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Poverty and Sociology

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Poverty and Sociology

Poverty: a problem that affects us all, affecting more worldwide than Aids, lowering education, health, and housing standards. All of this is can be seen a few blocks down from our own houses. It is even seen in touristy vacation destinations such as Santa Cruz, having 27,000+ residents living below the federal poverty. While this may seem unusual, poverty is a huge social problem that sociologists seek to study and explain through a series of different theories or viewpoints.

Our first perspective is conflict and the way it views chaos in the world. Through a conflict theory we are able to look at the inequality and dominance present in everyday life. When looking at a story in this matter we are able to see problems in the structural process that inhibit poverty among our society. One could say how, wealthy individuals and nations are able to capitalize off of global poverty. The capitalist market is later looked upon to assist poor countries in becoming more developed.

Looking with a conflict viewpoint we are easily able to find the indifferences in the world that cause problems. When discussing economic reform, Ehrenreich and Piven discuss the troubles of accessing welfare. Under the current system it is almost impossible for families to receive benefits from the government. The authors point out how "The sheer hassle of reformed welfare is enough to discourage many people from even applying."(p.165) Their conflict helps show the division of the world, but we could always flip it around to see the functionality of the world.

The world survives as a functioning organism with gigantic system of interrelated parts. Through a functionalist point of view we are able to connect the dots and see how the giant puzzle of life fits together. With poverty one might examine the benefits of low-wage workers in capitalist market. Having a reserve amount of unemployed allows the wage rates to stay low, by lingering the threat of your job being lost. Without this, our expansion would be hindered and more economic disparity might occur. The functionalist viewpoint allows us to see a beneficial side to another's suffering, at least in this case.

In Wilson's essay we are shown the ghetto-related behavior that has been institutionally placed into our society. Poverty in this case, reduces the chances that one has in life and the quality of life around them. Wilson states that, "Neighborhoods that offer few legitimate employment opportunities, inadequate job information networks, and poor schools lead to the disappearance of work."(p.146) Many problems stem directly from drastic poverty rates in inner cities. The lack of jobs separates local residents from the labor market, creating a distance between employment and them, except for the few who fight the odds.

After observing



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