Sociology: Poverty and Stratification

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Living with a poverty level income is a difficulty facing many people around the world; poverty is a cultural universal, or trait found in every known culture – not an expression of individual differences. The most basic explanation for this is the trend towards social stratification, the system by which society organizes itself into a hierarchy. In some cultures this is manifest in the form of a caste system in which people who are in poverty have little to no chance of escaping it. In the United States the system is more in the form of a class system in which there is at least some degree of social mobility, and less status consistency allows people in poverty to have the possibility of changing their social status, but rarely the…show more content…
In most cases U.S. citizens who are in poverty are in relative poverty in relation to the rest of the U.S. population; whereas in the world as a whole a greater number of people are in absolute poverty and are barely able to survive on their income, or wages and earnings, and they have very little to no wealth since it is impossible to save any of their money. Ethnocentrism makes it difficult to obtain a clear picture of the conditions of poverty and inequality in other nations and cultures. There are many theories concerning the causes and solution for poverty in the global economy. The two major theories are the modernization theory which explains inequality in terms of technological and cultural difference between nations, and the dependency theory which explains poverty in terms of the historical exploitation of poor, or low-income, nations by rich, or high-income, nations. This theory has manifest itself in a new way in today’s world in the form of neocolonialism; economic exploitation by multinational corporations. Race and ethnicity is key factor to poverty in the U.S. since an African-American is three times more likely to be in poverty than a non-Hispanic white. People with different ethnic backgrounds may experience alienation, or discrimination as a result of their differences with the people around them. Blaming the victim is a common explanation for poverty, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny since there are countless factors
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