6 were the most likely of all age groups to have lived in poverty for all 6 years -Some measures of poverty (MBM) do not include costs associated with child-care in their assessment of what families require to live (child-care is a necessity for working parents with young kids) -Improvement in poverty among seniors -Poverty among senior couples is low; unattached seniors experience high poverty àEducation and Poverty: the higher a person’s level of educational attainment, the less likely that person is to be poor -If the principal income earner has at least a university degree the poverty rate was only 6% (in Canada) -Single parent mothers with less then a high school diploma had a poverty rate of 82.3% àGender and poverty: “feminization of poverty”: women are more likely then men to live in poverty -Less likely then men to pursue advanced educational careers -Also more heavily concentrated in a narrower range of jobs àFamily structure and poverty: much more prevalent among female headed single parent households than among other types of family structures -This relationship helps to explain why women and kids have higher poverty rates then men -1999: single mother families were the only family type with a majority of its members still living below the poverty line àDisability and poverty: strong indicator of poverty -Single people with a disability receiving social assistance have benefits equal to only 41-53% of the LICO for their region -Significant differences between disabled men and women (especially women with full time, full year employment) -Big proportion of disabled people do not participate in the labour force at all -Employment discontinuities are common due to the cyclical nature of some disabilities and a tendency for those with disabilities to be the “last hired and the first fired” -Disabled people need medication and transportation; so if their employment income doesn’t cover this, then they cannot afford to work -Likely to live as single parents àRace/ethnicity and poverty: low income is high among visible minorities in Canada and especially among Aboriginal people (live 3.5x more likely in homes that need repair, and with overcrowding) -Palameta: looked at info regarding immigrants: -Those with un
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