(noun) The state of lacking the material (particularly income) and cultural resources that a person requires to live a healthy life.
Example: A homeless person living on the streets is in a state of poverty.
Audio Pronunciation: (pov·er·ty)
Download Audio Pronunciation: poverty.mp3
- Plural: poverties
- The definition of poverty and what a person “requires” to live is highly subjective and oft debated in the social sciences.
- Poverty is broken down into absolute poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is the same regardless of country or culture and occurs when the resources required for minimum physical health are lacking, typically defined by no access to food, clothing, and shelter (e.g. a homeless person living on the streets in ill health and hungry). Relative poverty is determined by income distribution over a given population and is culturally defined relative to societal norms (e.g. driving a used car when your neighbor just bought a new car). Absolute poverty is an objective measurement and relative poverty is subjective assessment.
- It is sociologically problematic to view poverty only through the lens of income or monetary worth, this perspective does not account for self sufficiency by people living off the land or people who chose to live minimalistically.
- Word origin of “poverty” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Ellwood, David T. 1988. Poor Support: Poverty in the American Family. New York: Basic Books.
- Goldsmith, William W., and Edward J. Blakely. 1992. Separate Societies: Poverty and Inequality in U.S. Cities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- Harrington, Michael. 1962. The Other America: Poverty in the United States. New York: Macmillan.
- Haveman, Robert H. 1976. Poverty, Income Distribution, and Social Policy: The Last Decade and the Next. Madison, WI: Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin.
- Katz, Michael B. 1989. The Underserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare. New York: Pantheon Books.
- Kendall, Diana Elizabeth. 2005. Framing Class: Media Representations of Wealth and Poverty in America. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
- Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. New York: Knopf.
- Townsend, Peter. 1979. Poverty in the United Kingdom. New York: Penguin Books.
- Wilson, William J. 1987. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- United States Census Bureau – Poverty: census.gov
- World Bank – Poverty: corldbank.org
- absolute poverty
- material culture
- poverty line
- poverty trap
- relative poverty
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How to Cite the Definition of Poverty
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “poverty.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved March 22, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/poverty/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
poverty. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/poverty/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “poverty.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed March 22, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/poverty/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“poverty.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/poverty/>.