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Evaluating The View That Poverty Is Caused By Economic Inequality Rather Than Cultural Attitudes And Lifestyles

2000 words - 8 pages

Evaluating the View that Poverty is Caused by Economic Inequality Rather than Cultural Attitudes and Lifestyles

There is much debate in sociology that poverty is caused by structural
factors such as economic inequality and those who state that it is
caused by cultural factors such as attitudes, values and lifestyles.
The first group say that the poor are made to be poor by the economic
and political systems, they state that the poor are prevented from
achieving a good standard of living by the actions of the more
powerful in society and that those with the least power are poor. In
contrast, the second group say that the poor cause their own poverty
and that this poverty is a result of some individual or cultural
deficiency. They argue that some of the underclass do not want to work
and that the welfare state actually makes people dependent on it. They
also state that the fatalistic nature of the poor prevents them from
breaking out of this situation.

There are many theories regarding the structural factors such as
economic inequality. Sociologists state that in all society the least
powerful groups are the most likely to lose out economically and
socially and they will therefore make up the majority of the poor.
This is a Weberian approach and Peter Townsend stated that poverty is
part of the class inequality created by the labour market in
capitalist economies. He argued that most of the groups in poverty are
either excluded from the labour market (for example, the elderly,
unemployed and long-term sick) or are in a weak position in the labour
market, (for example, unskilled, ethnic minorities, and females).
Townsend stated that poverty is closely related to class and that the
poor usually work in unskilled jobs and groups like women or blacks
have big disadvantages in the labour market, they are excluded from
job opportunities which are open to others and therefore form an
underclass. He said that poverty will only be tackled effectively by
radical state policies which redistribute resources from rich to poor
and by investment of state money in education. Townsend stated that
state intervention it is argued can change the system of social
inequality. His Weberian view sees a number of powerful groups who
gain rewards at the expense of others and he argued that the state can
alter this as an independent force. However, Townsend is often
criticised by the Marxists as they argue that the state is an
"instrument of capitalists" and will therefore only represent their
interests.

Marxists argue that poverty is caused deliberately by the economic
system and that money is the motivation for work. They state that the
unequal monetary rewards motivate workers to compete for higher wages
and that capitalism requires highly motivated workers. One
sociologist, Jack Kincaid stated that...

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