What Does It Mean To Be Poor? Why Should We Care About Poverty?

2466 words - 10 pages

INTS100 MAJOR ESSAYWHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE POOR? WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT POVERTY?The notion of what it means to be poor cannot easily be defined and is to some extent subjective. One's definition varies, and as is often dependent on the social, cultural and political experience of the individual or the greater society can be contrastingly diverse. Research shows there appear to be extremes for both poverty and poor. To be poor living in a highly developed industrialized capitalist consumer driven society could mean buying designer brands once a month as opposed to every day or week, whereas to be poor in a developing rural agrarian dependant society, perhaps in drought, has shown predominantly in India, mass suicide as farmers struggles to feed their families and pay off debts. Poverty when broken into categories, 'Extreme poverty', 'Absolute Poverty' or 'Relative poverty' demonstrates these extremes.For the purpose of this essay, Poor will be defined as not having enough money for the basic things that people need to live properly. 'Extreme Poverty' is defined as the very poorest of the poor, or those living on less than $1 a day whereas 'Absolute Poverty' is the absolute number of people below the defined poverty line, currently $1.25 a day. It is important to recognise the effect location has on these poverty lines and that the concept of the poverty line is not always a reliable indicator of poverty. In that respect we also have 'Relative Poverty'; the level of poverty based on the society in question which also reflects the distribution of income. Additionally, regardless of where poor people live, there are at least six dimensions of poverty; hunger, psychological dimensions, inadequate infrastructure, low levels of literacy, health problems, and inadequate income. Mr Micawber, a character from Charles Dickens David Copperfield, has an articulate understanding of poverty. He observes "Income twenty shillings, expenses nineteen shillings and sixpence - result, happiness. Income twenty shillings, expenses twenty shillings and sixpence - result, misery." This observation is memorable because it highlights how such a small difference can have a colossal impact on the result. With this in mind, I would like to address what it means to be poor firstly by looking at Bolivian Coca farmers, solely dependant on cultivating acres of coca, a leaf that is a natural resource for the people of Bolivia but, once out of the village, is processed and sold as cocaine in Europe and North America. Secondly I will look in contrast at impoverishment in the United States of America, arguably the wealthiest country on earth, yet here we also find the highest rates of poverty in the developed world and try to shift from the traditional way of thinking about poverty to illustrate how it affects us all. Finally, one cannot comprehensively and thoroughly investigate poverty or the poor without also examining the widening gap between rich and poor, in developed and...

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