4 From the functionalist perspective poverty exists to discourage people from

4 from the functionalist perspective poverty exists

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4. From the functionalist perspective, poverty exists to discourage people from neglecting their social duties. If people do not contribute to society, they are “punished” by receiving little in terms or wealth, statues, or other rewards. In addition, poverty exists because performs some positive functions for society. 5. From the conflict perspective, poverty exists because some groups are deprived of the opportunity to accumulate the resources that would make possible a minimally acceptable lifestyle. 6. According to the interactionist perspective, living in poverty can lead to the poor to define situations or interpret reality in ways that make it more difficult for them to improve their circumstances. A part of this is called the culture of poverty, but this should not be interpreted as a “blame the victim” argument. 7. One approach to reducing poverty is to strive for full employment. How to achieve this, or whether it can be achieved, remains controversial. 8. Another approach is to provide the education and training that will prepare the poor to find and keep jobs. Head Start seems to have been fairly successful at this. Other jobs programs, however, have been mixed success. 9. To assist the poor, a variety of income-maintenance programs has been made available. The two general types are social insurance and
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public assistance. There is considerable debate over whether welfare is beneficial or detrimental to people and society. 10. Some have argued that only the effective way for the poor to get programs that truly benefit them is through collective action. Key Terms Absolute definition of poverty – A definition of poverty based on a fixed economic level below which people are considered poor; this level does not necessarily change as society on the whole becomes more or less affluent. Cultural analysis of poverty – A focus on the values, attitudes, and psychological orientations that may emerge among groups of people who live under conditions of poverty. Cultural definition of poverty – A definition of poverty views it not only in terms of how many resources people have but also in terms of why they have failed to achieve a higher economic level. Full employment – A situation in which everyone or nearly everyone who wants to work can find a job. Poverty – The uneven distribution of the resources available. Public assistance Relative definition of poverty – The definition of poverty based on the idea that people are poor relative to some standard, and that standard is partially shaped by the lifestyles of other citizens. Social insurance – Social programs offering benefits to broad categories of people, such as the elderly or injured workers, who presumable were working and paying for the insurance before becoming eligible for it. Social mobility – The movement of people from one social position to another in the stratification hierarchy. Social stratification – The ranking of people into a hierarchy in which the resources considered valuable by society are unequally distributed. Structural unemployment – A predictable condition of unemployment resulting from changes in the occupational structure of society.
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