Why Is It so Difficult to Define Poverty

1766 Words8 Pages
Social Welfare Theory and Methodology
Why is so difficult to define poverty

In general, the term poverty refers to a social and economic condition which is undesirable for any individual or group in society. This essay will discuss different approaches used to define poverty. First is absolute poverty, this approach looks at the lack of income in order to satisfy the essential requirement for physiological survival. It then goes on to discuss the relative approach which is lack of income in order to reach the average standard of living in society in which one live. This essay also addresses the consensual approach this is based on the lack of socially perceived necessities, it also incorporate an income measure to the extent that it
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It is necessary to discuss poverty in terms of life styles, although it is not sufficient to see poverty as lack of material possessions and facilities necessary for material well-being. Poverty also exists where members of society are excluded from the life style in the community to which they belong. Peter Townsend, pioneer of modern poverty research, devised a scale to determine the minimum necessities for maintenance of merely physical efficiency. Those whose income falls well below this minimum level were said to be in poverty. Anyone with an income of less than a certain amount a week would be considered impoverished and consuming goods less than a monetary value would also be classed as being poor. To view poverty primarily in material and most often monetary terms is un-measurable, because poverty is not just a lack of material goods; it is also a matter of social relationship in the way the poor are treated by those around them. Often those are other in position of authority and power in their dealings with the poor; they may treat the poor with sympathy, with condescension, with difference, with suspicion, or with hostility. To be poor is usually to have little or no
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