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AQA AS Sociology-everything I needed to know (Theory and Poverty)

Updated on November 3, 2011

Social Theory

· Davis and Moore – Inequality helps society to function by providing motivation to work hard and to aim to fill the more important in society.

· Bowles and Gintis – Educational institutions provide a hard working, motivated, docile and obedient workforce which is secretly taught to accept authority and inequality; perfect workers for the bourgeoisie.
· Milliand – The state acts in the interest of the ruling class, as it is under the control of elite groups which benefit from capitalism and the private ownership of the means of production by the bourgeoisie.
· Westergaard and Resler – The working class provide a cheap labour supply for the ruling class which keeps profits high. Varying pay levels keep the working class from uniting.

· Ansley – Income and wealth inequality routes from a patriarchal society in which men dominate and therefore have more income than women.

New Right:
· Murray – The poor have become a dependency culture which depends on overgenerous state benefits which influence their rational choice not to work.
· Marsland – The generosity of the “nanny state” has created the dependency culture which now relies on handouts rather than people taking the responsibility to improve their position.

Social Democrats:
· George and Wilidng – The state should provide welfare as it eliminates ant and suffering, leads to greater economic prospects via education, it promotes equality and community spirit and can help people in times of crisis.
· Field – People in poverty are excluded from society as the government do not do enough to help and include them.

· Townsend – People are excluded from or have poor positions within the labour market, which is the main source of income for most, so this is likely to be the biggest cause of people being in poverty.

Third Way:
· Giddens – Some people want to work but the jobs are not available, however others do not want to work, so it is unemployment as well as individuals causing poverty and welfare should not be increased but jobs.

Definitions and Measurements of Poverty

Absolute Poverty:
· Rowntree (1899) – Absolute poverty is being without basic needs such as food, water, shelter and clothing. This method of measuring poverty is now outdated and only applies to the homeless andBritain and is more applicable to third world countries. It also only took into account the biological needs of people.

Relative Poverty:
· Living below a standard which is considered to be acceptable within a particular society.
· Townsend (1979) – A deprivation index was created including 12 things that he believed that to not have would put a person in poverty. This took into account social and biological needs, but it did not allow for choice and was formed from Townsend’s ideas of what placed a person in poverty.
· Mack and Lansley (1983/90) – A survey was taken asking people to suggest necessities for a normal life. A list of 22 necessities was then formed and used to calculate the number of people in poverty by judging that anyone who could not afford 3 of these things was in poverty. This accounted for choice and was an agreed definition of poverty; however the researches still judged what placed a person in poverty.

Social Exclusion:
· Gordon (2000) – People who are unable to participate in work, education, community life and access services are socially excluded. This identifies the wider issues which poverty can lead to, but it is difficult to define and measure.

Households Below Average Income (HBAI):
· Government – People who receive less than 60% of the average income are judged to be in poverty. This is a clear and easy to measure definition which can be used to make comparisons over time, but it only uses income as an indicator which excludes homeless people and ignores other factors such as age or gender. Also some people may be on the line or just above and still be in poverty.


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