Poverty as Structure

Poverty is often thought of as the personal failings of an individual, however economic evidence has shown that is rather the failure of the economic and social systems that hold society together. Poverty as structure can be thought of as placing someone in a low income hole, they might not be in the same hole the following year but the first one does not go away (Two Theories of Poverty). It is the failure of the school system that causes the large of dropouts in areas known to be afflicted by poverty; in 2009, a study showed that students in the bottom 20% were five times more likely to dropout out of high school than those in the top 20% (Poverty and high school dropouts). The schooling system has failed these students because of the lack of funding put into both the school and its neighborhoods. How can students concentrate in an environment where there is rampant crime and violence simply due to the fact that the system has failed the community. Without a proper education, those from these areas can never obtain a livable wage and thus exist below the federal poverty line (or even the self-sufficiency standard). It is the failings of the system that creates an economic situation where the salaries of the CEO and the average worker are taxed at the same rate; is it fair for someone who makes 11 times someone else to be taxed at the same rate? These two examples help to show that Poverty as a structure is the direct result of socioeconomic systems that oppress people through means of capitalism, racism and discrimination. The way systems are set up by the government plays a major role in the determination of who is in poverty and who is not, the selection is much more deliberate than the average person thinks. To finish on the hole analogy, it is the best interest of the government to reduce the amount of low-income holes.

For further reading:

Poverty as structure

Glossary, UD: Theorizing poverty and the American Dream,

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