Poverty perspectives Drawing on the theoretical perspectives (Functionalist, Conflict, Feminist, or Interactionist), explain how poverty persists in society.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Women are often forced into poverty, because it is more common for a woman to end up with a group of children and no financial support than for the father to end up there. The feminist perspective might point out that a mother can get a minimum wage job to feed her family and spend more than her wages on child care.
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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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#3 said:

They might also be interested in the ways we portray the poor, notably as weak people that need protection and handouts from the strong- in other words, like women have historically been portrayed in patriarchal discourse.

This is an important point in today's political and economic climate. We have lost a certain amount of the drive that comes with personal responsibility; it is far too easy to "give up" and never look for work, or take no steps at all to improve your own situation. Poor? Get on food stamps, assisted housing, disability, SDS, and free cell phone and Internet! Why bother looking for a job when you can get everything from the government! The problem, of course, is that sooner or later the government runs out of money. We should be focusing on finding jobs -- preferably in the private sector -- for people who want to work and improve their own situations.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I agree with post #2 regarding interactionist perspectives- the others might be more useful. Functionalists would, I suppose, take a borderline Marxist perspective on poverty, i.e., that poverty exists, or is as widespread as it is, because it fulfills a necessary role as determined by the power brokers in a society. In other words, poverty exists because it is in someone's interest for it to exist. Similarly, conflict theory would argue that poverty has emerged from class conflict and domination of the lower classes by those who control wealth and power. Feminists could focus on a number of things, including the "femininization of poverty," meaning that women are more likely to become impoverished because of unequal economic opportunity. They might also be interested in the ways we portray the poor, notably as weak people that need protection and handouts from the strong- in other words, like women have historically been portrayed in patriarchal discourse.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Interactionist perspectives have a hard time explaining poverty because they are meant to look more at "micro" level things.  I suppose you could say that this perspective would look at how we define poverty.  It would say that we define poverty as an individual failing and not as a problem of society.   Because we see it in that way, we allow it to persist because we think it's the poor people's problem, not ours.

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