Poverty Dynamics

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School
Uni. Bradford **We aren't endorsed by this school
Course
SOCIAL SCI OIM7507
Subject
Sociology
Date
Sep 11, 2023
Pages
14
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Introduction Much academic and empirical work has gone into understanding social change. Throughout history, social theorists have seldom addressed poverty, but their ideas on the economic and societal structure give crucial thoughts for understanding poverty. In the Victorian Britain, for example, the social philosophers Marx and Engels painted the conspicuous distinction amongst the poor but yet employed classes who have nothing but their human potential to sell, and the capitalist classes who, by owning the means of production, could benefit from these capacities. Another article written around the turn of the century by sociologist Max Weber underlined the significance of power, status, and reputation in sustaining controlling relationships, in addition to economic issues. Emile Durkheim, on the other hand, underlined the functional importance of social difference for societal comfort. Echoes of these early theoretical conceptions may be found in sociological theory to varied degrees all the way up to the present day. As a result, this article assessed the components of continuity and change in how poverty has been defined, studied, and explained from around 1880 to the present. Poverty in Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain Early in the twentieth century, the first convincing sign that something had happened to halt the upward march of Victorian and Edwardian prosperity arose. During this period, the poor were sometimes forced to live in unclean, cramped conditions. Victorian and Edwardian attitudes regarding the impoverished were complicated. Some believed that the poor deserved their conditions, either through laziness or because they were unworthy of wealth. However, other people felt it was dictated by personal circumstances (Walker & Bantebya-Kyomuhendo, 2014). Poverty during these times was defined by fewer comforts, a lack of access to healthy food, living in damp and dirty circumstances, and dying from illnesses (Barrow, 2013). This is due to a multitude of factors, including low wages, city expansion (and general population growth), and a lack of consistent labour (Fox, 2020). In the years after the trade cycle peak of 1899, contemporary assessments of money earnings and prices suggested a halting or slight drop in real wages (Feinstein, 1990). This drop in real wages helps to explain the widespread industrial unrest that afflicted a 1
wide range of major corporations in the decade or two preceding World War I (Gazeley & Newell, 2011). The highly reported findings of pioneer social investigators' poverty investigations fuelled these anxieties, as well as the finding that a large number of soldiers who enrolled for the army during the South African War (1899-1902) were rejected as unfit to serve (Bourke, 1996). Hence, In 1904 the government organised an inter-departmental committee on physical degeneration to investigate the health and physique of working-class people, and the report was delivered, declaring that no cases of physical deterioration existed, but diet and cleanliness did (Dyhouse, 1976). This is evident that poverty in the Victorian and Edwardian eras was all about physical health, nutrition and hygiene. Many further studies verified this, including the work of two positivists, Seebohm Rowntree's York inquiry of 1899-1900, and Charles Booth's London investigation of 1886-1889, albeit the methodology utilized by both researchers differed. Charles Booth analysed poverty in terms of class and position rather than money. He did not endavour to provide any definition or provide any estimate of sustenance income levels based on essential needs; his "poverty line" was used as an indicator of poverty rather than a definition of poverty. His purpose was to identify several sorts of poverty and define these circumstances in various ways. Booth's poverty maps focused qualitative variables such as food, clothing, housing, and relative deprivation based on observations of lifestyle differences (Fearon, 2002). The booths' poverty maps attempted to illustrate that poverty was a controllable issue (Kimball, 2006). In contrast, Seebohm Rowntree defined poverty in terms of money. "Absolute poverty," or "merely physical efficiency," he characterized as follows: "A family living on the estimated scale must never spend a dime on railway or omnibus fare" (Lewis, 2009). They had to trek to the countryside all the time. They are not permitted to purchase a halfpenny newspaper or a penny ticket to a popular play (Lewis, 2009). He analysed wealthy New York homes and devised a poverty line based on a weekly amount of money "required to allow families... to secure the necessities of a healthy living" (Coates & Silburn, 1970), such as fuel and lighting, rent, food, clothing, shelter, and personal things, all of which are adjusted for family size. Hence, Booth and Rowntree acknowledged 2
sickness, unemployment, and old age as the key causes of poverty and found that the very young and elderly were the most vulnerable to poverty. Bowley investigated poverty among working-class homes in 1912-1913 and again in 1923-1924, lending support to Rowntree's research. He changed Rowntree's 1899 poverty line and so treated children less generously, but he also allowed them to eat a bit better. Despite the lack of uniformity in how poverty was evaluated, Booth classified people depending on their source of income, for example, Rowntree, on the other hand, distinguished between classes and specially defined groups based on economic links (Spicker, 1990), it may be deduced that the experts' perspectives on causes of poverty are very similar. For example, Bowley characterised the key causes of poverty as low pay relative to family size, family breadwinner's death, sickness, and old age (Bowley & Burnett-Hurst, 1915). Rowntree's research indicated that low incomes were the primary cause of poverty in the majority of the houses he classified as being in main poverty, family size wage earner's death, sickness or old age of a wage earner, and irregular or unemployed (Rowntree, 1902). Indeed, Rowntree's findings demonstrated that family income changed continuously with life stage, with poverty more common in infancy, early middle life when children were present, and again in old age (Rowntree & Lasker, 1911). Rowntree's poverty life-cycle stages include involuntary unemployment, and Rowntree and Lasker's unemployment studies in York in 1908, a recession year, established unemployment as a key source of primary poverty (Rowntree & Lasker, 1911). Booth's and Rowntree's early twentieth-century efforts aided in the passage of the Old Age Pensions Act and the Free School Meal Act for the poorest children (Bradshaw, 2000). The Old Age Pensions Act is a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Act of Parliament established in 1908 to provide a non-contributory old age pension for those over the age of seventy, with the expense paid by taxpayers in general. It was passed in 1908 and was supposed to give a weekly pension of 5s (6d for married couples) beginning on January 1, 1909 (Robert, 2018). 3
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