Explanations of poverty

also known as existence and persistence of poverty

structural vs cultural

this could come up in the 2014 exam as a 24 mark question

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Explaining the Existence and Persistence
of Poverty
Structural ­ Marxist
Political and economic systems are designed to benefit the ruling class, who in turn will then
manipulate the working class
Poverty is the fault of the economic or political system
Some groups in society are more likely to lose out in the labour market ­ The pay levels for
those at the bottom are so low that they are condemned to poverty.
Specific groups, such as retired people, have missed out on the general growth in the standard
of living. The state has failed to give them adequate benefits and they have been denied their
rights to an acceptable standard of living
Poverty is inevitable in capitalist state
Proletariat are exploited, and are poor and that they don't question their low payment
People are unaware of the inequality
The wealth of the ruling class is created from paying the lowest possible wages to people
The poor act as a warning to the rest of the workforce of what could happen to them if they
didn't work hard
Poor people provide a `starting point' against which other workers can measure their own
Not all proletariat are poor or stay poor e.g. Lord Sugar and Footballers
Marxists are looking more at inequality rather than poverty
Assumes poverty will disappear under a Communist Stare but in many communist states poverty
is still an issue
Ignores Government policies that are introduced to help low paid individuals e.g. tax credit,
national minimum wage
Cultural ­ New Right
Poverty is the fault of the individual or group
Some people are lazy or less able - with effort they could escape from poverty
Some groups have developed a set of values that trap them in poverty ­ the members of the
group or subculture believe there is no chance to escape from their situation ­ this brings about
the a self-fulfilling prophecy
A significant proportion of poorer people have developed a lifestyle based on not working
Murray ­ The underclass
Characteristics ­ lazy, sexually promiscuous, high rate of illegitimate children, children poorly
behaved, high rate of lone mothers, high levels of petty crime.

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Impact on society ­ concentrated in large housing developments with multiple social problems,
welfare burden, weakened family, high crime levels, educational failures and school disruption
Relationship to the class structure ­ self-reproducing, high rates of unemployment, engage in
`work' in the `informal economy'
Crime ­ Murray points out that a very high proportion of violent and property crime is carried out
by a small proportion of the population
Illegitimacy ­ There are very high levels of children born outside marriage.…read more


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