Assessment of the Usefulness of Individualistic Theories of the Causes of Poverty

Assessment of the Usefulness of Individualistic Theories of the Causes of Poverty

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Assessment of the Usefulness of Individualistic Theories of the Causes of Poverty


An individualistic (cultural) perspective suggests that poverty comes
as a result of behaviour and lifestyle more likely to result in
poverty. This perspective is often referred to as ‘victim-blaming’.
They are said to be ‘work shy’, preferring instead to live on state
welfare benefits. This explanation of poverty argues that the poor'
subculture may be so pervasive that these deviant attitudes are
reproduced from one generation to another by parents who act as
‘deviant role-models’ to their children. In this way the poor are said
to be a part of a subculture, which is somewhat antagonistic to the
mainstream culture of society.

The main groups considered to be leading these impoverished
subcultures are the disabled, women, ethnic groups, elderly, working
class and people from northern regions.

The minority of disabled have: -

-An inability to work which

-Limitations on physical and/or mental abilities.

-Psychology o dependency

Females are: -

-Expected to be homemakers.

-Have a dependency on males for income.

-Fewer role models and women (especially young) with babies are often
the ones who have to support that child.

Ethnic groups: -

-Lead a fatalistic lifestyle with larger families.

-Language difficulties.

-Lower level educational qualifications.

-Controversially associated with lower levels of intelligence.

-Attachment to traditional ways.

-Cultural values may predispose individuals to ‘follow in
father’s/mother’s footsteps.

Elderly groups: -

-Less adaptable.

-Failure to mak...


... middle of paper ...


...oney from benefits
rather than working for similar amounts. He suggests that state
provisions should be given to the needy poor instead of the idle.
Murray (1990) USA and Anderson (1990) UK argue a new underclass is
emerging due to welfare benefits

Individualistic theories (like most of the earliest theories), is
rather simple. Indeed, it may be true that some, possibly the majority
of those in poverty, have apathetical behaviours, but whether it
answers the causes of poverty is questionable. The problem with this
theory is that it does not give reasons for these lifestyles but
rather looks at the direct causes of poverty.

Bibliography:

Sociology folder

Haralambos and Holborn - Sociology Themes and Perspectives

Paul Trowler - Investigating Health Welfare and Poverty

Revision Express - Sociology

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