Introduction to Poverty and Wealth
In many parts of the world, poverty or powerty and wealth is a major issue due to various problems. Because poverty is not a problem to be underestimated there are theories which bring about different reasons and solutions of the problem. Since it is possible to observe poverty even in the richest countries, the main aim of the theories is to investigate the reasons behind the issue. Both social scientists and politicians have consensus about the researches about poverty and they handle the issue with different methodologies. There are basically two theories that explain the causes of poverty and wealth: Individualist poverty theory and structuralist poverty theory.
Individual Poverty Theory
Individual poverty theory supports the idea that poverty should be considered as an individual phenomenon. This means poverty is specific to the person. Ted K. Bradshaw who is a researcher and wrote the research paper called Theories of Poverty and Anti-Poverty Programs in Community Development gives a quote in order to explain the individualistic poverty: “…individualistic theories of poverty as a “moralizing perspective” and notes that the poor are “afflicted with the mark of Cain. They are meant to suffer, indeed must suffer…” (Bradshaw, 2006, s. 6) As this quote states, the individualistic poverty theory claims that people deserve poverty if they sustain their laziness, ignorance and dalliance. In the article called Theories of Poverty: A Comparative Analysis, three researchers used Darwinism and other theorist to explain individualism in concept of poverty by linking other theories. In the article they stated that: “According to Spencer and Sumner, social existence is a competitive experience among individuals who possess different natural abilities and traits (Hurst. 2004). They believe that those with better abilities are capable of being productive to survive while the weak will die off.” (Majid Sameti, 2012, s. 2) So, both quotes claim that people responsible from their own poverty and the level of poverty, under the light of this theory, can only be reduced by helping people who are suffering from poverty. However, this creates such a problem; if wealthy people help poorer the level of laziness and ignorance will not decline instead people will start to think earning money without doing job. That’s why both quotes emphasize a sensitive point that the ones who do not work for money must endure poverty.
Structural Poverty Theory
The second theory for explaining poverty is called structural poverty theory. This theory especially based on economic system of the country. This means, as the income of every households different the hole between rich and poor can be large and if the hole is large poverty appears. In the research article called The Economics of Poverty: Explanatory Theories to Inform Practice, two doctoral students investigated the causes of the poverty and they referred structural poverty in relation with Marx’s capitalism ideas. “With respect to the structural view of the economy, Blank describes how Marx viewed capitalists as those who rent the labor of workers and then aggregate some of the value created by the workers to create additional capital.” (Sun Young Jung, 2006, s. 38) This quotation states that labor surplus and low wages lead to unemployment which causes economic holes and the ones in the holes must struggle with the poverty. In the article called The Causes of Poverty Cultural vs. Structural: Can There Be a Synthesis?, the researcher of the paper Gregory Jordan states that:“Supporters of the “structural” school of thought argue that most poverty can be traced back to structural factors inherent to either the economy and/or…” (Jordan, 2004, s. 5) So, this quote claims that economic holes in a country create unemployment and this leads to poverty. However, unlike individualistic poverty in structural poverty the people who are suffering from poverty can be changed from year to year because these people may find a job or the economic management may be altered and income level of people in the country can be increased. Like relative poverty there the minimum level of wage to meet with requirements (Elesh, 1970)will be bonded to a line however, in individualistic poverty there will be no line, like in the definition of absolute poverty ,and improvement of economy cannot affect individuals as they are responsible from their own income and as the cause is not unemployment or social issues.
Conclusion to Poverty and Wealth
As stated above there are mainly two theories for the explanation of poverty and structural poverty theory is more valid and credible since it surrounds socio-economic problems that leads to poverty. When individual poverty is considered it is a weakness to think that decreasing poverty is possible with helping poor people. Even though the individual poverty theory is successful when the source of the problem is thought, laziness and ignorance brings about poverty, and poverty is a major issue and need to be considered as a whole. So, it is strength for structural poverty theory to handle the social and economic issues together. That’s why it is successful about its solution which is altering the economy.
Bradshaw, T. K. (2006). Theories of Poverty and Anti-Poverty Programs in Community Development. Rural Poverty Research Center.
Elesh, D. (1970). POVERTY THEORIES AND INCOME MAINTENANCE:VALIDITYAND POLICY RELEVANCE. University of Wisconsin, 1-36.
Jordan, G. (2004). The Causes of Poverty Cultural vs. Structural.
Majid Sameti, R. D. (2012). Theories of Poverty: A Comparative Analysis. Kuwait Chapter of Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review.
Sun Young Jung, R. S. (2006). The Economics of Poverty: Explanatory Theories to Inform Practice. Understanding Poverty from Multiple Social Science Perspectives.