Discussing The Concepts of Poverty and Families

Concepts of Poverty and Families

Sociology Assignment


Child poverty is a major sociological issue in Great Britain, and it affects huge numbers of individuals. The Government statistics show that almost 30% of children are deprived of basic needs, which is 9 kids in a class of 30. This issue is in the interest of sociologists because destitution of basic needs can have damage on childrens wellbeing, social skills, educational attainment, and consequently, their life chances. The numbers are growing each year and there seem not be any improvement in preventing poverty. Growing up in destitution can have live-lasting consequences on how well the children will fit into the society and if they will manage to break the poverty cycle.


The commonly held view on child poverty is that it is solely parents fault and they are fully responsible for bringing up their kids in destitution. That means, that parents put a very little effort to support their kids by not working or not working hard enough. The headline of an Independent article is a perfect example of such statement, it goes:

As we continue to blame single mothers for societys woes, theres no surprise theyre living in poverty. It suggests that single parents are being blamed for bringing poverty upon their children due to lack of effort and laziness.

Another example of this common-sense statement can be found in Telegraph article, published in 2000. The headline of the article says:

Parents to blame for child poverty. and it quotes Neville Sanders, Peterborough City Council leader. He claims that child poverty is a result of parents irresponsibility to take action. He stated that it is not politicians who need to take action but parents themselves. His statements suggest that he supports this commonly held view and spreads it among others.

Common-sense statements like this are based purely on personal judgments and opinions and they are very objective. Unlike sociological explanation, they lack facts, statistic and research. Sociologist would carry out in-depth research to find out the roots of child poverty, basing it on actual figures and statistics. According to factual, sociological research, there are different major factors leading to child poverty, e.g. single-parenting, low paid jobs and high prices of housing.


The first piece of research which supports the sociological issue of child poverty is a report published by in December 2018. Another study which investigates causes of poverty is a report published by Shelter charity in November 2006.


The latest report on poverty, published by Joseph Rowntree Foundation brought up some eye-opening findings and statistics on child poverty. Destitution in the country has been rapidly rising since 2011/12, leaving 4.1 million children deprived of basic needs. That is an increase of 500,000 in the past five years. Every second child in a single-parent home experiences poverty. It is due to low paid work and changes in UKs housing market which resulted in rising prices. The risk of poverty for those from single-parent families is 50%, so one in two families, while 25% for couple families. There is a significant difference but the numbers are still big. The possibility of in-work poverty has been dramatically rising in the past five years and it has influenced every type of working family. The costs of housing were falling for the richest three fifths of the population since 2009/2010 but rising for the families in the poorest two fifths. The rise has been mainly driven by limited access to social housing and falls in home ownership, resulting in increase of in private rented housing. It more than doubled the number of low-income families claiming Housing Benefit.

The report Against the Odds published by Shelter Charity, investigates the effects of bad housing on children. It highlights the importance of the issue by providing us with crucial findings. It has been found that childrens surroundings play a big part in their development and socialisation. Bad housing is mainly a result of poverty .Children growing in destitution are three times more likely to be upset with their family and have bad relationships with them than other children. It is more challenging for them to make new friends and they often fall victim of bullying and discrimination. Statistics show that they are almost twice as likely to be discriminated at school (13%) compared to the rest of children (7%). At the same time, over 57,000 kids from poor background are evicted from school a year. Poverty has a major impact on children educational attainment as well as their interactions with others. They are more likely to skip school and leave the education prematurely. Education is a very important agent of socialisation, which is why it is essential for children to have all their needs met at this time.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation have found that child poverty is a growing problem in our society and that the numbers are rising at an alarming pace. The report highlights that the issue has been growing greater for all types of families and that in-work poverty is a very common thing. These findings are very important for helping general public to understand the issue and to get a better insight on factors that lead families into poverty. It provides society with reliable research and statistics. The report Against the Odds points out the effects of poverty on children. Their research has found that poor children are more likely to be discriminated and find it hard to fit-in. The effects of poverty on children are major, and Shelter is very successfully portraying it through their research. Aim of these publications is to influence society, especially the government to act and change their policies in order to prevent poverty.


Doubtlessly, child poverty is a major issue in our society. The increasing numbers of families who live on the bread line are growing more concerning each year. Childrens life chances are majorly affected by the social status of their family. From low educational attainment to poor social interactions, it can leave children feeling bad about themselves and result in low adult aspirations. Poverty affects every aspect of ones life, making it a challenge to be able to break the poverty cycle in the future.

Marxism is an economic and political theory based on ideas of philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883). It is known as a conflict theory because it puts society into conflict between rich and the poor. Marx saw communism as a path to equal society, which would benefit all the people, not just the rich. It is an opposing theory to capitalism, which is the system we live in today. In Marxs terms, the economic system is based on private owners known as bourgeoise, a few people who own all the big companies and businesses, and the proletariat which is the working class.

Marxist view on poverty in the society is based on unfairness and oppression from the middle class. A lot of parents work at low paid jobs because these jobs are widely available for proletariat so the bourgeoise can make more profit for themselves. It directly affects the children who cannot support themselves. Working class is seen as cheap labour and a tool for increasing profit of the rich. Marxists believe that capitalists make sure that poor families stay poor and the rich get richer. Therefore, poverty will remain an issue as it is functional for the bourgeoise. According to Marxist ideology, it is impossible to prevent child poverty in a capitalistic society.

The presented research challenges the common-sense statement that children poverty is parents fault for not trying hard enough. The report carried out by Joseph Rowntree Foundation debunks the commonly-held view by presenting us with deep research, which found that in-work poverty is very common among families with children. Therefore, it is not laziness and lack of effort of the parents, but poorly functioning economic system and low paid jobs that cause poverty. The findings present that the rising prices in housing leave a lot of families financially struggling despite receiving support from the Government.


  • Barnard, H., 2018.Joseph Rowntree Foundation.[Online]
    Available at:https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2018
    [Accessed 03rd January 2019].
  • CPAG, 2018.Child Poverty Action Group.[Online]
    Available at:http://www.cpag.org.uk
    [Accessed 03rd December 2018].
  • Rice, B., 2006.Shelter. [Online]
    Available at:https://england.shelter.org.uks
    [Accessed 15th January 2019].
  • Unknown, 2018.Independent.[Online]
    Available at:https://www.independent.co.uk
    [Accessed 12th December 2018].

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