Social Problems And Social Issues
Poverty is referred as the state of being poor, where the individuals are seen to experience lack of finances that hinders their living standard. In this assignment, the chapter related to poverty is discussed by highlighting the social issues related to poverty as informed by the author. The discussion made is informed by arguments and viewpoints provided by the author of the book. Moreover, the strength and weakness related to the chapter are also well-versed.
Context of the Chapter
The context of the chapter informs that, the way social constructs and social exclusion as well as new labour laws has influenced the rise of poverty among the people in the UK. Moreover, the chapter focuses on providing detailed context related to the way poverty has lead to homelessness. The chapter defining poverty fits well into the book as the book is seen to deal with informing social issues in the UK and the rise of poverty has become a key social issue within the country. This is evident that in collecting statistical data in 2010-11, the poverty rate of children in the UK was found to be 27% meaning 3.6 million children are below the poverty level in the UK (Isaacs et al. 2014). This is quite an alarming number that requires key focus because without alleviating poverty, the social issues cannot be mitigated effectively. Moreover, the chapter fits well because it is informed that poor is always existent in the society. Thus, while analysing the social issues in the society without discussing the impact of poverty, a key part of the issue remains unfocussed.
Discussions of questions which this chapter seeks to answer, the way social construction has been applied to poverty, arguments and viewpoints of author and the strength and weakness of the chapter
The chapter initially seeks to answer the way household income has influenced the rise of poverty in the UK. In order to answer the question, the author applied the strategy of assumption of poverty through the help of poverty line. The author provides the viewpoint that, the family whose income is below 60% of the average median income is considered as poverty stricken, because they are below the poverty level. However, the argument provided in respect to this information is that assessment of the quantitative data is not effective enough to provide a detailed picture of the prevalence of poverty in the UK. This is because quantitative data do not inform the way changes in the income gap is occurring that further raises the poverty level. Further, author provides the viewpoint that taking only the quantitative data in not accurate to assume the poverty level because it identifies average level of income of individuals in the country. Thus, the differences in income level between the rich and the poor cannot be identified to assess which individuals are actually below the poverty level.
In case the household income of the whole country falls, then it would artificially remove few of the homes assumed to be the below poverty line even though no changes have been experienced in their income level. This is because reduction in the overall income level of the country in turn also reduces the average income rate, based on which the poverty line is identified by the government for deriving statistics for calculating poverty-stricken households (Cribb et al. 2012). Therefore, on the basis of this information, the author provides the viewpoint that, use of qualitative data is required to identify the actual prevalence of poverty in the UK. This is because; it would lead to identify which individuals are actually below the poverty level so that right evaluation of prevalence of poverty is identified in the UK. The strength of this chapter in this part is that it has initially delineated the standardised measure for evaluating prevalence of poverty level in the UK. The weakness experienced in this case is that the author does not delineate the way qualitative data is to be included in this aspect for determining the level and reason of poverty in the UK effectively.
In the next phase, the chapter answers the question regarding the way social construct has identified poverty. The social construct refers to the assumption, perceptions and normative judgement, put up by the society. According to the social construct, the author has informed that, poverty is experienced because the society thinks that poor people are lazy, happy to avail support from the government and are work-shy and welfare dependents. However, author has provided argument to this statement by mentioning criticism by O’Hara (2014). There is mentioned that, poor people are actually hard working but face poverty because they are not appropriately paid for the quantity of work done by them. Thus, on the basis of this information, the author provides the viewpoint that, since poor people are unable to earn effective amount of finances for resolving their basic needs, they remain poor. Thus, lack of efficiency to avail the basic livelihood makes individuals to remain below poverty level. Moreover, the author has provided other argument, where the person has shown the views of other authors. There, it is informed how slowly the income of poor people has risen over the time compared to the rich that have raised the issue of poverty.
The author has put his arguments with supporting evidences from Tonybee (2003) where it is informed that the poor people work harder in tougher conditions compared to others. Thus, it contradicts the statement that poor people are lazy according to the concept of social construct. In response to the negative view of the social construct regarding poverty, according to the author’s viewpoint such a perception is built because the society thinks that people have sole control over their lives and destiny. Thus, the life of being poor is not influenced by the individual’s family background or circumstances. This thought has actually developed as mentioned by the author because of instances of celebrities in society, who irrespective of their deteriorated family background have overcome their poverty and have achieved success in life. However, the author thought accepts the fact but cannot agree to the information that poor are poor because they are shy to work because there are instances where the rich have benefited by letting the poor suffer. The weakness in this aspect is that the author has not informed the way the negative social constructs regarding poverty can be resolved. The strength includes that the author has been able to provide realistic viewpoints and counterarguments to prove the facts as informed by him.
The other question which is answered in this chapter is that the way social exclusion has influenced poverty. In respect to this question, the author has provided the viewpoint that poverty rises due to the influence of social as well as cultural factors apart from the differences in income level. The statement put by the author is also supported by the findings provided by Murray (1990) who acknowledged that, apart from genetic and intelligence factors the social and culturally factors are also responsible for increasing the issue of poverty. However, the author has argued that, Murray do not takes into consideration the influence of social inequalities on poverty. Thus, this means that discrimination in respect to caste, class, race and others leading to poverty of individuals remained unfocused in the previous studies of Murray in turn not properly defining the causes related to poverty. However, the author to prove his argument has provided the viewpoint that social groups who are associated with social exclusion are those who are socially discriminated by the individuals in the society. The author has also mentioned that, the groups which are facing poverty are not only facing the situation due to social exclusion in relative terms but also the individuals require to overcome many other obstacles. The strength lies, in this case, is that the author has informed an effective strategy that is adopted by the government to resolve social exclusion which is New Labour.
The New Labour as informed by the National Audit Office report (2002) is the initiative taken by the government to provide job opportunity to the unemployed people who are socially excluded due to social inequality to resolve poverty. According to the author, the New Labour developed by the government has the concept that, it is better to have any job rather than having none. However, on evaluation of the New Labour for assessing its progress, it is seen that after its initial success the New Labour did not progress. This is because the youth, involved with it, saw the opportunity as dead-end. According to the author’s viewpoint, young individuals though being poor have the passion to work hard to develop an effective future where they are never going to face poverty. Since, the New Labour opportunities did not provide scope to the poor individuals to achieve such success and only acts to minimise their poverty level therefore it never made the progress. The strength lies in this argument is that, the author has effectively derived information regarding how the support from the government can actually resolve poverty. However, the weakness is that, the author did not explain what aspects of social exclusion or forms of discrimination those are influencing poverty.
The above discussion reports that the household income influences poverty because those earning low are seen to be poor. The poverty is also seen to be influenced by social exclusion because people who are discriminated and excluded from the society are seen to be unable to attain proper benefits for improving their living standard. The New Labour though was framed but it failed to reduce poverty because it did not provide effective end-results for the poor people towards their upliftment.
- Cribb, J., Joyce, R., and Philip, D., Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in the UK, IFS Commeritary C124, London: Institute of Fiscal Studies, 2012
- O’Hara, K., Austerity Bites: A Journey to the sharp end of cuts in Britain, Bristol, Policy Press, 2014.
- Murray, C., The Emerging British Underclass, London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1990.
- Tonybee, O., Hard Work, London: Bloomsbury, 2003.
- The New Deal for Young People, The New Deal for Young People, National Audit Office report, HC 639, 28 February 2002.