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Social Science Explanation of Poverty - Essay Example

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Social sciences have studied the phenomenon of poverty with a growing emphasis on the socio-cultural aspect but without a consistent and universally-acceptable set of theories on an issue that affects the society as a whole as well as the individual and more importantly hampers a synergistic action.
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Social Science Explanation of Poverty
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Social Science Explanation of Poverty

Download file to see previous pages... The units used can be the individual, the family unit, or differentially-defined family units. The poverty line can be drawn using absolute, relative, subjective or normative criteria. (p. 268)
However, there is a vast gap between the understanding of the poverty concept in the literature. For instance, right-wing scholars would argue that people are poor because of a breakdown of "traditional values," lack of birth control etc and that it's their own fault. On the other hand those leaning towards the left would argue that poverty is caused by the class structure which permits the bourgeoisie to exploit the poor since it is in their interest that the poor, who produce and generate profit for them, remain poor. They would also argue that the state policy entwined in international relations is the major cause of wide spread poverty. Every government in the world has an elaborate poverty eradication plan, but their inaction caused by innate resistance by the bourgeoisie results in a persistent level of poverty. Ronald Reagan once said: "we waged a war against poverty, and poverty won."
One may argue that the reason why social scientists do not agree on a universal definition of poverty is that they have never felt the "face-grinding, belly-gripping" agony of poverty themselves. And because social scientists do not seem to agree on a singular, universal concept of poverty, it is not surprising that the action against poverty lacks political will and is half-hearted and inconsistent at best. One needs to understand that poverty is not a simple or a limited phenomenon, but rather a persistent and a growing issue that has affected both the individual and the society since ancient times. Indeed, what academics, campaigners and politicians seem concerned about is describing poverty and not how to create a framework through which the research is prescriptive. This is not to suggest, however, that there is no need for the definition or statistical measurement of poverty. Alcock (1993) notes thus: "many people, including academics, campaigners and politicians talk about the problem of poverty, and underlying their discussion is the assumption that identifying the problem of poverty provides a basis for action upon which all will agree."


As an academic discipline social sciences transformed into an increasingly scientific discipline with the development of mathematical proof in the time of Thomas Hobbes who argued that deductive reasoning from axioms created a scientific framework and Isaac Newton who changed the basic framework by revolutionizing what was then called "natural philosophy" thus introducing a new understanding which was "scientific" in nature.
Henceforth, one observes an accelerating trend towards using mathematical examples as models for social issues leading up to outright algorithmic computation and use of statistical data simply because numbers could be interpreted more quickly than text. The mathematical examples came to be known as "laws" for instance Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels who were one of the early thinkers to introduce scientific method in explaining history when they wrote Das Kapital in 1885. Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection and an implied notion of racial/genetic inheritance seem to push biology ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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