Introduction Poverty is when someone is not able to afford to buy things most people consider essential or to participate in activities which, similarly are thought to be a minimum requirement of everyday life (Reporting poverty in UK p15). Absolute poverty is a term used in various different ways to denote a poverty level that does not change over time in terms of living standards that it refers to it stays the same even if society is becoming more prosperous.
Absolute poverty line and people below this line lack food, shelter, warmth or clothing (Reporting poverty in the UK p73). Most people in the UK live in relevant poverty Peter Townsend a leading authority on UK poverty defines it as when someone’s “resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average individual or family that they are in effect excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities” (Reporting poverty in the UK p 15).
There are two main ways to measure social inequality these are inequality of conditions, and inequality of opportunities. Inequality of conditions refers to the unequal distribution of income, wealth and material goods housing for example is an inequality of conditions with the homeless and those living in housing projects sitting at the bottom of the hierarchy while those living in multimillion dollar mansions sitting at the top.
They have been a number of studies commissioned by shelters on the relationship between homeless, use of temporary accommodation and poor health the findings include 78%of homeless households living in temporary accommodation interviewed in one studies had at least one specific health problem, 58% of households said their health had been adversely affected by living in temporary accommodation, 50% of children in temporary accommodation reported psychological and mood disturbance, unsettled sleep pattern, bed wetting and mood swings, one year after being rehoused 40% of homeless children surveyed in one study were still suffering mental and development problems (settled housing march 2010), (various studies, referenced in homelessness fact sheet, shelter 2007).
Inequality of opportunities refers to the unequal distribution of life chances across individuals, this is reflected in measures such as levels of education, health status, and the treatment by the criminal justice system for example white upper class males typically have more opportunities for wealth and success compared to lower class black males who have a higher chance of landing in the criminal justice system. Racial inequality since 1973 little has changed particularly in the earning gap between white and black males, the gender gap has declined since 1970 and the racial gap has remained stable and also the pattern of unemployment, black males earn 60% of what white males earn and they suffer unemployment rates of double the white figure (Hogan and Perrucci 2007); (Kerbo 2009,p. 349).
Featherman and Hauser (1978) reproduced the racial difference in inheritance of occupation in the original Blau and Duncan (1967) data from 1962 and in their 1973 replication in 1962 only 13. 3% of black sons of upper non-manual fathers achieved upper non-manual status this increased to 43. 9% in 1973. Among white males 57% in 1962 and 59% in 1973 inherited upper non-manual occupational (Kerbo, 2009, p. 391-400). Functionalist theories believe that inequality is inevitable and desirable and plays an important function in society. Important positions in society require more training and should receive more rewards, social inequality and social stratification according to this view leads to a meritocracy based ability, Functionalist approach to poverty maintains that all parts of society even poverty contributes in some way or another to the larger system’s stability (understanding social problems p195).
Conflict theories view inequality as resulting from groups, they believe that social inequality prevents and hinders societal progress as those in power repress the powerless people in order to maintain the status quo, positions are important so long as those in power consider them to be significant, conflict theory of poverty argues that stratification is dysfunctional and harmful to society but persists because it benefits the rich and powerful, (Understanding social problems p195). Over the past eleven years 702,000 older people have had to sell their homes or cut into their life savings to pay for the cost of their care, in 2006 people over 65 contributed ?
380m to the support they receive to stay in their own homes, 75,000 pensioners are paying for nursing care which could be provided free under the NHS. Women pensioners are the majority of people depending on home-care. Thousands of pensioners go without food and heating to pay the cost of home care service and thousands give up the care they need because they cannot afford it (fact complied by women in Dialogue, crossroads women’s center 30th may 2009). Many pensioners have low incomes so they become isolated because they cannot afford to do anything and many go without food to pay for heating most of them are lonely and as a result of their situation most die from health problem that is caused by their situation (Bristol. ac. UK 2006).