Applying Sociological theories to poverty

Applying Sociological theories to poverty

Conflict, symbolic and functional theory are among the many influential and essential approaches in sociology. The theories can also be applied to sociological problems such as poverty. Firstly, Functional or structural theory states that some people are poor because they are in a capacity to acquire the knowledge and skills required for high-paying jobs. Ultimately, such people are forced to do the work they do not want or buy goods others dislike, such as old bread (Nassehi, 2019). Secondly, the symbolic theory holds that humans (individually and in groups) construct, communicate, and modify symbols with meaningful, mutually agreed upon the meaning ( Addae-Korankye, 2019 ).

The symbols include language symbols, modes of dress, images, and gestures. Concerning poverty, the theory states that poor and wealthy people interpret symbols differently, which brings the distinction between the two groups. For example, when poor individuals visit an expensive restaurant and are served with unfamiliar utensils and food: they would lack the necessary cultural capital to identify themselves as a member of wealthy people. Lastly, conflict theory states the lack of opportunity from prejudice and discrimination against certain people in the society are the common cause of poverty (Abulhul, 2021). For example, those at the top will take advantage of those at the bottom, even if it means engaging in oppression.

Conflict theory can also be applied in solving the problem of poverty. The theory proposes that solving poverty can be achieved by analyzing measurements of well-being such as assets, income, essential services, social mobility, and education to promote inequality reduction. When using these indicators, questions such as “who does and should get what” will arouse, which will be crucial in allocating a fair amount of resources to an individual.

Abulhul (2021)  suggests that the social indicators create greater awareness regarding the extent of inequalities and would thus develop and explores the discussion of an unequal system more helpfully. Addae-Korankye (2019) also reiterates that these indicators would provide insights on what choices to make in inequality reduction and prevent complacent ignorance that critical decisions are being made. Lastly, both theories offer helpful information concerning the cause and alleviation of poverty.

Works Cited

Abulhul, Z. (2021). Child poverty in the United States from the perspective of conflict theory. American Journal of Educational Research and Reviews6, 82-82.

Addae-Korankye, A. L. E. X. (2019). Theories of poverty: A critical review. Journal of Poverty, Investment and Development48, 55-62.

Nassehi, A. (2019). Rethinking Functionalism: Zur Empiriefähigkeit systemtheoretischer Soziologie. Theoretische Empirie, 79-106.


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