Theories of Poverty – نظريات الفاقة والفقر
Hasan A. Yahya, Ph.ds**
Poverty: defining poverty in quantitative terms is a controversial issue, as it is influenced by political and moral values, as well as by economics. Therefore, poverty can be defined as relative or absolute concept. Relative definition place a certain proportion of any society in the poverty category. Some social scientists consider poverty according to income level which can be described in the one-half of the national median income. Those who are lower than that level, they are considered under the national poverty line.
Absolute definitions of poverty set an income level below which a person or family cannot sustain a minimal nutritional standard of living.
Poverty level is recalculated each year to take into account changes caused by inflation and varies according to the size of families. In 1986, the poverty level was$11,203 for a family of four, and it ranged from $5,572 for a single person to $22,497 for a family of nine or more persons.
1. Blaming the Victim Theory: There is a longstanding belief in America that the poor are to blame for their own misfortune. According to this view, we live in a free country and have equal opportunities to advance our selves through hard work. If someone is poor, it must be due to some personal failing. This view is widely rejected by social scientists simply because poverty is not the fault of the poor, but the result of conditions over which the victims have no real control. (Ryan, 1976),
2. The Culture of Poverty: The idea that there is a culture of poverty- a set of norms and values common to poor people-developed by anthropologist Oscar Lewis in a series of studies of slum dwellers in Mexico and Puerto Rico (1959). Lewis argued that the culture of poverty is characteristic of most urban poor the world over. Such culture develops an adaptive response to continuous deprivation for generations.
3. Structural Explanation of Poverty: In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many social scientists became dissatisfied with explanations of poverty that focused on the personal and cultural qualities of the poor themselves. They began to look instead for structural explanations of poverty. Such explanations attribute conditions of poverty to persistent inequalities in the society, such as the distribution of power, wealth and other resources that, in effect, force some people to remain in poverty. Our ignorance regarding the problems of child abuse and child neglect is, in the year 1968, not quite total, but is severe enough to be inexcusable.
الكاتب أستاذ علم اجتماع سابق بجامعة ولاية ميشيغان **