How is poverty defined in sociology?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In sociological terms, poverty is defined as a standard of living that is lower than what a given society thinks is adequate for meeting basic needs.  This means that poverty is not something that we can measure in absolute terms.  Instead, it has to be measured against what is normal for a given society.  For example, in many places in the world, a person who has no car, no computer, who lives with 8 other people in a small house and can only afford to eat meat once a week might not be considered impoverished.  However, in the United States, such a person would likely be seen in that way because we expect that everyone will be able to have better conditions than that.  Poverty, then, is the condition of having less than what is deemed adequate in your society.

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